The idea for Fearless Home Cooking is simple: to combine cooking and writing. But the idea didn’t come quickly. Although I’ve been cooking since my late teens and writing seriously since college, I always thought of them as disparate parts of my life.
As a newly married 20-something, my cooking was essentially what my mom served at our family dinner table, and was fairly successful. It took me what seemed like years to make my meatballs taste like hers. On clearly one of the best days in my kitchen, and to my great relief, mom gave my meatballs the thumbs-up. My foray into creating meals led me to “The Joy of Cooking” and then meandered into beginner’s Chinese fare, courtesy of Martin Yan. After several go-rounds, I turned out a decent hot-and-sour soup and pepper steak.
My repertoire expanded to chicken parmigiana and mom’s steak pizzaiola, and I tried in vain to get my matzoh ball soup as flavorful as hers. I finally gave up and settled for my version, and now that I make my own chicken stock, the soup is more chicken-y. After our kids were born, I focused on kid-friendly food, which typically ended up fast and easy and not altogether healthy. And when we were just plain tired of chicken fingers and pizza (and desperately wanted to get the kids to eat more vegetables), my husband minced green peppers and carrots and hid them in meatloaf. We weren’t proud, but it got the job done.
When the kids got to middle school, I was working full-time as an editor and was lucky enough to have some amazing meals on business trips to New York, Chicago, Boston, and other great food towns. And it’s still funny that I never thought about food writing and cooking – until a few years ago, and that was the beginning of a big change for me.
It’s been about 22 months since I’ve settled into my Act 2, balancing life as a freelance editor/writer and self-proclaimed student of all things food. I’ve been digging into some cookbooks that I’ve paid no mind to in years, and have been working as a kitchen assistant in a well-known cooking store for a year and a half. I dared myself to enroll in a five-month cooking techniques course at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland. (By the way, the best five months of Friday nights ever.) And in the pockets of time in between, I’ve read Ruth Reichl’s memoirs, devoured Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life,” and lived vicariously through Michael Ruhlman’s “The Making of a Chef.” And my very thoughtful husband (a woodworker hobbyist whose spectacular cabinets and bookcases bring warmth and a built-in charm to our house) offered to create a dedicated space for my “food and cooking” library.
So, after much hemming and hawing, and making excuses, I decided to start this blog and turn my little obsession with food and cooking into the impetus for me to keep on cooking and learning how to be a fearless home cook.