I have been watching the most current season of The Next Food Network Star on Hulu, and with my recent live TV cooking segments (you can catch me Wednesdays at noon twice a month on WCTV, or on my YouTube channel), the lessons the con
ants are learning on the show are also applicable to me. Especially how to be engaging and not come off scripted or stiff in front of the camera. Each time I am in front of the camera, it gets easier and easier, but it still is really tough! It also got me thinking about my cooking point of view since each con
ant has to spend a good amount of time honing in on what their point of view is, and what makes them different and stand out from the others.
Confession: I am still somewhat embarrassed that I have an eCookbook out. Why? I am not a chef. I did not go to culinary school. I did not grow up cooking with my mother. I never knew when she was going to go to the grocery store. There was no joyful bonding time spent together in the kitchen like I do with Penelope. I can’t tell you how many times I ate a bag of doritos for dinner. Furthermore, I am not even well-known as an amazing home cook. I have been known in the health and wellness field for over a decade, but, in fact, most people who have known me for a long time think of me as a terrible cook. And many of my friends actually laughed in my face when I told them about the eCookbook!
Up until I got pregnant with my daughter, I was the girl who could not cook. I was the girl who started fires in the kitchen and ruined entire meals. I was the girl who threw a dinner party and made a meal but it was only barely edible. I would run around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off. It was beyond overwhelming and stressful.
I realize now that I stayed out of the kitchen because it was painful. Every time I went into my kitchen, it brought up horrible memories of my childhood. Because of that anxiety and the feelings that would surface from my childhood when I would try to cook, I stayed out of the kitchen. I was too afraid to face my fears and kept them stuffed down for a long time. I think part of the reason I started cooking with a slow cooker is because I could only emotionally handle chopping up ingredients, dumping them into a slow cooker, turning it on and then running the hell out of the kitchen.
Being in the kitchen before Penelope came along brought up sad memories for me. The pain of having a mother who was neglectful and not emotionally available stung the most when I was in the kitchen. I could keep pushing that pain down as long as I stayed out of the kitchen. To reinforce that behavior, I also ate poorly. It was as if I felt like since my own mother did not care about me enough to get her shit together and make a solid, nutritious meal for me on a daily basis, then I must be of no value. I must not be important enough or lovable enough. So getting to a place where I felt I was lovable and worthy enough for the time and effort to make a healthy meal took a long time.
I started being interested in what healthy meant when I left my house at 17. At first, my interest lied in figuring out how to lose weight. Gradually, I became interested in feeling good and learning the correlation between food and health. It’s been such a process for me; I started out as a vegetarian, went to being a vegan, tried carb-free, dairy-free and on and on. I feel like I have tried every health fad out there. When I found out about the Weston A. Price Foundation and Real Food, it was like coming home. I come from a long line of famers. My great grandparents on my father’s side were German immigrants who setttled in Kansas and started a dairy farm. On my mother’s side, my step-grandfather was one of the biggest tomato farmers in South Florida and they also had a large avocado grove. My own father ran a small nursery and avocado grove and we had a vegetable garden and chickens. Farming is in my blood and from an early age I wanted to garden. I remember at age ten starting my own garden with sunflowers and radishes. I was blown away that one little seed could grow a radish!
When I was older I realized I could buy food from farmers that treated their animals well instead of simply opting out. Instead of having to boycott industrial foods and cut out meat, I could eat meat from local farms that pastured-raised their animals. I finally figured out what healthy really means. And eating this way also hits home with my passion for healing the earth. I have a degree in Environmental Science and have always cared about sustainable, chemical-free living. I wish you could have seen in me in college; a total hippy, didn’t even my shave my legs.
So, on my worst days I have been thinking, “Who the hell am I to have a cookbook? Nobody cares what I have to say.” On my best days, I think, “Wait a minute. My life experiences are valuable!” I finally feel confident in the kitchen. Yes, I learn something new every day, but I also have things to share! Here is where I found my cooking point of view. I am telling a story from a beginner’s point of view, and hopefully that will make me more marketable and relatable. If I can cook, so can you. If I can get over what was holding me back and claim my birth right to nourishing food, you can too.
If you made it to the bottom of this whole post, thank you! For you skimmers out there, here it is summed up for you:
- I am all about using food to nourish and love myself, my family, and my friends mainly because I didn’t get that as a child.
- I also care about buying real food from local farmers or growing my own. Part of this is because it’s the healthiest and most nutritious way to eat, but also because it is the best for the health of the Earth.
- I am about being efficient and organized and like utilizing my freezer and slow cooker in the kitchen to save time so that I have more time to live the kind of life I want to live and have time for all my interests. I may not be the most experienced cook, but I am the most organized and efficient!