Food

My Cooking Point of View

 

 

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!

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  • Kendra
    September 19, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    I love your point of view and this post! Good for you! It takes courage to admit and share the things that you did and so many people will admire that. I believe finding what you are passionate about and then living your life around that is essential. But actually taking the steps to DO IT and to commit to it is paramount.

    Your story about your childhood is extremely relatable. My parents hardly ever cooked and if they did it wasn’t an event that included the whole family. I have more memories of various fast food drive thrus than I do of licking batter off of the back of a spoon. Nutrition was never a point of discussion and I didn’t have role models in my parents when it came to that. They are amazing and have given so many other things to me but I feel that nutrition and a healthy lifestyle has been something I’ve had to learn on my own. Which, I suppose, makes it a more empowering experience and now I can share it with my family. My son is only 18 months old and just this last weekend he helped me bake a healthy coffee cake with raspberries. It warmed my heart…

    Keep it up, Stephanie! It is very clear that you are at the beginning of a very long and enjoyable journey. 🙂 Keep spreading your message, it’s a goodie! 😉

    • Stephanie
      September 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      Thanks Kendra! I hope this is the very beginning too!

  • Angela
    September 19, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Thanks for sharing your personal story!!! Would love to see your hippy college days pics!

    I can remember my after school snack being a whole can of fake ravolli topped with fake cheese and crumbled doritos!!! Thank goodness our bodies regenerate every so many years. But I can’t help to think how much better I’d look if I ate like my kids do now… when I was a child.
    -your Friday the 13th pal…Angela

    • Stephanie
      September 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Hey AngeIa! I will see if I can scrounge some up and scan them in one day! Tell me about it, I joke that my face is that of a born and raised Floridian, but I bet my skin would be way less leathery looking, if I had eaten better as a child.

  • Lynette
    September 24, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    Thank you for making me cry… in a good way. I keep telling myself that “only you can change you” and I’m having a very hard time through a very similar transition… It isn’t that my mom was neglectful, I just had a very bad relationship with my stepfather that made me very rebellious. I am so glad you posted this, gives me more hope that anyone can do it!. (even me) I grew up on junk food and it’s not a life I want for my children. I’m so glad I follow you on pinterest that way I didn’t miss out on this post.
    You keep it up, because you have given me a whole new level of confidence!

    Thank Lynette.

  • Hollind
    September 25, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    I wish Blogs had a “like” button becasue I like this! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kelly McNelis
    September 25, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Your “if I can cook, so can you” attitude is probably your greatest strength as a cook (and blogger!). I own your cookbook and it’s awesome!

    Also, I’ve never thought about how food can mean so much more than physical nourishment. How awesome that your healthy cooking can make Penelope feel important, lovable, and worthy!

    • Stephanie
      September 26, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      Thank you! Wait till you see the updated and revised edition coming out soon!! I am not sure if Penelope feels like that yet, but that is my intention. I always say it doesn’t matter if you love your kids, if they dont FEEL loved, you have have failed as a parent.

  • Ashley @ Ashley's Green Life
    September 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    What a great post! While I don’t have a cookbook like you, I sometimes feel weird posting recipes on my blog, like “Who am I to post a recipe? I didn’t go to culinary school…I’m probably chopping/cooking this all wrong!” But like you, I feel a strong desire to put healthy opitions out there for people to learn about and try. So although our cooking backgrounds may be unconventional, our drive is there to educate people about healthy nourishing food! Can’t wait to see more of your recipes. ( :
    Ashley

  • Rebecca
    October 1, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Stephanie, thanks SO much for your honesty. That is value right there. There is a generation or two of us who grew up eating Doritos and packaged garbage, who really need to hear your perspective and learn about your journey. We are all just winging it. 😉 I was not given an opportunity to bond with my mom in the kitchen either, and I’m sometimes jealous of folks who did. It took me 39 years to get confident in the kitchen and to be okay with our food choices, even in the face of really awful opposition from family and friends. We’ve avoided synthetic dyes, flavors, and preservatives for a year now, and my family is coming around to understanding now. I started the Feingold Association elimination diet this month for our daughter, and it’s made a huge difference for her (attention, school work), for me, and for my cooking skills. I am enjoying the challenge of making real food, really easy. That’s precisely why your e-book is needed! Oh how I can relate to your dinner party mishaps, burned dinners, and kitchen fires! And the stress and feeling of failure that just makes your desire to be perfect even worse. I’ve decided that perfectionism leaves me absolutely no room to improve and grow. The main thing is support. You are providing a soft place to land for others here, and you need that kind of support for yourself too. So congratulations! PS – My girl loved your yoga classes way back in the day. I’m so happy for you that you’ve taken all of that experience and blended it together with your own motherhood to create this site.