I recently read an article by the Harvard Business Review that stated only 10% of Americans today actually enjoy cooking. A staggering 45% said that they hate cooking, and the remainder was indifferent. Shocked by this data, I decided to conduct a smaller survey of my own through social media with friends and group discussions. What I kept seeing was a lack of time being the source of people’s frustrations. Everyone has a crazy work and family schedule. Eating out reigns supreme most of the week and people everywhere are just trying to survive.
As a working mother of three, I can identify with this. As much as I love the prospect of creating an exotic handmade truffle pasta, fresh-baked French bread, and a salad with a homemade vinaigrette, life almost always gets in the way… and that’s okay. I can’t expect that caliber of meal on a daily basis.
Whether it’s through cooking shows or social media, we are bombarded with picture-perfect and seemingly unattainable dishes. Am I going to attempt to make a handmade lobster truffle ravioli for dinner? Lord knows I’d love to, but the reality is that I probably won’t get to any time soon. I’ve got a casserole in my oven right now, and that feels like an accomplishment for today. I try my best to prep things for the week and menu plan, but let’s face it, I’m human. My plans can fall through and I can be standing in front of my fridge wondering what the hell I’m going to do with a pound of ground beef and some frozen green beans.
This is where it can get fun. I grew up in a low-income family, so from my formative years, I learned how to get creative and “pinch pennies.” Popsicles and string cheese were a huge treat, but we always had food on the table. As an adult, I can still draw upon that experience and find enough ingredients in my kitchen to create a dinner my family will love without running to the store.
If there are two things I love to save, it’s money and time.
Reading some of the replies to my social media survey, I realized that a lot of people are struggling in the same “I don’t have time” boat as I am, but they might also be lacking the necessary tools. I have the advantage of working in the restaurant industry for years. Most people don’t have that and cooking just seems to be some insurmountable chore.
When I initially starting writing my cookbook, I had visions of creating recipes for pumpkin chai muffins, or blackberry and lavender cake with a vanilla bean buttercream. Truffle-infused fettuccini. Braised Chianti short ribs… with fava beans… just kidding, but props if you got my reference. Those all sound amazing, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t practical for my audience.
You’re probably drooling by now, but also thinking “There’s no way in hell that I can make that.” Just for the record, I think you could. I believe in you. However, we both know that the cookbook you’re going to use the most will be practical recipes with minimal effort and easily accessible ingredients. (Who the hell sells fava beans anyways?) My goal is to help you fall in love with cooking like I have, while also not breaking the bank or getting frustrated. Cooking should be enjoyed just as much as eating.
So it begins… my search for simple solutions. I hope you embark on this journey with me to find the beauty in simplicity.