Sunday, March 10, 2013

on cooking and food inspirations

In the past few months, I've been enamored with cooking. I was never much of a cook before I got married. I baked quite a bit, but never ventured out into the area of sauteing or grilling. I can make a mean batch of French Breakfast Puffs or a fantastic sticky ring of Monkey Bread but handling chicken and quinoa? No, thanks. However, that was before I married the gorgeous, health conscious, hunky man that I did. His tastes are simple: real food, with real ingredients and real good taste. He loves  my monkey bread, but we can't really survive well on a sticky ring of biscuits, butter and sugar. So I learned. I bought cookbooks, I read blogs, I recipe tested, and I changed recipes around. I made adjustments to less than healthy recipes to make them more Tucker friendly. Through the process, which really began the week after we became husband and wife, I learned that cooking is actually a lot more fun and rewarding. To feed someone a meal that you put your inspiration, effort and time into, sort of gives you a boost. For me, it reminds me of my humanity and my body's needs. It also taught me how to cook in a way that satisfies but in a clean, nourishing way.

My food inspiration comes from several places. As I've gotten more comfortable with cooking, I've been able to make up my own recipes or adapt versions of recipes that I loved. There are two specific people though, that inspired me to try recipes I wouldn't normally pick out and who continually feed my hunger (zing!) for food inspiration. One of them, is Shauna Niequist. In the next couple of weeks, I'll be blogging about one of my food inspirations and her newest book, Bread & Wine: a love letter to life around the table with recipes which is due out April 9th. I was introduced to Shauna's writing a few years ago by a write friend of whom I had asked for book recommendations. Since the day I read the first page of her first novel, I was a fan. Hugely so. Shauna's writing is pure and honest and inspiring and I loved her appetite for food and dinner parties right off. I devoured her first book, Cold Tangerines, and likewise devoured her second novel, Bittersweet. Her books are delicious and food for my soul. I find myself re-reading them all the time, in different seasons, her words continually teaching me. In her newest book, Shauna shares simple, delicious and healthy recipes that she tested over and over, and that have been made for families and friends of her own. Her recipes have stories and memories that go along with them, and I think that is a beautiful thing. To have some nostalgia and love and connection in the food that you make is just beautiful.

Similar to Shauna's theme of nostalgia and memories being connected to food  is the cookbook Dinner A Love Story. Coincidentally (or maybe not)I heard about DALS from Shauna Niequist. The cookbook, written by Jenny Rosenstrach is my go-to cookbook. The book is written with stories written around the recipes, for different stages of a families life. The book begins with Jenny as a newlywed, and the recipes that she leaned on and learned during that period of her life. The book moves on to dinners that she cooked for friends and families and then moves on the food she cooked for her kids when they came about. More than a cookbook, it reads like a novel about two people who loved food and each other and wanted to connect those two things. It's fantastic and there isn't a recipe I've tried that I didn't like. Similarly to Shauna, Jenny uses the idea that real food is food and that portion size is a big deal. Her recipes are designed to feed a family, and to feed them well.

Starting in the next few weeks, I will be posting recipes that I have tried and love, or recipes that I have adapted from their original ones, for me and my husband. I get asked all the time about what I cook, what recipe I use, can I substitute such and such, etc. so I figured my blog would be a great place to answer those questions. I, by no means an expert on cooking or on food in general. I just like to cook, to feed myself and my husband wholesome foods, and to share!

Links to both of my food inspirations above can be found here: &

Tonight's recipe: (as pictured above)
Turkey Meatballs with Romano, Onion, & Basil
Loosely adapted from Jenny Rosenstrach's Great Grandma Turano's Meatballs from Dinner A Love Story, 2012 HarpersCollins Publishers.

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 large egg
1 medium white onion, finely diced
Almond meal (really just used this as a helper to keep the meatballs together. Don't add too much.)
Basil (I used the basil flakes)
Kosher salt or sea salt

Pour a few good glugs of olive oil to a saucepan. Turn on medium heat. I used a pot and it worked perfectly, so that the oil didn't splash everywhere. Combine all ingredients together. Roll the mixture into small balls and set in the oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes until browned and cooked through. Serve with green beans or in your favorite spaghetti recipe.

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