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  • Writer's pictureGuest Blogger

The Magic of Observation

by Anne from California

I cook the majority of my family's meals. This is for many reasons, including nutrition and cost.

But as I find myself stirring a pot of sauce, boiling rice, or dicing veggies, I don't often know how I got to this point. I never took formal cooking classes. I've received a cookbook or two as a gift, but nothing I've used regularly.

If I had to think back, the only thing I can really put my finger on is that my mom cooked most of our family meals. She was Italian, had 3 kids, and was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood.

Every night she made a meal, almost always consisting of meat, a starch, and at least one veggie. I would sometimes bake with her or help her stir some gravy or tomato sauce, but she never officially taught me how to cook. I mainly learned through observation. Many times, my sisters and I were doing homework at the kitchen table, and she would be at the sink, cleaning vegetables, marinating chicken, cutting potatoes, or measuring ingredients. I didn't even know about boxed mashed potatoes until I was in college! I remember my friends being so astounded that I knew how to make mashed potatoes from actual potatoes. And I was shocked, myself. I had never been taught, but nonetheless, I had learned. I had seen her countless times wash and peel the potatoes, boil them, and then mash them with some milk, butter, and seasoning.

From simple recipes such as pasta and mashed potatoes, I gradually moved on to more complex dishes. My resources have been cookbooks, recipes in magazines, Google, and of course phone calls to my mom. Despite all these great teachers, my best method of learning has been trial and error. If you eat something you like, try to recreate it! If you see an interesting recipe, give it a go! The best advice I can give is that the first time you make a new meal, follow the recipe to a T. This way you have a baseline to work from. Then when you try the meal, you can make mental notes about how you might adjust it next time. Maybe you would add something, remove an ingredient, or alter the flavor. This is what I like to call "remixing" the recipe. The first time, I make a meal by the book, but after that I remix it to my family's taste.

I have a nine-year-old son who sees me cooking meals almost every single day. I sometimes invite him to help me in the kitchen. And I hope this empowers him to learn to cook for himself one day. I believe the single most important thing you can do for your nutrition is to be in the driver's seat by cooking your own food!


This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Anne.

About Anne. . .

My name is Anne. I am originally from Pennsylvania but currently reside in Costa Mesa, CA. I have a nine year old son and am also expecting another son at the end of 2022. I love reading, gardening, and getting outside to enjoy the California weather. But my number one hobby is cooking! I am a vegan so I spend a lot of time planning meals and coming up with vegan alternatives to our favorite dishes!


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