As we celebrate the New Year, I find myself reflecting on my journey through cooking. I started cooking not long after I met James, as we grew sick of eating out constantly. At the time, I served one of the few things I knew how to make: tacos. No, not my fancy tacos with homemade spice mixture, but straight-out-of-the packet tacos with pre-shredded cheese, lettuce, and instant rice. Since I had to buy most all of the ingredients the day before, it wasn’t any less expensive than dining out and certainly wasn’t more sophisticated. It was, however, heartfelt (I even bought little umbrellas for the lemonade).
Above: A feast of “homemade” Mexican food.
Slowly, I moved on to more complicated dishes and even baking. After a few months, I started documenting my accomplishments on a “blog” of sorts. I couldn’t even post pictures on the site or use any kind of text formatting, but I kept cooking and posting about it (even my failed attempt at a Rachel Ray recipe). As time went on, I started having dinner guests and cooking for others in their homes. The experiences were both exhilarating and terrifying at times.
Soon, I moved in to more complex territory: the special projects. It started with Gingerama, inspired by the memoir Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I moved through more special projects, seasonal cooking, and other food related topics. James helped me create the website Jenn’s Cook Book and continued to be my gastrointestinal guinea pig. I tried new recipes, new produce, and explored different cuisines from across the globe. A new lifestyle was born.
Now, new recipes are pretty common in my kitchen. James has grown accustom to what I refer to as “the cruel whimsy of Jenn,” which usually consists of me adjusting recipes to my own taste, budget, or pantry. I enjoy crafting new special projects, including Veganomics and my latest venture Soupified (for which I demanded a logo of our friend Ray, which is pretty snazzy). But throughout the course of discovering food, I have also discovered a part of myself and a cause worth campaigning for in my life.
As you will probably notice, I often dedicate posts to their frugality or to their minimizing effect on the environment. During projects like Veganomics and Econofest, I highlighted tips and tricks to save money while saving the planet. The environment has always been the closest I’ve had to a cause, and now with the world facing an economic crisis du jour, it seemed appropriate to combine the two and sound off my opinions on the declining state of civilization (a bit too dramatic? much apologies).
I hope to offer recipes that are at least somewhat healthy, for the body, the soul, and the greater world around us, as well as the pocket book. Something in my heritage makes me want to be a penny-scrimper, though I don’t always follow that path. I would like to think that most anyone could prepare the recipes on Jenn’s Cook Book, save for a few alterations.
My best piece of advice is to always adjust a recipe for what you have on hand. Do not, under any circumstances, go out to the store to purchase one item for a recipe (unless we are talking about baking, which is much more of an exact science, which requires the amount of butter called for least you find yourself with an end result you might want to consume). I advocate, support, endorse, and fully suggest that you take recipes and twist and turn them into your own creation. That, my friends, is how food comes from the heart.
Anyway, to make a long story less long, please browse my creations and enjoy my journey through the kitchen. I hope that the New Year brings you all that you are looking for, but I have found that if something delicious is cooking in your oven, you always have something wonderful to look forward to. After all, the best part of cooking is sharing that food with the ones that you love. If nothing else, please take that from this website….a little bit of warm and fuzzy in an otherwise vapid world of Internet ramblings. I will try to keep my ramblings to a minimum, as long as you promise to have a happy 2009 full of love, life, and this crazy thing I like to call cooking from the heart!
Cheers and Happy New Year!
PS – Look for more of the same in 2009: Special Projects, Bitter/Sweet rants and raves, and everything else you have come and known to love from Jenn’s Cook Book. Have a(nother) glass of wine for me!