Cooking is an art, science, and way of life – but most importantly it’s a creative outlet. “What are you cooking?” might be the go-to question to break the ice with someone at a party. It sparks conversations about our food preferences, traditions, lifestyles.

We believe that food can induce us into moments of happiness, much like it does for me when I cook. When I cook, I feel at ease. It’s my time to explore and create in the kitchen. Relaxation in the kitchen is paramount to cooking well; you must relax in order to de-stress and be creative (both crucial elements when making something tasty). When cooking with others, everyone’s presence in the kitchen creates a type of energy that makes you want to get up and dance around your stove.

I’ve always believed that one of my strongest qualities is paying attention to detail (I believe that I inherited this trait from my father). If something is not right, I will make it right. This article focuses on how to get this innate instinct under control and at the same time, work it to your advantage.

When I think about cooking, I picture myself in the mirror (in my Aunt Cheryl’s kitchen) peeling carrots. It was a long time ago and she still makes this humongous pot of soup every year. I think the first day I went to her house, I was about 4 and she had gone through another divorce and had nothing to do but cook for her kids; I remember that huge pot of chicken soup.

I started cooking because my mother wouldn’t cook. As a child, I remember her making me scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning. And that’s it. I never saw her cook anything else. She would come home from work, greet us, then retreat to her room.

When I entered my teenage years, I started cooking to fill the void of not having a maternal figure in my life after she left to live in Japan with my father. She had no choice but to leave because the domestic violence was getting worse between them and she didn’t want us kids getting caught up in it all.

It was a happy day for me because my mother decided to leave us kids to live abroad. I stopped eating fast food and fresh juice after she left, and started eating more fruits and vegetables. I would make the whole family salad every night for dinner. This was a big deal because my father loved his pasta, rice, and bread with peanut butter sandwiches…all the time. I started exploring different flavors, I would do anything to avoid eating like him.

My older brother quickly took control of the kitchen (he was 9 at the time), and he tried to make me mad by making me watch him make pasta. He put me to work, making salad for my mother who was now gone. I felt like he was trying to be like my father (I wouldn’t eat like my father).
It’s ironic, but I think my mother probably felt the same way about it. After a while, I got sick of salad and started helping make pasta. It was a good time for me because my brother would come back from school and he would make spaghetti with tomato sauce for his plate full of red sauce. I didn’t like it as much as salad, but at least now I was getting some nutrients in my day.
I was still making my own salad every night and mooching some of his spaghetti. One day he caught me, and he slapped me in the face and I was crying and my mom came home and told him to stop and that we were not hungry even though we ate tons of pasta.
The next day I went back to making my own salad…the same thing happened. I stopped eating pasta with him and I stopped making salad and started cooking for myself. Dad didn’t like it and he would throw away my food and make me eat his pasta.

I would make the same thing every night: spaghetti with red sauce, with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top; no meatballs or sausage; no herbs, no garlic; just red sauce with parmesan cheese. He would throw it away so I would go to the store and buy the same thing he threw away. I would just eat that because I didn’t know what else to do.

When you’re in your teenage years, you’re trying to find yourself and figure out how you will live in this big world – especially in your father’s house. I thought I was trying to be like him (he’s an amazing cook) but now I realize that I was just trying to make my life easier. My father would always tell me that you need to do this or that way, or you’ll never find a husband because men don’t want girls who can’t cook.

finally I said cooking is a matter of fact, I was sick of him making fun of me. So I told him to stop making fun of me and stop throwing away my food and just let me cook.

It’s the beginning of the school year and my mom is still in Japan. My dad is getting drunk and I’m not eating dinner because he threw away my spaghetti and salad that night and I was told it was because “I don’t know how to cook for myself”.

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