Thursday, February 3, 2011

how it all started...

At the grown and ma-TOO-ER age of nineteen, yes--1-9, yes--that is a teenager, Robby swept me off my feet and we were married.

For reals. 

So here I am, a wife, just coming out of my freshman year of college where the only cooking I did was pressing start on the microwave, to melt the pre-shredded cheese for my nachos.

And as excited as I was to be all "wifey", I quickly realized I had no idea how to cook for someone else.....let alone a hungry MAN. haha, ok, boy.


Phone call after phone call to my mom every night asking how to do this, and what to add to that. I was clueless. For about a year I struggled. I tried, but I struggled. Cooking was hard, and I didn't have the strongest desire to do it. We ended up eating a lot of Hamburger Helper and Sugarsmacks.

And then something clicked.

We'd been married about a year, and I would head to the gym after work (I learned my lesson about exercise after my freshman 12), and then I'd come home and watch the Food Network until about 11:30 or midnight when Robby would get home from work. Every single night.

I sat there and stared at the tv, in a puddle of my own drool-- amazed at what could be created if you just put a little work into it. I fell in love with Emeril, and I started to find myself in the kitchen more often.

I got comfortable with a few recipes, which was perfect--we were both in school, both working, so I only needed a few in "the rotation". With each meal I cooked, I became more confident that I could move on and try something new. I continued to binge on The Food Network late at night, I'd sit there and soak it all in.

(early 2004, I think?)

Robby then got me new pans for Christmas--which only made me want to cook more.

It was a snowball, rolling down the mountain, collecting new kitchen gadgets (a garlic press!), new recipes (manicotti!),  and any food related tidbit it could pick up (stuffing a whole chicken really isn't that bad!)

And that is how my love for cooking watching the Food Network late at night.
I can honestly say I LOVE to cook. Of course there are nights where I'm in a hurry, or I really just don't feel like cooking--everyone has those moments--but for the most part the kitchen is my favorite place to be. I spend most of my day there, and nothing makes me happier then sitting down, seeing my family enjoy a meal I spent time preparing.

Taking nothing, and creating something, feels really good.

Whether you despise even the thought of cooking (but want to do better), or whether you are a professional chef catering to the stars....I think everyone needs inspiration and fresh ideas every now and then.

My challenge for you this week: 
find something that inspires you to cook more.
-watch a cooking show (or stay up late at night watching lots:)
-check out a new cookbook at the library (this is my favorite past time)
-browse around some of the amazing (and beautiful!) food blogs out there on the www
-buy yourself a new kitchen gadget, try a new recipe, or be brave and try a new winter vegetable--mix up your routine. Even something as simple as switching from garlic powder whole garlic cloves can make you realize how fun cooking can be.

good luck!!

i'd love to hear where you go for inspiration...


Lillian said...

Loving this series - especially the old pictures:)
I feel like I'm on the slowest journey ever right now to get back to taking good care of myself and to re-learn eating habits after years and years of food and weight obsession. The biggest inspiration for me is knowledge - learning about food and what to try and enjoy and prepare for myself and for my family that often challenges my societal ingrained ideas of "healthy." Learning about where my food comes from, searching out local sources(thankfully we live in an area with amazing food resources, so that makes it a bit easier) and reading reading reading to learn more and more. I try to stick mostly with the blogss and library, but a few books jump out as things I want to have in my collection - Nourishing Traditions, anything Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and so many more. I just ordered Real Food: What to Eat and Why on Amazon and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Hannah Mayo said...

My cooking inspiration these days is definitely blogs- ones with great photos. Smitten Kitchen, Cannelle et Vanille, Honey and Jam, Baked Bree... the Little Red House :)
aside: I got married at 19 too.

Rebecca Jane said...

This story really reminded me of how I fell in love with cooking! Although I'm not married or in college yet, I watched Food Network day and night for years. With almost every show, I learned something new. Even though I don't have much time to cook now (terrible, I know), consecutively watching Food Network increases my love for eating in general. Just out of curiosity, what shows do you like?

A Place to Reside said...

My experience has been really similar to yours. I, too, took a lot of encouragement from Food Network when I first started cooking. Watching someone else do it made it seem more manageable (not an just a long list of action steps). Now, I also find inspiration in several different blogs. Everyday, I mark several things in my RSS reader, but I usually find myself making the few that stick with me all day or all week.

I think I'm finally going to make the ginger pumpkin scones I've been thinking about since Thanksgiving. :-)

gina said...

I could seriously copy and paste this to my blog. It's exactly what happened to me. (minus my husband looking 12) ;) I find my inspiration in cooking magazines, blogs, websites, food network, etc. It's an addiction. I could read a cookbook for hours.

My latest search: LOW CARB

whitneyingram said...

Food Network reeled me in too. It was when I was pregnant with Jack and after he was born when I was home with a sleeping infant all day and had nothing to do. And cooking also became more interesting to me when I had to cook for a little boy who I wanted to eventually choose wise food choices someday.

And I have also convinced myself that a child who has tried a lot of different foods is more intelligent.

So if I need a new kitchen tool to be inspired... I am REALLY inspired by a new orange KitchenAid. Remind me to tell you my clever money plan for getting a new KitchenAid.

the hawker's said...

pioneer woman.
my black kitchenaid.
my fancy schmancy tablecloth i made {thanks to my sewing class}.
cute aprons.
and my new, fabulous black dishwashing gloves with ruffles and flowers and bling.

the first two because they are both super awesome. great ideas that never fail + a machine that cuts my prep time in half {or so.}

the last three so i can feel cute while cooking, and inspired to clean up the big messes i make, sans dishwasher. it may sound silly but it totally does it for me.

Tasha said...

YOU inspire me to cook more. And all the goodies from my pampered chef bridal shower. I too am a young 20-year-old just getting married, and I'm rather nervous about the prospect of feeding a hungry hungry husband. I've bookmarked your recipes and will start from there.

Thanks for your blog and for helping calm my fears :)

Unknown said...

Hi! I am new to your blog and I just wanted to say The Food Network is amazing! I feel like I learn something new every time I watch- even my husband likes to watch now because he knows it means something yummy is coming his way!

Ang said...

wow - sounds like a lot of us have the same story! who knew the food network affected so many lives (& was instrumental at the beginning of so many marriages)? hah!

although my story differs in that i was married off in my old age - 23! :) I visit many of the same blogs that have already been mentioned - most of which I found at it's great for those of us who are visual (me!)

Rachael said...

Love hearing about your cooking, and tips!! And pictures!
I haven't even tried to cook anything yet, even though I love reading your recipes and watching cooking shows. Especially from scratch! Wow. But I'm sure it's not that hard. I just have to try....and buy the actual ingredients.....

connie said...

I love watching The Food Network as well! I always had some interest in food in general, helping with grandma to make a million Chinese dumplings on many occasions as a child. I loved looking at my dad's Food & Wine magazines. The year I moved in with my fiance, he bought me a Circulon pan set and that's where it really began (That was 6 years ago. Yes, the pricier pans are really worth every penny.) Also, the food blogs have been instrumental in prompting me on trying new things. I tried your chocolate cake recipe, the one you posted with the browned butter frosting, it's really a keeper. Thanks, Sheena!

summer said...

i love thursdays:)
i love your stories!
i love being married super young!
i was just 2 weeks into being 20:)
and i LOVE cooking!!

my "and then something clicked" point was when i worked at a summer camp, in the KITCHEN, while i was dating grant. it was the most fun i've ever had, and the best thing i could've ever done. for me, and for my future husband! boy, did i learn that summer. how to chop an onion, how to mince REAL garlic (didn't know that existed before), how to make homemade bread, how to adapt recipes, making sauces from scratch, using fresh ingredients.. all good things came into my world when i signed up for that job. and the rest is history. i found my love for cooking at summer camp.

melissa said...

ooh, garlic was a big turning point for me too. as was realizing that brownies from scratch are way easy.

Elise said...

I love this!

I just got married 3 months ago! and I have been loving having my own kitchen! I started watching food network while I was homeschooling through high school and started cooking for my family - since we never had home-cooked meals. We are at restaurants for every meal! I loved creating and baking :)
I am definitely still learning though - major recipe fail yesterday.
Love the stories!

Emily said...

I like to cook. I like to eat. We are trying to be healthier and teach good habits to our kids, and it's hard. I like your blog, Sheena, because the food is yummy and healthy. I'm always amazed that your husband and children eat your lovely concoctions. How in the world does a child naturally eat tomatoes or squash or zucchini?

sheena said...

Paul: I WISH I had time still to watch the Food Network....I don't get around to it very often, but my husband and I love to watch Iron Chef America together when we can. I love seeing all the crazy things they try, and I have learned so many things just WATCHING them cook. I also like Giada--everything she does is so simple, and I love Alton Brown.

Emily: My kids have always eaten almost every single vegetable....because I've never given them the chance not to like them. I got tired of buying baby food, so after everything was "introduced", I would just mash up what we were eating and give it to them. They have been eating everything we have since they were small, so they never had time to think it was gross:) The other night my 5yr old was disappointed when we were out of kale!

Plant a few vegetable plants in pots--you don't even have to do a full garden. Let your kids SEE them growing, and help with the process, and they will be excited to eat them. Take them to the Farmer's Market and let them pick out any fruit or vegetable they want--this will get them excited about trying new things.

gram said...

... I remember watching the little boy chomping on green peppers when he was about 2 years...

Rach H @ FamilyEverAfter said...

I was just thinking of this beautiful blog tonight- I tried your chicken tacos you posted recently. They were so simple and I felt to healthy. You're right, we all need new ideas sometimes. If you have any more easy healthy recipes like that, I'm all ears.

I first got my inspiration from my cooking teacher at BYU. I majored in Home Ec, and my obsession took off from there. I was a TA for the Basic Food Prep class, and was always amazed at how little I knew.

If you haven't seen this foodie blog yet, you'll have to check her out. A resident physician/foodie. I have no idea how she has the time. I'm sure you'll appreciate her photos and recipes.

aki! said...

It's true! Reading blogs is really inspiring. I always want to try out recipes and tell people how I did.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I'll tell you what makes me want to cook. This post makes me want to cook.

Bethany said...

dang sheena, i was really crossing my fingers for a wedding picture! ;)

Anonymous said...

I feel most at peace when my hands are busy in the kitchen, too. Love reading your blog - so positive and lovely!

Amber T said...

A new kitchen gadget (or a dozen!) always makes kitchen time a whole new adventure! You are so precious in your posts and I'm already ridiculously obsessed with checking out your recipes and stories!