Please note that this site is a work in progress.
Thank you for visiting my page. I started this site after several friends suggested that I turn my “Recipes” photo album on Facebook into a blog. I thought that made a lot of sense considering that I have enjoyed using recipes from other websites for years, so why not start my own?
How I Became Interested in Cooking and Baking
Many of my most treasured childhood memories center around food in one way or another. Whether it was sitting around the kitchen table during “Kid Friendly Dinners” or learning how to make apple pie with my grandmother, food has always been an important theme in my life.
I love cooking/baking and am fortunate to come from a family with many excellent cooks to learn from; however, as a kid, I never had much interest in cooking. I used to sit on the kitchen floor and talk to my mother while she fixed dinner, but it never occurred to me to ask her how she made anything. Cooking seemed so difficult and complicated. Something I didn’t have time to deal with. Then, when I was 20, my mother died from cancer and I had the sudden urge to reclaim my childhood recipes. I realized that if I did not learn how to cook, I would never be able to pass these recipes down to my own children someday. It was too late to get them from my mother, but fortunately, many of these recipes were from my grandmother, so I was able to salvage them from my maternal relatives. I also borrowed some recipes from my father’s sister, my Aunt Gail who self-published her own cookbook. Over time, I have developed some of my own recipes which are also included on this site.
How I Developed Confidence As a Cook
Once I started cooking, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is really quite simple. As my grandmother used to say, “If you can read, you can cook.” She was right: If you can follow written directions, you can make anything with practice. It is not that hard. My grandmother was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known, but when she got married, she didn’t even know how to boil water because her family had a maid who prepared all their meals for them. I figured if my grandmother learned how to cook without any help at all, I could certainly learn with some guidance.
I started out learning basic recipes and then moved on to more sophisticated ones. Of course I made lots of mistakes early on and I wish I had some of them on video (like in the movie Julie and Julia) so I could laugh at myself and show how far I have come! I still mess up every now and then, but not as often as I used to. I’ve finally reached the point where I feel comfortable making modifications to recipes without worrying about completely ruining them. To me, cooking is an art and I am happy to say that I now have a style I can call my own. My mother was an improvisational cook and my grandmother and aunts are more “by the book.” I am a blend of the two. I love using other people’s recipes, but also enjoy creating new ones.
Why Do I Cook/Bake?
- Cooking is great for getting your mind off of things. For example, during my mother’s final days, her older sister, my Aunt Jaymie stayed with us for a few weeks to help out. While Mom rested, Aunt Jaymie taught me how to make Peach and Raspberry Crisp. During that time, she taught me all of the basics I know about cooking. That experience showed me that food can be a meditative strategy to deal with situations where you feel helpless and don’t know what else to do. You get the satisfaction of having a finished product that can be enjoyed by others. After all, everyone needs to eat and wants to feel cared for.
- Stress Relief
- As a graduate student, cooking has become one of my favorite stress relievers. If I need a study break, I pop some cornbread in the oven or bake a pie for a friend. Students need energy like everyone else and what better way to address that need than to make something that will give my brain fuel?
- Economic Efficiency
- You can tell I have written too many papers lately when I use terms like “economic efficiency” to describe a personal hobby. 🙂 Yet, it is true- cooking can be very economical when you are on a budget and cannot afford to eat out. I love going to restaurants, being waited on, and tasting other people’s dishes for a change, but right now I need to be more resourceful about how I spend my money. Unlike in college, I can’t eat all my meals at a dining hall, I don’t have a lot of disposable cash, and if I don’t cook for myself no one else will. So, cooking is not only a hobby for me; it is an economic necessity. Pre-packaged frozen meals are expensive too and they are not nearly as healthy as a fresh salad I can throw together myself.
- A Creative Outlet
- I’m a very creative person and cooking allows me to express that side of my personality when I get tired of staring at my monitor and burying myself in books. Something as simple as decorating a cake can be done in so many different ways!
- A Way to Help and Show That You Care!
- Cooking is a wonderful way to cheer someone up and show you care about them. When my father was ill this past winter I took over the planning and execution of our family holiday dinners. In my family, the holidays are a big deal and you can’t have a legitimate Thanksgiving or Christmas without plenty of homemade food. By doing most of the cooking for Thanksgiving and all of the cooking for Christmas, I helped my father enjoy the holidays (to some extent) despite his condition.
Most of the recipes on this site fall in the category of “American cuisine” with a special emphasis on Southern food since that is my heritage. I also love making Italian and Mediterranean food. I don’t like anything spicy and have a lot of food allergies, so you won’t find many ethnic recipes here.
The recipes on this site come from the following sources:
- The Ince Family Cookbook, by Jean Gregory Ince, my maternal grandmother (written for her five children)
- No Matter What, Just Keep On Cooking!, by Gail Story Zitzman, my aunt (written for her three children)
- Recipes I have enjoyed from other sites such as: www.allrecipes.com and www.tammysrecipes.com
- Various cookbooks I keep on my shelves
- Other relatives and friends