My cooking and eating habits have been mostly influenced by my mom (although her influence has hardly been limited to those two). I can’t be objective of course, but I consider her to be the best cook I know: super fast in the kitchen, with a very solid knowledge of cooking essentials, yet constantly improvising, I don’t think she’s even made a dish I didn’t like (even though she’s often quite heavy- handed on the black pepper and garlic). What I mostly love about her cooking is how unpretentious it is; even though she has a deep love of almost all ingredients, spices and herbs and enjoys cooking (and eating) more than most people I know, she’s very cool about it. She puts effort in preparing meals and sourcing out fresh, seasonal produce, is hungry for new combinations (and hungry in general), but sees cooking as a habit and a necessity, rather than something to marvel upon or talk extensively about.
Apart from lots of recipes (rarely with actual measurements, as she’s always pushed us to follow our instincts and taste buds in the kitchen), here’s another 5 things I’ve learned from her:
– Follow a balanced diet- don’t diet: rotate between lots of vegetables and fish, a little red meat, pulses cooked with seasonal greens and pies (an excellent source of dairy, vegetables and carbs, all at the same time). Winter calls for soups, summer for fresh salads and some (or most) days for dessert: a couple pieces of dark chocolate always do the trick.
– Never skip breakfast: yogurt, fresh fruit, grains, seeds and nuts give your a great start to your day along with lots of energy, while also keeping your from sloppy-eating during lunch
– Love your leftovers (my mom is the absolute master of leftover transformation): when there’s food left, incorporate it into a new dish (soups, omelettes, pasta sauces) or store it in the freezer.
– Walk into the kitchen with a plan; it doesn’t have to be a multi-step master plan- you’re not taking over the world, you’re cooking. Start from what you want to eat and figure out the rest (ingredient combinations, type of dish, technique) as you go, based on the season and what you already have.
– Embrace cooking for others- food tastes better when shared: with very little prep, you can easily whip up a lunch or dinner for friends. Keep a jar of olives, a couple kinds of cheese and crudités in the fridge, some pesto in the freezer, nuts in the cupboard and a couple bottles of good wine and you’ll always be ready to entertain.
I would love to know: what have you learned from your mom?
(Pictured: my mom and myself- not yet cooking, but already food lovers)