Courtney cooking with her Easy Bake Oven. Luckily these days she keeps her top on while cooking!
Some of my earliest food memories are of my mom making homemade bread, my dad making homemade potato chips, and all of us making pizza from scratch – theirs in the big oven, mine in Mom’s Easy Bake Oven. Food and cooking have been a central part of my life from very early on.
I grew up in northeast Tennessee with quite a few generations of family. My mom and dad, grandmothers, and even my great grandmother all provided significant influence on the way I cook today. My great grandmother and great grandfather grew their own vegetables, so we always had plenty of either fresh, canned, or frozen food available from their garden. My great grandmother’s vegetable soup was probably one of the only ways to get me to easily eat veggies. My grandmothers had a host of easy recipes up their sleeves, from beef brisket cooked low and slow to homemade caramel icing that makes Betty Crocker cake seem like something terribly special.
While my grandparents provided me with a solid base of home-cooked food, my mom and dad introduced me to many foreign (to us) cuisines. My dad has an affinity for Cajun and Creole food, which has built up my love of crawfish boils, gumbo, gator tail, boudin, and a whole host of other spicy foods. My mom would find a way to recreate just about anything that we had tasted at a restaurant. Back when you couldn’t find Mexican foods in our area, she figured out how to make chorizo from scratch for queso fundido, and she would also make corn tortillas from scratch, just to get the superior taste. The patience I have for spending 5 hours in the kitchen to make something wonderful is surely something “I get honest”.
While my family definitely shaped my feelings toward food and cooking, my husband has encouraged me to explore more cuisines and foods, from his family’s Indian cuisine to every new food we haven’t tried yet. With him I’ve experienced Ethiopian, Lebanese, and Polynesian foods, and so many wonderful other cuisines in their native country. And let’s not forget, he is the reason I cook as much as I do — he usually takes care of the clean up!
If you’re looking for haute cuisine and foodie snob mentality, you probably won’t get it here. I have no fear of using Velveeta, Coca-Cola, garlic powder and powdered ranch dressing as ingredients. However, if you’re looking for the quick and easy meals with few ingredients all the time, you probably won’t find that here either (though you should get it part time!). I relish in spending 5 hours making a duck soup with soba noodles and duck egg from scratch when I have the time; it’s comforting to me. I’m as much a fan of hamburger and macaroni casserole as I am of spicy cig kofte with stuffed zucchini blossoms, so the range is seemingly endless!
Please enjoy the myriad of ideas, recipes, and information I provide!