Cook those books

I was 20 when I started to discover the magic of cooking.

It was the middle of my junior year in college and I had just signed the lease on a small casita in Santa Fe, which I was planning to live in with my partner at the time. A month after we signed the lease, our relationship fell apart, and there I was heart broken with a house that I couldn’t afford, a space that I didn’t want to fill by myself, and more emotions than I knew what to do with. Nights suddenly seemed longer than they ever had before and I had more alone time on my hands than was healthy for a barely 20 year old. School was challenging that year, and while it helped keep me focused on the bigger picture it also contributed to the sense that I was scrambling. In the winter of 2010 my life felt like a mess of things that I couldn’t control.

Cooking came as a way to fix that mess. It was a way to escape all the things in my life that I didn’t understand. It was a way to create something in an organized logical manner, and I knew that if I read a recipe and followed along that something good would come out. And so I began to cook for myself every evening. At first I had a weekly routine of recipes. Mondays a buttery mushroom spinach couscous dish, Tuesdays pasta, Wednesdays a salad, Thursdays something with the left overs, and the weekends I would try a new recipe. I liked this system— I liked how I got better at those recipes as the time went by, I liked that I could depend on myself when I cooked. While I couldn’t figure out the complex emotions I was having I could measure, read, time, chop, and whip. The floor had dropped out from beneath me a few months earlier and I needed something to stand on. Cooking became that floor, and something more started to happen, something magical. This hobby became an outlet of logic and creativity and agency and experimenting all at once. I was smitten.

As the months wore on, other parts of my life came together, but cooking and the power of cooking had made an irrevocable mark on my daily habits and life. This mark continued to grow, and the following year I committed myself more and more to cooking tasty food with mostly local ingredients. I began cooking with friends, met someone who shared my love of food, and began to collect cookbooks. After I finished my BA in Santa Fe, I moved to California, and again cooking became an art that in many ways I could rely on. In California, my life also shifted dramatically and those shifts led to my friendship with Whitney. In the winter of 2014 we found ourselves as two fast-friends with a passion for cooking. We spent many nights chatting through all of the confusing parts of life while cooking and drinking glasses of wine together. Again cooking and food became a stabilizer in my life. Yes, I experiment with the flavors that I put together, but just like an artist can guess how colors come together, I began to understand how flavors can work in surprising and wonderful ways.

Summer salad in California

My life and my cooking style have changed a lot since that point, but what has been unwavering is my love of food and making food. My love lies in simple ingredients combined in ways to make something extraordinary. Lately, I think a lot of about the foods that will make my body feel the best, and how food can be used to create to stable communities and lives globally. Now I live in Brooklyn, and am working on my master’s degree. And boy, do I miss the vegetables in California. But here, there are so many flavors which are harder to find on the West coast, and so I am making the best, which is pretty great, of what I have. I have more time to cook on certain days and I am also seeking a sense of agency and stability in my life. I also have a pile of cook books that I have barely touched, and so cook those books is starting. Whitney and I will each choose a different cook book each month and cook our way through these books. You can follow our adventures here: https://www.instagram.com/cookthosebooks/

January’s cookbook in NY

If you know me, I’ve probably invited you over for a meal. Sharing food and sharing my love of food with others has in many ways become my favorite part of cooking. I see this project as an extension of sharing. Now, I am stating to share my knowledge of cooking with my friends, family, and whoever else wants to join Whit and I as we cook our way through our respective cookbook collections over the next year. I can’t wait to see and taste what magic happens. #cookthosebooks #makemagic

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