Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Food Crush

There is an episode of South Park that I'd love to post on here (along with a title change) that totally describes my love for food, cooking, and a particular celebrity chef, but it's completely inappropriate. So the following words will have to suffice.



Nigella Lawson.

I've gone through two of her cookbooks, used a few of her recipes, watched her on YouTube and I'm pretty much beyond infatuated impressed with both her presentation and her delicious food.

Her deal seems to be this: Cooking for others and yourself is one of the greatest, most nurturing things you can do. I tend to agree. I grew up in a household where meals were, if not prepared with a lot of care and love, at least had that essence of "I'm making this for my family and I love them." I know my mom would probably laugh at this, because she has been pretty frank in the past that she's not always thrilled to have the responsiblity of cooking dinner, but every meal she served us always had that dash of "I love you" in it.

Nigella Lawson fully and completely represents that sort of cooking.

I also love that her recipes, for the most part, are not these ridiculous and unattainable dishes (both in ability needed and checkbook needed). Many have just a few ingredients that you're likely to have kicking around or can pick up rather inexpensively at the grocery store or local market. And while she's a proponent of fresh and organic ingredients, her books are not obnoxious or preachy about it. I've followed other celeb chef/cook recipes before (example: I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my family last year using only Martha Stewart recipes--a expensive, though delicious, nightmare), and none compare to the taste and ease of what Nigella offers.

Plus, she makes cooking seem sexy:

And, in addition to all that, her cookbooks are actually really fun to read. Her literar voice is very strong and conversational, so you feel like you're reading more of a food diary or commentary rather than a super-informative text-booky kind of thing. It's like having a friend teach you how to cook something (and I really want to be Nigella's friend...).

Here are a few recipes I've tried and LOVED and have made again and again:
Toad in the Hole (WAY tastier than it sounds and no real toads, only tastey sausage)
Crustless Pizza (Two things here. One, you can totally use lower fat ingredients in this--it still tastes great. And two, really not a crustless pizza, but more like a sauceless one. Lizzie and I have started calling it Cheddar cheese pie after the favorite food of Angelina Ballerina.)
Chocolate Banana Muffins (SO good, even after they've been sitting around for a bit)
Apple and Cinnamon Muffins (Another really good one. I made these, the chocolate banana ones and some blueberry corn muffins--can't find the recipe for that one online--and could have eaten all of them by myself. The best.)

One of my goals on my "Ultimate To Do List" (see above) is to use a new recipe each week. While I haven't quite lived up to that goal quite yet, I've started to come closer by reading not only Nigella's cookbooks, but others as well (though hers are my favorite). Besides wanting to be more adventurous in the kitchen, reading her books and attempting to try something new more often has made me more aware of what I feed myself and my family. It's been hard these past few years to always give everyone wholesome meals. Sometimes I'm too tired or we lacked the funds to get the ingredients I really wanted, but things are changing. I'm hoping with out new job situation (i.e. me having one), I'll be able to cook up the good stuff more often (though, where I'll find the energy, I'm not sure!).

If anything, Nigella gets me salivating and gives me the ambition and creativity I need to get cooking (literally) when the moment calls, even if it's just plain old spaghetti.

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