Culinary Evolution

I used to cook for fun.  For hours.  I loved to host people and put out a spread and watch them enjoy it… when they did.  Sometimes I enjoyed watching them sweat because my food was so inordinately spicy.  My husband (when we were mere acquaintances) was the first person ballsy enough to tell me my food burned people’s faces and that it wasn’t necessarily a good thing.  Gotta love Aussie bluntness.  And I do.  It was refreshing then as it is still.  It was downright hot actually.

My mother is a great cook and baker, of the chemistry variety.  She is a brilliant woman with more degrees than I can accurately remember most of the time.  She teaches at seminary, owns and runs a sport-horse farm and is the greenest of green thumbs I know.  She and my father, also a great cook, brought me up in the kitchen.  I went to Mexico on an exchange and developed my love for spice… and also came home with a ton of scary little friends that ransacked my health for years and changed the foods I consume altogether.

Mom’s taste and cooking style are nearly polar opposite to mine… she is a mega meat eater and loves subtly sweet things and cheese and beef and bacon drippings in her eggs.  She makes the best thanksgiving spread I have ever had and yet is swiftly becoming a keto master, and therefore mine. Yes, Sensei. I on the other hand, am more of an extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and power greens girl.  I love fermented foods, rich, smooth coffee, densely bittersweet desserts, dark red wine, a neat Scotch (Whiskey) and Tequila Blanco.  For my and my amazing mother, it is total blood type difference. O vs A. I am not vegan but I love vegan food and try to eat as plant based as possible on a mostly Paleo but completely sugar free diet.

My husband and children have tamed my taste for spice, and my health has drawn me further up and further in to the beautiful and expansive world of nutrition.  I nearly went to University for Nutrition, but went after Journalism and came out with a Political Science degree instead… due to my poor health and the desire to just be finished (long story).

I had the privilege of traveling all over the world during my YWAM years and lived probably more life than my age would suggest; cooking in kitchens from Scotland to Norway, France, Spain and Morocco.  I have eaten bread hot from an outdoor oven (in an alley) with Turkish & Syrian women in Antakya and learned how to make Turkish coffee in a cafe of the same city.  I enjoyed the clean, rich flavors of Cambodia which became spicier the closer we came to Thailand.  My husband and I enjoyed the best cups of coffee we have ever had while squatting with a woman in Ethiopia who roasted it in a pan, ground it and brewed it all before our very eyes.  I found Australia has the best black pepper pies (sorry England), the UK has the best fish and chips, and Chinese food is entirely different (and wonderfully clean) when made by a Chinese family in their own home.

Children changed my cooking dramatically as I became tired of scraping carefully prepared exotic (and expensive) foods off the floor.  My son’s adventurous taste buds went from Moussaka to to PB&J shortly after he turned one and my girls followed a similar pattern.

We moved to Northern Ireland and my “missionary frugal,” which was already more frugal than American frugal, proved to be almost extravagant in light of how most people lived.  I learned how to be Irish frugal with my grocery bill and found that my kids started eating their dinners.  I began gardening and learning about the differences in nutrition between the food you buy in the store and the food you can grow at home.  I read Nourishing Traditions and began fermenting… and found I loved it.  It became my new creative outlet because it was frankly so inexpensive to do and the results were a party in my mouth.  I brewed my own ginger beer and probiotic sparkling sodas.  I discovered that milk kefir took away my sons dark circles under his eyes and his cracked lips and helped me with my anxiety and food allergies.  N. Ireland did not work out for us as a family.  It was too far from America and too far From Australia and our extended families for our liking, but it was the place where my love of food and God’s hand in it was renewed.

Food speaks to me.  I use it to speak to others.  My cooking has evolved from elaborate to simple to extremely health focused. I love every new challenge that comes my way whether it is making high protein nut-free paleo muffins for my children’s school snacks or something to satisfy my desire for richness on the very restrictive anti-mycotoxin (and anti-cancer) Kauffman diet.  I am incredibly picky about what I put in my mouth so it is a challenge.

Once, when my husband and I were in Scotland waiting for his Green Card to come to the US, I wrote a cookbook for my friends.  I had planned two, and had the recipes ready to begin working on it when we found ourselves pregnant with Matthew and my world changed for the better.  I’ve linked that book below in PDF for you to peruse and enjoy, but know that I have changed every recipe in it more than once.  I no longer use shortening or any unhealthy fats.  I stick with grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil.  And my cooking is simple these days.  If I can’t put together a meal in 20-30 minutes, then my family is getting quesadillas and carrot sticks.  Gotta have a fallback.

But here’s my foodie days of old for you to peruse.  It was a therapeutic work and not intended to be a wedge into any sort of marketplace, though some family members did buy some hard copies from a printer and it’s fun to see them.  I have updated all the recipes so if you’re interested in that shoot me an email and I’ll send you a slightly less user friendly pdf, which is by my current health and timeliness standards, outdated. This is where I LOL.

Enjoy.  Or laugh.  Whatever suits you best.

World In My Kitchen

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