I’ve always loved to cook. I grew up in a family that cooked. I have very fond memories of working together with my grandmother, mother and sisters to put together a Hanukkah celebration at the St. Louis Botanical Garden. I have fond memories of making pies late on Christmas eve with my dad and sisters. Most of my cooking memories when I was younger involved family and the holidays. My sisters and I also used have what we called ‘gourmet lunch’ on occasion. Looking back I realize this was a way for our babysitter to get us to prepare lunch but we loved it. Everyone drew a course and went to work making something for the group with whatever was available in the kitchen. It was a Food Network Chopped before that came around. Some of the dishes worked and some of the more creative ones weren’t quite as delicious or edible! As I got older(high school age) and could cook by myself, my mom often asked me to help with dinner. I loved that being in the kitchen but what I didn’t love was following a recipe. I wanted to be creative, not measuring and following directions.
I love cookbooks for their delicious stories about food and the ideas they provide for mixing new ingredients together. Check out our Pinterest Board for some of our favorite cookbooks. Unless I am baking, I typically use recipes as a guideline for flavors and quantities but allow myself to stray. I learned a great lesson from my son’s teacher last year… Once you have done something the right way (i.e. followed the recipe or built the Lego kit the way it is intended to be built) you can do it in a new way. This is a great lesson for a three-year-old and for grown-ups. Then I came across this great article in the New York Times by Sam Sifton, You Don’t Need a Recipe. In the article Mr. Sifton describes guidelines for cooking a certain dish but not a strict recipe. He points out that it takes practice to have the confidence to execute a dish without following a recipe but we can all get there if we try. I got some great ideas from the flavor profiles he outlined and signed up to receive the What to Cook Newsletter and get no-recipe ‘recipes’ sent to my inbox each week.
I cook dinner 6-7 nights a week at my house so I am always looking for inspiration on what to bring to the table. Some of the dishes will be winners with my family and some won’t; that is all part of the process. Follow our Instagram account(@juliesbeet) and check out our stories to see what I am cooking most nights of the week. When a dish works out, I often publish a recipe in the form of an Instagram post or place it in the Recipe Box on the Julie’s Beet Website. I hope you’ll follow along!