I’m a 27 year old homemaker (it felt really weird to type that) in West Point, Virginia. I recently relocated here from Athens, GA where I was a college bookstore manager for many years. I’ve newly married, moved off, and started a home. I live with my husband and our three cats. Spending time with them is my first priority. Before I had this time on my hands, I wanted to make the most of my time at home, and that meant simple, seasonal recipes that would keep us from the temptations of takeout. Now, I have more time for the kitchen, but I still favor simpler preparations for food over elaborate concoctions with tasteless, out of season, overprocessed “food.” There’s little better feeling than providing something nourishing and original for people you care about. Setting out a meal doesn’t just cover basic human needs; it provides pleasure, too.
I don’t cook because I have to. I cook because I love food, and I want to know what I am eating. I want to eat with confidence and enjoy my food not only because it tastes good, but also because it will nourish me. Eating is one of my greatest pleasures, and I love to be creative. The kitchen allows me a creative outlet that is both fulfilling and productive.
I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen. As a toddler, my playpen was placed near the counter where she did most of her work. When I was slightly older, I played her assistant pastry chef, licking bowls and sampling icings. I was always a devoted eater. Grandma was a traditional Southern chef, frying meats and some vegetables, boiling others, and baking frothy, rich desserts. Bacon and pork made their way into almost every meal I consumed – even if meat wasn’t a main dish! I always loved her cooking. Mealtimes were set at regular hours, and the meat-and-two-with –a-side-of-white rice was standard dinner fare.
However, I was always said to be a picky eater. I didn’t try much ethnic fare until high school, when my involvement with friends and extracurricular groups took me to my first Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and hibachi restaurants. My family’s traditional cooking from our garden and local stores didn’t allow for much of that. As a child, I had a fixation with cooking shows – especially Nathalie Dupree – and I was fascinated with the elegant and complex foods I saw. I just never really had the opportunities to eat them. Once I entered college, I experienced vegetables that didn’t have to be breaded and deep fried or boiled down to a khaki mush. They could be steamed, sautéed, stuffed, roasted – and they were delicious. Now? I love virtually all cuisines, and I love to try new things. I particularly love Mediteranean and Asian foods, but that doesn’t mean I can’t whip up some traditional Southern fare, too. Many of my meals and recipes are vegetarian or vegan; my kitchen philosophy is a global approach based on what looks good at the grocer, what my time allows, and what my mood demands.
So, was I an experienced cook from youth? Definitely not. My grandma ruled her kitchen, and I didn’t have any need for cooking until I was on my own. Early attempts were terrible; I famously have burned both tomato soup and rice. My early and prolonged fascination with cooking shows saved me. Watching Rachael Ray convinced me I could cook. I bought one of her books and started forcing my own hand. I continued watching Food Network, bought more cookbooks, and started analyzing how my meals out were assembled. In time, I felt confident enough to start putting together my own meals and not worry about racing the clock to get them to the table.
Writing those meals and recipes down, as well as my impressions of them became cumbersome. I started this blog to have a place to catalog my favorite original recipes so that I wouldn’t lose or destroy the scraps of paper they were written on. I still use recipes written by others – hence the quiet stretches in publishing – but here I publish strictly original creations. Since starting this blog, the entire process of creating the food blog has come to fascinate me. The photography piece is rough – but it will come along!
I get a lot of questions about the title of this blog. Appoggiatura is a musical term for an embellishment commonly called a grace note. It’s not essential to the melody – just an enhancement. My cooking hobby is just that: an embellishment to a daily task that makes it better and richer than it would be otherwise. I studied music for nearly twenty years, and this was the word that best fits how I feel about what I do.
I welcome your feedback and would love to hear from you. Please enjoy, and if you try out a recipe, let me know how it goes! These are my favorites, and I hope they can become yours, too.