I cook because I want to create memories and traditions.
For Kitchen Hero Christine, food and cooking is not only for healthy eating; it’s a way to bond with her family and spend quality time with them. While she has encountered many successes in the kitchen, whether it is learning to chop an onion or making a dish she has never made before, her proudest moments are undoubtedly the ones when her family gathers in the kitchen to accompany Christine as she prepares dinner. Read her Hero in the Kitchen story below and discover how family plays a great part in Christine’s cooking journey.
City, State: Dublin, CA
I cook for: my amazing 9-year-old daughter, my adorable husband and occasionally, my totally cool 16-year-old stepson.
Outside of the kitchen: I watch my kids play sports, read, cycle, sleep and cross-stitch.
If I could have any superpower, it would be: to be with my kids all the time.
I cook because: I want to be healthy; I want to create memories and traditions; and I love to eat.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: There are so many: Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, Black Bean and Chard Enchiladas, Honey-Mustard Chicken Tacos with Peach Salsa and Avocado Crème, and Shrimp Peanut Noodles with Red Peppers and Cabbage.
How did you learn to cook?
I had the world’s best mother [pictured above in bottom left corner], but she didn’t cook so much as barely manage to get dinner on the table. She and my dad worked full time and we lived paycheck to paycheck. We had about five meals we rotated through: tuna noodle casserole, spaghetti, tacos, fish sticks and mac ‘n’ cheese, and hamburgers.
My mom didn’t get a lot of joy from cooking; she was a working mom with two kids and a picky husband. Being poor, she had very little in the way of money for exotic foods and kitchen gadgets to make cooking easier. So, with that role model I never learned a joy for cooking, and I never learned any special skills beyond boiling water, turning on an oven and browning meat!
As a young adult, I joined Weight Watchers and began making meals from many of their cookbooks. Recently, I got divorced and remarried and became inspired to find a way to put healthy, homemade meals on the table for my daughter.
I had tried pinning meals on Pinterest, buying food magazines, making meals at those trendy dinner-making venues (that have since all gone out of business here in NorCal), etc. Nothing was working, and putting a menu together for a week’s worth of meals was taking way too much time!
Finally, one day I stumbled across a Groupon for a menu planning service that turned out to be the answer to my problems…Cook Smarts! Because I never really learned to cook, I had trouble trusting myself, my abilities and the recipes. So, in the beginning I was cooking a few meals from the weekly menus on an inconsistent basis. Slowly, as the meals proved themselves fantastic, I began to cook more and more. Now I am bummed when something gets in the way of me being able to cook the whole week’s menu!
What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
Having faith in the recipe, and realizing that you really do need the right tool for the job (but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive tool to be the right tool).
Time is an issue, too, but every time I push through and carve out the time to plan and shop, I am rewarded many times over throughout the week when there is a meal planned for me to cook at home, instead of having to run and grab something that night at the store, or worse, fast-food.
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Cook Smarts got me back in the habit of menu planning and grocery shopping once a week. I really love having a plan and knowing that dinners are not something I will need to worry about throughout the week. I also love that the menus do not require trips to different stores.
I also love that I am able to fix my family real food, not pre-packaged, processed junk! We sit at a table and eat, and most of the time they are gathered around me at the bar while I prepare dinner, too! That means so much to me…to have that time together chatting about our days, spending quality time together!
“Cook Smarts has really helped me accomplish my goal of having family meals that consist of real food, not pre-packaged, processed junk!”
Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
I don’t really have a proud moment. I have had many small victories. One small victory I remember was buying and using an immersion blender for the first time…it was amazing and so very easy! That was fairly early in my Cook Smarts days and my confidence really soared. Oh, and learning to chop an onion was a life changing experience!
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
TRUST! Trust in yourself and in the Cook Smarts team. So many times in the beginning I skipped a recipe because I didn’t think it sounded good, but after some time and a good number of meals under my belt, I came to realize that there had yet to be a meal that my husband and I disliked so much we wouldn’t eat it.
Also, a fair number of times, I skipped a recipe in the beginning because it involved cooking techniques that intimidated me. Again, with a few meals under my belt my confidence rose, and I realized that cooking is not an exact science and it’s harder to mess it up than I thought!
And don’t forget to breathe and have fun!
Thanks for sharing your amazing cooking story with us, Christine! We’re so honored to be able to help out and be a part of creating these delicious memories and traditions with you. We’re very lucky to have you in our cooking community. You rock!
To join Christine and cook meals like her favorite Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, Black Bean and Chard Enchiladas, Honey-Mustard Chicken Tacos with Peach Salsa and Avocado Crème, and Shrimp Peanut Noodles with Red Peppers and Cabbage, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!