I’m so excited to introduce our latest Hero in the Kitchen Sidney Kohls, who shows us that cooking is a skill that has to be nurtured and developed. Read more about Sidney’s story below.
Name: Sidney Kohls
City, State: Oakland, California
Outside of the kitchen I: Fundraise for a K-12 private school and am training for Swim Across America, a 1.5 mile swim underneath the Golden Gate Bridge to raise money for cancer
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: Curry Noodle and Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas with Chard
CS: Did you grow up cooking?
I grew up with a mom who could make a mean pumpkin cheesecake but always overcooked our veggies (which is the way I still like mine!). On the other hand, my dad is a solid cook, but because he’s been cooking a lot of the same dishes for decades, can kind of fly by the seat of his pants. He doesn’t follow many recipes, so my attempts to duplicate his signature dishes were sure to disappoint.
CS: What were your main cooking challenges?
I had a tendency to under-prepare; I never got all the right ingredients or never prepped them ahead of time. I would often get halfway through a recipe and realize I didn’t have the right spice, or I hadn’t added an ingredient in the right order. As a result, I got frustrated and ended up relying on a lot of pretty gross fall-back meals like pasta with jarred marinara sauce, quesadillas, and frozen meals. It was so boring and so unbalanced, but the idea of cooking after a day at work was unappealing and made me kind of anxious. I was totally not confident in the kitchen.
CS: How have you grown in the kitchen?
I’ve been using Cook Smarts’ Meal Plans for a few months, and I already feel like I have some new culinary weapons in my arsenal. The service helps me avoid being unprepared (one of my main challenges) with grocery lists and prep sections. They are a life-saver. The meal plans have also taught me how to stir-fry and actually make my own stir-fry sauces, which has made my life so much better! When my boyfriend or my friends actually compliment what I’ve cooked, or when I get any ooh’s and at work with my leftovers I know I’ve done something right.
Now, most days I look forward to winding down while mincing garlic and stir-frying. I’m excited to try new recipes, because even if I don’t sit down until 8:30 for dinner, I can now sit down with a feeling of pride. That, plus a glass of wine can be a super reward at the end of a weekday. Also, for the first time in a long time I don’t own a microwave! It’s kind of the best way to avoid eating crappy, processed food!
CS: Being able to cook allows me to _______.
Feel secure and make an investment in my health.
Being healthy and able to provide myself with delicious and substantive meals means a lot to me, especially looking towards my future. To me, being able to cook means that I have a foundation to rely on so that as I grow older and become even more confident with my cooking, I can keep up this healthy eating lifestyle and hopefully share it with my future family too.
CS: What advice would you give to new cooks?
Just start with one or two meals a week! Four servings is enough for a few days, including lunches, so you can ease into cooking while feeling the benefits of healthy home cooking. When you take baby steps in the kitchen, there’s not as much pressure and it’s easier to enjoy the process. Plus, that leaves more than enough time in the week for dinner and drinks with friends, which is a hard thing to give up :).
Thanks Sidney for sharing your cooking journey and inspiring us to keep at it in the kitchen. Good luck with your swimming and cooking training!