Ruth: Trying New Recipes with the Grandkids
“I just have a sense of accomplishment every time I sit down to eat something I never before dreamed of making.”
Ruth is a true Hero in the Kitchen. After working a full-time job, she comes home and cooks for her 2 grandkids. Through our meal plan service, Ruth has been able to learn new cooking techniques, fall in love with new flavors, and expose the kids to new dishes they would otherwise never try. Keep reading to learn more about this family’s strategies, challenges, and favorites!
Name: Ruth Garrett
City, State: Richmond, Virginia
I cook for: myself and 2 grands.
Outside of the kitchen I: am the controller for Virginia Repertory Theatre.
The one kitchen tool / equipment I cannot live without is: a good chef’s knife!
I cook because: well, mostly because the kids are hungry, but I started cooking well out of self-defense. I was sick to death of fish sticks and pizza!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: It’s a toss-up. The Arroz con Pollo nearly (but not quite) displaced the Tofu Kimchi Fried Rice for the number 1 spot. And of course, anything with miso lime butter!!!
How did you learn to cook?
First, by watching my mom and dad. Later after I got married, my husband’s idea of cooking was to melt cheese on a bagel! My mom always said, “If you can read, you can cook.” It was an interesting comment from a woman who almost never followed a recipe or cracked a cookbook!
What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
I work full-time and have a half-hour commute, not to mention the fact that I’m older than most parents, so by the time I get home, I’m pretty tired. Days like that, a phone call to the pizza parlour is pretty tempting.
You cook for your grandkids, who can be picky eaters at times. What strategies do you use to get them to try new things?
My grands came to live with me when they were 8 and 4 years old. Their parents had little interest in cooking, so they had survived on chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Getting them to eat “real” food has been a struggle. They’re 8 and 12 now and we’re making progress, but it’s slow-going.
If it is at all possible, I serve the meal deconstructed so they can pick and choose what they want. For instance, a recent recipe had spinach, bell peppers, and artichoke hearts in a sauce over tortellini. 8-year-old grandson would only eat the tortellini and broth with parmesan cheese. I decided that was a success and gave him baby carrots on the side. I’ve had to let go of thinking the only successful meal is one in which they both eat everything offered.
“Cook Smarts has introduced me to foods I had never tried before, some of which I’d never even heard of.”
How has your cooking routine changed since using Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I try to do the weekend prep, but am not always successful. Even if I don’t do it in advance, I do all the prep prior to starting to “cook.” I never realized how much easier cooking is when you don’t have to stop to measure 2 tablespoons of flour, because it’s ready to go in a pinch bowl. That’s probably my single favorite discovery.
What have you learned since starting Cook Smarts?
Probably the most important lesson is that real cooking just isn’t as hard as I thought. Cook Smarts has introduced me to foods I had never tried before, some of which I’d never even heard of. I’ve used new techniques and found new favorite flavors, especially garam masala, miso, and chimichurri! Yum. I also learned that you only use the white part of leeks. Haha!
Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
There’s not one that stands out. Instead, I just have a sense of accomplishment every time I sit down to eat something I never before dreamed of making.
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
Use fresh produce and make your own sauces and dressings. Who knew how much better things could taste?! I’d rather serve a cold deli meat sandwich on a busy night than spaghetti with sauce from a jar!
Ruth, thank you so much for giving us a window into your kitchen life! We are thrilled that Cook Smarts has helped open up a world of new flavors and cooking styles for you and your grandkids. We can just tell that you cook with so much love and are honored to contribute to the joy you experience in the kitchen!