After I got married a million years ago, I suddenly became responsible for providing meals on a daily basis for my husband, and I had to learn how to cook. There was a time in our early marriage when I would brown ground beef and add a box of Hamburger Helper and feel like I had really accomplished something in the kitchen. And let’s be real - I HAD. I successfully fed myself and my husband. I followed directions on a box and combined ingredients. And no one got sick people rarely got sick in the aftermath of my cooking.
My cooking has come a long way since then. I don’t know what prompted it, other than me just being tired of cooking the same stuff every single week (“Thursday is frozen pizza night!”). But somewhere along the way, I started loving to cook. I guess it became a way that I could be creative. I obsessively watched the Food Network and tried to remember all of the tricks and tips that I saw the professional TV chefs show me. I tried to pay attention to what ingredients “paired nicely.” I was constantly looking for new recipes to try. I would think for days about my menu plan for the coming week. I was always on the lookout for a great new cookbook. I geeked out so hard on food and cooking that for my birthday one year, I asked my husband for this book:
When I met Whitney and we discovered our mutual love of food/cooking, we immediately clicked because we could always discuss our plans for dinner, what recipes we had tried that worked/didn’t work, bounce ideas off of one another, etc. Whitney and I even invented this thing called “Cook-Along” where we get together and one of us teaches the other our “go to” recipes. (Let’s be honest, we both have this daydream that we are actually on the Food Network, displaying our cute southern charm as well as our best kitchen secrets as people in our live studio audience smile at each other and whisper, “aren’t they adorable?” as we teach them how to properly season their oven roasted chicken. But, I digress.)
Through the course of my cooking experiences, I have fallen completely in love with certain ingredients. Whitney talks about her love for ingredients, specifically, almond extract here. Well, this is mine:
|Hello, Beautiful. I bought this locally grown basil from the Farmer's Market that is a few blocks from our house.|
That’s it: fresh basil. I love everything about fresh basil. I wish that I could have a basil-scented air freshener for my whole house. Every single chance I get, I use it in cooking. I use basil propaganda to get other friends to use it when they cook. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. I use it when I make marinara sauce; I put it in Alfredo sauce (the recipe I use calls for parsley but YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME); and don’t even get me started on how many different uses I can find for fresh basil pesto (homemade pizza, italian sub sandwiches, toothpaste…ok, maybe not that last one). This ingredient is so versatile and flavorful, it is almost guaranteed to take an average dish to the next level.
So what about ya’ll? What ingredients are you crazy for? Which ones do you spread propaganda about?