I love to cook.
I try new recipes constantly. Sometimes they are epic and other times, they are epic fails. In the last week, my husband did not care for two of the meals I made. I keep trying though. My best attempts are always with Latino and Italian dishes. The flavors are familiar to me so I feel a little more free to try new things and understand the preparation more easily. That is why I love to cook simple things like buttered noodles with pan cooked chicken tenderloins, taco salad, chicken quesadillas, rice dishes, and pasta.
My mother and grandmother taught me how to cook. My grandma always said, “This is how I do it, but once you know the basics, you just make it how you like it.” She always encouraged making things your own. My mom even said, “This is how I do it, but my mom does this…” That influenced my different take on rice and beans, arroz con gandules, guacamole, and bistec. I always have to call my mom or grandma to remind me how to cook bistec because I do not cook it often but it is delicious! I should really write down more of my recipes so I don’t have to call but its nice having a quick chat anyway. My grandma and mom usually use garlic, cilantro, onion, and green pepper (the base for any Puerto Rican dish really). I add in different types of peppers or tomatoes to change up the flavor profiles. Some of my favorite add-ins are poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, cherokee tomatoes and sungold tomatoes. I also like to add in other fresh herbs like basil and parsley. Adobo goes on everything, that’s just a rule.
I have so many memories of cooking and baking with my family and friends. Of failures and successes. Like the perfect batch of hand-mixed cookies which involved passing the bowl around so us sisters could all stir at some point. Cooking bistec or rice and beans with my mom. Trying different recipes and seeing how good they were. Baking and decorating cookie bars for our wedding reception. Many failed dinners for my husband. My sister having plenty of cooking fails in the house I grew up in. Making Christmas cookies together. Having delicious salads with almost every dinner growing up. The stories could go on and on. My family would sit together and talk about our day while we enjoyed dinner together. Food brings people together and gives us so many special moments and memories. My husband and I still carry this out. We do not eat at separate times and just pull things from the cabinets and freezer. We use fresh ingredients and cook, often together. Its important to us to eat together and enjoy our food.
Confession: I do use refrigerated cookie dough because I just cannot seem to bake them right no matter how many attempts I make, anyone have a good recipe to share?
Make food matter. Look at what you are putting into your body. Don’t let it be filled with chemicals. Don’t let it be boring and bland. Learn some new tricks and skills and prepare food with love.
Grandma Lydia’s Bistec de Bola
1-2 lbs Top Round Steak (Bistec de Bola at your local Latino grocery store.)
Serve over rice, in a tortilla, or with a side salad. Simple, quick, and delicious.