I used to hate cooking. Food was foreign, complicated and something I simply didn’t get. To be honest, finding myself now as an editor at a food magazine still sometimes surprises me.
My mom’s the same. Or rather, I was the same as her – which fully explains why, when I started working for Clean Eating magazine, I mispronounced edamame and thought quinoa was the name of a foreign car.
I can’t quite pinpoint exactly when I decided that food was where I belonged, but somewhere between my last year of journalism school and my first full-time job, I learned to cook. And much to my surprise, I learned to love it.
I do know that the catalyst to my transformation into a foodie was undoubtedly the loss of my grandmother six years ago. She was a skilled baker and a phenomenal cook, and through her countless holiday tins of cookies and that one to-die-for gravy recipe, she ultimately shaped my life.
Her talent didn’t come from a professional culinary degree – hers was the kind attuned through decades of trial, error and practice, practice, practice. She cooked because she loved to, not because she had to, and with every shortbread cookie and dollop of icing came something I’ve yet to find in the finest of bake shops: an undeniable, unwavering, deeply passionate love.
After the dust of her funeral had settled and my life began to pick up where it left off before she’d died, I sensed a noticeable gap in my everyday being. My grief had transcended beyond the expected mourning, and I yearned for a way to connect with the woman I so dearly missed.
That following Christmas, when struggling to deal with my family’s collective grief at spending the first holiday without her, I decided to surprise my mom, dad and sister by making my grandmother’s signature recipe, the one that we could always depend on to show up as we gathered around her tree every December.
I made her famous shortbread cookies, mirroring everything, right down to the ruby red cherry that sits atop each flaky, melt-in-your-mouth diamond cookie. It was then, as I carefully shaped and kneaded the dough with tender, loving fingers, that I realized why she cooked, and why I needed to cook too.
Over the following few years, I gradually worked my way through her extensive collection of handwritten recipe cards, gaining both confidence and skill along the way. In her distinguished scrawl, she silently guided me through the art of learning to cook, from her kitchen to my own.
It became an addiction. There were more than a few nights when friends or roommates found me creaming butter or whisking eggs well into the twilight hours. I found my grandmother in every twirl of a whisk or stir of a wooden spoon. From there, I started a food blog to chronicle my ups and downs, and to share my grandmother’s recipes with family and friends.
The simple satisfaction I felt in finding and sharing love through food is ultimately what led me to where I am today, working to provide Clean Eating readers with recipes they can make with love and share with their friends and families for years to come.
Just for you, I’ve cleaned up one of my grandmother’s classic recipes, a savory pie filled to the brim with salmon, asparagus, chives and Parmesan. Not only is it incredibly easy to make – just 10 minutes! – but it made my kitchen smell amazing as it burbled away in the oven. It’s perfect for a Sunday brunch or a satisfying weekday lunch that can be made the night before.