about shawndra,
the cook behind the blog

My mom always said that I must have started cooking out of a self-survival instinct because she never enjoyed it and didn’t want to put in the time and effort to get good at it (although some of my all-time favorite dishes are based on her recipes!). Whether the self-survival story is true or not, I do know that I was interested from a very young age. I have always loved the process of creating food that nurtures, excites, comforts, and/or delights people.

However, it wasn’t until I was a young wife and the mother of three boys that I really started honing my skills. I began checking cookbooks out of the library to read them like novels, and watching any cooking show that was on PBS – long before there were any channels completely devoted to foodcraft … Jacques and Julia, the Galloping Gourmet, Wok with Yan … they all became my teachers. But I didn’t really become a great cook until I realized that recipes are just a launching pad to creating food that is tailored to our particular tastes – they aren’t an exact formula, they’re a guideline, a starting point.

That is what I want to share with this blog. I want to empower you try, test, explore, and discover how to make food that is delicious for you. That’s why I always give options in the “Make it Your Way” section. I also understand that there are many approaches to cooking – those who will closely follow recipe instructions to the “T”, and those who have a solid understanding of methods but just need a high-level guideline – if this is you, check out every recipe’s “Cliff Notes” section. And, for beginner cooks, those who are in a hurry, or people who just want to make delicious food quickly and easily, the “Simplify It” section is just for you.

But most of all, the videos that accompany the recipes are created to show you the steps for each recipe with a particular focus on difficult or unusual steps. Feel free to pause, rewind, replay, and double check until you feel confident, if that is what will help you get into the kitchen. If something doesn’t make sense, ask me! I do my best to read all the messages and answer as many questions as possible.

But most importantly, you won’t learn to cook by just watching others. Get in the kitchen yourself and try. You may make mistakes – our family still talks about my infamous nutmeg-seasoned taco meat (nutmeg and cumin look very similar if you don’t read labels!) and the completely inedible “Tom Selleck’s Favorite Chicken” (I’m sure it must have been an unauthorized use of his name), but so what? Just learn from them and move on! The rewards are astounding, and delicious!

Now go and create your deliciousness!