Friday, January 14, 2011

The cooks in my life


All my life, I’ve been surrounded by people who love to cook. I literally grew up in the kitchen watching my parents prepare meals everyday. Like some little girls, I used to bake cakes and cookies with my mom and sister. I remember my mom hoarding pre-mixed cake boxes from the States because they were easy to make and fun to decorate, but most of the time, we baked from scratch. It was fun, especially when we forgot to put sugar in the mix. It's sugar glaze time! Haha!

My mom and grandmother were also big on cooking. Whenever we had our family reunion, you could expect all the women in our clan to congregate inside the kitchen and whip up their specialties while catching up on each others lives. How wonderful is that?

My dad is also a great cook! He loves seafood. I remember when he had a fishing business; we'd go down by the waters and he’d cook grilled seafood and squeeze calamansi on it —simple yet amazing flavors!

Sunday brunch is what my siblings and I look forward to. We used to get up early on Sunday mornings, cook Maya pancakes, Vienna sausages, and prepare a special table setting for our parents. My dad would always whip out a jar of wheat germ and sprinkle it all over our food (no matter what it was... seriously, we use to eat it on rice, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. You get the picture) and would tell us "This is to get rid of the bad cholesterol in your food." He is a healthy eater and I think I'm slowly becoming one! Good job, dad!

Looking back, my siblings and I learned how to cook and bake as we grew up in a household where our parents made cooking fun and healthy. I want my kids to experience that too.
Now that my folks are living in the States, I miss cooking with them. I'm glad Tom loves to cook so we make everyday meals together.

I look forward to Aryanna cooking for us when Tom and I are older. She's already a good baker and can cook simple food.


If you don't have anyone to cook with, or you don't know how to cook or if cooking lessons are not in the family budget, look for easy recipes on the internet and start learning! Make cooking with your family an occasion — it's the best way to teach kids how to cook, eat real food, and learn how to be around the kitchen.

Tip: Salt and flour are the best products to help put out accidental fires in the kitchen.

Here are some of the "cooks" in my life that inspire me everyday and I hope they inspire you too:

I judge a cookbook by it's cover. These are a few of my favorite cookbooks because they have good food shots and delicious recipes.
From left: Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld is great for cooking healthy meals for kids. She incorporates a lot of veggies into her recipe without the leafy taste. Let's cook with Nora Daza is my go-to cook book for classic, Pinoy recipes.
Rachel Ray's The Big Orange Book is packed with easy, flavorful recipes. I totally get Rachel Ray, not everyone does (some are annoyed by her) because like her, I have so much info that I can totally out talk (and out blog) anyone! Haha!

Here are some of Tom's favorite cook books:

From left: New Food by Jill Dupliex is one of Tom's favorite cook books. It has great photography, it's well-written, and has innovative yet delicious recipes. Barbara Kafka's Roasting is the book you buy if you want to know everything about roasting. The Mediterranean Prescription by Angelo Acquista, M.D. is a book with meal plans and recipes. This book helps you stay slim for life!

Small books, big flavors:

From left: Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Book is my go-to book during the holidays when my family and I cook cookies all-day long. Cook This Not That is something I wish I thought of writing. It has easy to follow recipes that cut the calories of traditional dishes that are usually packed with fat, sodium, and sugar. I subscribe to Readers's Digest because it's a good read. The 7 Meals That Can Change Your Life article was life-changing for me.

The men in my kitchen:

From left: The very first time Jamie Oliver came out with The Naked Chef Takes Off, Tom and I became instant J.O. fans! We love his food philosophy: "Food and healthy eating has always been about enjoying everything in a balanced, and sane way." Wolgang Puck is my mentor when it comes to glamorous and decadent cooking. He can turn an everyday pizza recipe into a sinful treat with caviar and créme fresh! Mario Batalli's Molto Gusto is now one of my favorite cookbooks! Authentic Italian meals that is easy to cook plus, I love reading his cookbooks as I learn so much about techniques, history, and other facts about cooking and food.

The icons:

I have yet to buy this book. I cannot believe that I don't own a single Martha Stewart book when I LOVE her! I do watch her shows religiously.
I love Julia Child! I've always wanted to buy her books but never got around to it until my husband surprised me this Christmas with the SIGNED first edition of both her books! I was blown away! I still can't believe I have them! They are old, worn-out, and they smell like they've been in the kitchen for a long time — best smell ever!
To date, one of my prized possessions.

All of our cook books have battle scars (read: food stains, oils stains, warp pages from the having the book close to our steamer, and lots of post-its stuck to the pages) from years of using them as references. I love it!

Bust out your cookbooks and start cooking! The only way you will learn is by trying. God knows how many cakes I've cooked rock hard and burnt meals. It's only by making mistakes that we learn how to do better.

I am going to try to cook Julia Child's Beouf Bourguignon this month. I have to prepare for this and find the best ingredients. Will update you about it. I'm so excited!
In our cookbooks, you will find handwritten recipes of Tom that he tweaked to make it his own. He cooks sophisticated dishes using the most basic ingredients. I will share some of his recipes soon.

Shoppingero/shoppingera, who has influenced you to cook? What's your favorite dish to cook?


Vea Alvaro said...

Omg! I've been wanting to try Julia Child's Beouf Bourguignon eversince I have seen the movie Julie and Julia! Lookin forward to hear about your version of it!

Pipaya Moments said...

I've been bravin' the kitchen since I got married, it was a challenge I tell you! but it is one of the most rewarding skills ever! I find Youtube, the cooking channel, and your recipe very helpful too! I get inspired by visuals so it works for me! please keep those healthy recipe coming!!

Maricon said...

Hi Ms. Jenni! Just done reading your "cooks in my life"'s a great reading and i luv it!!! reminds me to be more thankful to the two great cooks of my life, my mama and my hubby...They are the ones who fill my tummy with sumptuous hubby does that more frequently than my mom now though...(just got married last May.. :))I do cook too but i like it more when my hubby takes the kitchen...I find it sexy and sweet ( i must admit though that he is a greater cook than I am...) We do have cook books also but the ones we treasure most are the hand written cook books of my hubby's grandma. It has the treasured recipes of the family and am glad that my hubby was given the honor to keep them...hope to share some of the recipes one of these days...i still have to ask permission..:)

anyways, love reading your blogs! continue inspiring us & enjoy balancing FFF!!!

Lee P. Malapad said...

This "Cooks in my life" post made me think of the cookbooks I lost in the flood during Typhoon Milenyo but more importantly reminded me of the cooks who influenced my cooking:My Lola Chita who made the perfect adobo,my Mom's tasty sopas,my Dad's papaitan,my brother's spicy saucy crabs,and my sister's Filipino spaghetti.
Here's how you've got me hooked on your blog too which I discovered through Twitter(including Ichigo which is a very funny one).I bought a Valero shirt,made an adobo based on your recipe,followed your kitchen throwdowns with Tom (when's the next one?),got me a peep at Phil Fashion Week,and inspired me to be even more fun as a Mom (Ate,pleeaase be careful on the waveboard!).
Thank u Ms Jenni!

Maureen Manuel said...

Hi Ms. Jenni, I really love your blog bec it touches not only fashion but also having a healthy lifestyle. I hope you can also post recipes that is light,healthy and suits for a college student :D

jean zavala said...

When you replied to my tweets, I feel overwhelmed. When I read your blog/s, I learn a lot. I’m not a fashionista but I am inspired with your ideas, taste of clothes & style and of course your adventures. Keep it up. Your family is lovely and so are you. Have a nice weekend!!!

Rei Ben said...

i could somehow relate to this post of yours. I grew up in a family who loves cooking. my mom spends most of her time in the kitchen. she loves cooking based on what she feels. she first follows what's on the recipe and then later make her own version of the food. Sad to say, she never had the time to teach me how to cook when i was young. I never paid much attention anyway. But now that im all grown up and im living with friends who are very passionate when it comes to food, i am now starting to try my hands on cooking. we have recipe books here at home but what we usually do is mimic the foods we eat in restaurants. i think this is the post i loved the most. keep on spreading knowledge and happiness. you're by far, my favorite blogger. :)

triz said...

I love this particular post of yours because it got me to my senses. I'm 22 years old already and i still don't know how to cook, well except for the basic frying and steaming! haha. I should learn soon. But I do love baking, for me it's easier than cooking. :)

Mom-Friday said...

I have so many inspirations, my mom is one, but i'm just too lazy! This year, it's one of my goals - to cook more often and with healthier options for my picky eaters. I want that 'Deceptively Delicious' cookbook, and like you, I also love Rachel Ray

JM said...

I love Spanish and Mexican cooking books. I am a fan of Rick Bayless. His books dwell mainly on Mexican food.

Jenni Epperson said...

Hi JM!

We love Mexican Cuisine! In fact, we cook Mexican food 2 to 3 times a week! It's easy and yummy!

Thanks for the heads up! I'll check out that cookbook!

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