How did you get involved in cooking to begin with? Was it something you learned to love early on or did you come to it later?
I got involved in cooking thanks to my dad. He was the cook of our family and I was always a daddy’s girl—it was an awesome way to spend time with him. Growing up if it wasn’t for my dad, I would have had to learn how to cook the hard way. His favorite dish was smothered chicken, and I remember my first try at making it...well, we won’t go there!! Cooking has always been a joyful part of my life, and it brings back fond memories of being with my dad, who was, by the way, quite the B-B-Q king! I really did learn everything I know about cooking from dear ol’ dad. Which I guess explains a lot of my good feelings about cooking: to me, it’s all about family and love!
All of this was a great help when my son came along—by the time he was five, he had one of the most developed palates around! We were in a restaurant and the child’s plate came with applesauce, but he said he wanted coleslaw. When the waiter told him he wouldn’t like it because of its strong flavors, I knew he didn’t know my son. I said, “You heard the boy. Bring him coleslaw!!” Now he also loves the kitchen and is passing his love of cooking on to his children. Again, cooking is all about family!
Why is it so important to have the right ingredients?
Having the right ingredients is essential, and sometimes even the most harmless-seeming “substitute” can botch your recipe. Having ALL the proper ingredients is so important. I’m guilty myself of trying to cut corners... I've had my husband say, “Honey, would you mind not making that again?” I’ll smile since I was already thinking about throwing the rest in the trash. A trip to the store for any forgotten or essential ingredient is always worth it. When I moved to my home that is one of the two things I knew I had to be close to...the post office and the grocery store. The best ingredients make the recipe.
How did you learn about grass-fed meat?
I learned about grass-fed meats from a book a friend suggested I read. It taught me the differences in grass-fed and grain-fed, and that’s all it took! I realized if I wanted to restore myself to that energy level and vigor of my twenties that was going to start with changing my diet. U.S. Wellness Meats is the best decision I’ve ever made for my body! The quality is unsurpassed, leanness, even the appearance of the meat. I had a cut of store ground meat when my package from USWM arrived, and I put them next to each other on the counter... Long story short, I gave the store bought to my neighbor!
Why is eating grass-fed meat different? How does it affect your cooking? Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?
Eating Grass-fed meat is extraordinarily different for many reasons: Its flavor and quality can’t be compared. The leanness makes it a joy to prepare—there’s no cooking away of burgers. Even better, I know that when I’m finished that we’ll be eating a meal that is delicious and nutritious, and helping to improve my overall health (which we all strive for!). With the things one sees in the news about food these days, it tends to make one worry...but not me. I know that anything I get from U.S. Wellness is safe for my family—and that combination of health, quality and safety will keep me a long-time customer!
What are the most important keys to success for the home chef?
The key to success for the home chef involves a variety of things—like a puzzle you must have all the right pieces. First and foremost, you need the freshest ingredients, then look for the right utensils and cooking tools and, of course, find a recipe will be both flavorful and appealing to the eye! Give yourself time to prepare, and do any prep work for a complex recipe the day before. Always season your meat and let it rest to absorb the spices. I always let my meat warm up some before I start preparing it. U.S. Wellness Meat is leaner so watch out for sticking—spray your grill with cooking spray. Fast food doesn’t come from my kitchen! If you want to make it good...make time!!
What is the most helpful tip that you can pass on to fellow home cooks?
The most helpful tip that comes to mind is: If you have to spend a little more, get the FRESHEST ingredients you can. Or grow them yourself—every year I look forward to using fresh fruits and veggies from my garden. If you can grow it, go for it. Even if you don’t have a yard or lots of outdoor space, five-gallon buckets make great planters for vegetables. You will so enjoy the freshness. Finally, if cooking for the family is getting dull, imagine you are cooking for a celebrity... I find a little glamour goes a long way!
What is your favorite recipe (using a grass-fed meat)? What would you prepare with it for the perfect meal?
What advice do you have for families in the kitchen? And for encouraging everyone in the family to eat the same meal?
My advice for the families is to try it give the little ones something to do to include them in the preparation of the meal. That can be anything from slicing the butter pats to getting the sliced bread ready. Usually if they’ve helped they’ll want to eat it too! Also, sitting down as a family can help keep everyone connected. We used to tell about our day in a funny voice, and it would make my parents laugh and suddenly everyone in the family was involved. Sometimes we would be laughing so hard we couldn’t eat! Try to keep the family meals going...the family that EATS together is a TEAM!