An Unlikely Romance- How I Met My Mistress

In college, I lived off skipping meals and beer. A diet that suited my wallet and had no effect on my waistline.  However, at 25 years old, I was a newlywed, blissfully married and neither my husband nor I could cook.  My husband refused to believe that beer was a perfectly acceptable calorie replacement for food (stubborn male), and I reluctantly began to notice my metabolism was catching up to me. (Who knew beer was filled with empty calories?)

As he was in Arabic training for 8 hours a day with hours of schoolwork each night, the mission of learning to cook fell on me.  I had absolutely no desire to learn how to cook, but my desire to not gain 100 pounds from crappy eating habits was much greater.  Thus began my reluctant cooking trials.  

Our smoke alarm went off so often that we joked it was our “dinner is ready bell,” and we kept a broomstick near the door to prop it open to air out all the smoke. Nearly 8 years later, I can still recite the local pizza delivery service by heart.  But, I was stubborn, conceding that I may never be a “good” cook, but that cooking somewhat edible food had to be in my reach.

Then, lo and behold, the smoke began to fade, our broom was used for its originally intended purpose and I graduated from serving edible food (I consider ordering pizza as serving)  to being a “good” cook.  Exotic recipes, new ingredients, exploring foods, pairing wines, reading cookbooks-  I was madly, deeply, hopelessly in love.  I started using words like “al dente” “braising”  “roux”.  “Mise en place” became a way of life.

25 years old, newly married and I fell in love with someone new; my husband was not at all jealous of my mistress and insisted on giving us time to ourselves.

I did not lose all my old college habits; but, I did upgrade from beer-I often occasionally replace wine with food as an acceptable form of calorie swapping.  Old habits die hard.  And wine is delicious.

Photos from My Humble Beginnings (from many years ago, before I had a “real” camera or cared much about taking pictures)

My First Success- Mussels in a Spicy Marinara- Still A Favorite- Will Share Recipe Soon!

First Time Cooking Live Crab- Delicious!! (and scary and I was a bit sad)

My 1st Thanksgiving Turkey- so many reasons to be embarrassed here- mismatching plates, paper towel napkins, lol
I was reading tons of magazines and thought Id try to be “artsy” with my caprese, lol (so terrible!)

My First Gnocchi- which was a pain to make & we do not eat carbs, so it is the ONLY time I made it, glad I got  a pic!

Most people I know who enjoy cooking have loved cooking since they were a child, anyone like me begin later in life?
What started YOUR love of cooking? Tell me in the comments!

Linked to Finding The Funny– a great collection of funny posts!

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  1. Gia

    June 26th, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Whoa, those are some fancy food pics! Fancy to me – I use the microwave more often than not…:P

  2. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Thank you Gia! I now wish I took pictures of the disasters I had before I caught on to cooking, would be so great to look at. A chicken was in flames once!

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  4. Delilah Love

    June 26th, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Dang, I'm hungry now. I'm a reluctant cook. I cook because we have 5 kids and it's too expensive to eat out. Otherwise, I wouldn't do it. Maybe one day when i have time and don't have a toddler on one hip I will learn to enjoy it. I hope so. I sure like to eat. Haha!

  5. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Thank you Delilah! I do dislike the everyday, mundane cooking and I am sure I will dislike the necessity of it as my child gets older.

  6. carrie

    June 26th, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Oh my mouth is watering. Maybe one day I'll cook like that…I doubt it…but my husband has great potential. I love his cooking! SOOO good!

  7. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Aww, thank you Carrie!! As long as one of you can cook, you are fine!

  8. Joe

    June 26th, 2012 at 5:33 am

    See what you've done, now I have raid the refrigerator. Cooking is a necessary evil; it's eating that I enjoy.

  9. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:30 am

    LOL, sorry!

  10. Jackie Russell

    June 26th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    You`re a pretty excellent cook. I think it runs in the family, but yours of course without dog hair on the spoon or fork šŸ˜‰ (inside Joke)

  11. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Thank you Scott =) Come visit me and I will cook anything you like! No dog hair!

  12. Katherine Kramer

    June 26th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I was like you-I hated cooking when I was younger and wasn't good at it. I never had a good example growing up and my ex was always criticizing my efforts. I found Food Network (before it was all reality competitions and still had real chefs on it), and that's when I became interested. My interest grew when I discovered America's Test Kitchen and found that my cooking efforts were greatly appreciated.

  13. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I am glad you kept trying then Katherine, it is awesome when everything kind of just clicks and you have fun with it!

  14. Jacqueline Bryant Campbell

    June 26th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I grew up with good cooks. I enjoyed planning menus and shopping for great ingredients. And then I got married and had kids. All of that went out the window. My goal now is to cook things that 3 out of 4 people in my house will eat. If the kids like it, husband might not (the kids are more adventurous). If the husband likes it, daughter might not. Son will eat almost anything. I'm down to spaghetti, chili, roasted chicken, with some wild cards thrown in there for variety. When the kids are away in the summer at my mother's, I don't cook at all and it's fabulous.

  15. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I only have a one year old so far, and my days of cooking for three hours, listening to music and sipping wine have disappeared. I hope the mundane of cooking everyday does not get to me too much, but I find cooking relaxing and a creative outlet, so hopefully it stays!

  16. christie tate

    June 26th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Yummy! Can I please have this happen to me? I am 38 and only married 3.5 years, but I want to learn to do what you do with food! I love it. And what the hell is a roux? Go you. Looks delicious.

  17. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:39 am

    HI Christie! LOL, I burned lots of food before I could get to any decent point! Thank you so much for commenting! A roux is flour and a fat (BUTTER) used to thicken soups, sauces, etc. (I know you were not REALLY asking, but I had to answer…)

  18. Travis Sloat

    June 26th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I have loved to cook ever since I started watching the Food Network. I can match my wife tit for tat in the kitchen in everything except deep frying. My wife can deep fry this blog and make it taste good. Seriously.

  19. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Hi Travis! LOL, well it is great to have two cooks in the house!

  20. Dawn Beronilla

    June 26th, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I have always been the cook in the family, and I definitely started young. I was 12-13 when I would get supper ready after school before my Mom got home from work. That's how I started.

    I think your pictures are great, and don't ever be embarrassed about your pictures. Mismatched plates and paper towel napkins are adorable, and especially so if they are from a while ago. (And the turkey looks great!)
    I'm actually relieved that my husband has seafood allergies for the reason that cooking live food makes me sad too.
    Great post!

  21. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:42 am

    HI Dawn! Thank you for commenting! LOL, I am not truly embarrassed over my photos, it is "cute" to see how far I have come. I have perfected turkey making now!

  22. Kenja Purkey

    June 26th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I love to cook, but hate to do it to a deadline (you know, like dinner time). And I'm more of a Rachel Ray cheating type cook, rather than a made from scratch foodie type cook like you. Wow, that looked wonderful!

  23. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Hi Kenja! My daily cooking is not from scratch, haha, my one year old prevents that! Thank you so much for the compliment, cooking is my passion and it means a lot for me to hear that!

  24. doseofreality

    June 26th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    YUM! Now I am hungry! šŸ™‚

  25. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:44 am

    That is a GREAT compliment, thank you!

  26. Rhonda

    June 26th, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Well, I'm Southern. It's practically second nature!

  27. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I lived in Georgia for a year, yes, Southerners sure like to eat!

  28. Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool

    June 27th, 2012 at 12:19 am

    I've recently started cooking but only out of necessity – I was tired of feeding my family crap. I think I could enjoy it some day, when I'm no longer balancing a toddler on one hip at the stove (dangerous).

  29. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Yep, my husband and I are health nuts with food, so the only option really is to cook. Mine is only one but I can see her fringing on the ability to cook soon!

  30. Michelle Icard

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:03 am

    OK, I definitely thought this was going in a different direction! You've inspired me to cook something good soon. Tonight was nachos – blah.

  31. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Hi Michelle! Thank you!! I hope you end up trying something good!

  32. Christie

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Wow! Good for you! I cooked a lot in my mid-twenties but I've fallen off a bit lately – mostly due to lack of time and two young kids under foot.

  33. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Thank you Christie! Yeah, my cooking grand meals has diminished pretty much completely since having a baby!

  34. Cindy - The Reedster Speaks

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Oh how I wish I could take up cooking as my mistress! I have no patience or skill at all.

  35. Laurel

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:53 am

    That is how I feel about sewing- I royally suck at sewing and took two classes- no patience and no skill at it.
    I think with cooking, you can try recipes and get proficient, but if you do not enjoy it, then that is different.
    Thank you Cindy for commenting!

  36. Aidan Donnelley Rowley

    June 27th, 2012 at 1:59 am

    I am impressed! I really need to fall in love with cooking. We have fallen into the pretty terrible habit of getting takeout every night. We try to be healthy about it, but still. Fun to visit your blog!

  37. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Yeah, it is very hard to eat out and be healthy, but sometimes it is delicious or the best time saver! Thank you for commenting Aidan!


    June 27th, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Um, I have never learned to love to cook. Don't plan on it, either. I cook because I have to, you know, because if I don't, my family and I would die. However, your pretty pictures (almost) make me want to love it.

  39. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:01 am

    LOL, thank you. I admire people that do it everyday cuz they have to, I dont enjoy cleaning but I dont have to do it EVERYDAY!

  40. Dude of The House

    June 27th, 2012 at 7:32 am

    That whole "changing metabolism" thing sucks. Looks like you've more than compensated, however. Those dishes look great.

  41. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Yes, it does suck, and that was my complaint at 25, I could kick myself. Now I am post baby…
    Thank you for commenting!

  42. Melisa @ just begin from here

    June 27th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I am so impressed! I can cook, but I don't do it very often. I plan the meals and the hubs does the cooking. It's a pretty sweet arrangement. I don't eat anything from the sea but those mussels made my mouth water!

  43. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Thank you so much! Mussels have been my favorite food since I was a kid!! I have it in my 2nd grade diary, lol!
    So it was very fitting that it was the first thing I made that I loved!


    June 27th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    cooking, I can pretty much do, given a decent recipe and assuming I have all ingredients/tools. Baking? Baking is a mysterious science that mocks me with it's inconsistencies. If I follow the recipe, it should work, darn it! šŸ™‚ And honey, ain't nothing wrong with mismatched plates or paper towel napkins. I found them endearing.

  45. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I cannot bake for the life of me!! But, I dont eat sweets much so we will live…
    Thank you for commenting =) and I still use paper towel napkins, lol

  46. Erin

    June 28th, 2012 at 1:11 am

    this totally makes me think of Julie and Julia! you go, girl! (only the crabs would elude me. that part of the movie was hard to watch, too–don't know how you did it!!) your Caprese looks wonderful (quit being so self deprecating!) and your gnocchi are making me drool.


  47. Laurel

    June 28th, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Wow, thank you! I have not seen the movie, but yes, cooking live crab did make me sad.
    Thank you so much, Erin!

  48. Tara Pohlkotte

    June 28th, 2012 at 3:38 am

    my husband is the cook in our house for sure. if he wasn't here, either my 4 year old or 6 year old would have to learn fast. i'm not so good.

  49. Laurel

    July 7th, 2012 at 12:55 am

    My husband is not bad when he tries, but since I have the time and now the passion for it, I am primary chef around here. And some days I hate that!

  50. Adrienne

    June 29th, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I really enjoyed this! All of that looks so yummy! So happy that you found a love for cooking. I'm still hoping to hit it off with my mistress…

  51. Laurel

    July 7th, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Thank you Adrienne!! Good luck with hitting it off =)!

  52. Meredith

    July 2nd, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Love this post! Very classy to upgrade to the wine! You so have it going on šŸ™‚

  53. Laurel

    July 7th, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Thank you Meredith! I agree, the wine was a very classy upgrade, even if I add ice cubes to my white wine here and there šŸ˜‰

  54. Kelley

    July 7th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Wow! That is super impressive! He's lucky he gets to eat all of that without a "dinner bell" going off. Mmmm!!

    (Thanks for linking this up with us over at #findingthefunny last week!)

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