The kitchen is truly the heart of the house. Many of my best memories are with me and my loved ones gathered around the kitchen table. So I'd like to bring back the tradition of sitting and cooking at home with friends and family to eat and talk. It doesn't matter whether you're alone almost everyday or living with roommates, sitting down to enjoy food really gives you respect for both food, family and your health. It's creative, it's spiritually and physically nourishing, and it's a lot of fun. Hopefully, with these recipes I can help make it a little simpler and easier, too.

 

I've always loved cooking. As a child, I always hung around the kitchen whether it's with our maids in the "dirty kitchen" preparing meals for lunch or dinner, with my mom as she cooked and baked using her special party recipes, with my dad for his inimitable "midnight snacks" or with one of aunts preparing their family version of various daily or more festive dishes.



I've learned a lot from watching. My family loves food; but more importantly, gathering around the table is an integral part of the social fabric. We sat down to eat and talk. In retrospect, serving delicious food was an insurance that the dinner would be pleasant. Serve something that someone doesn't like and, well, the mood would be drastically different.



Also, it is hardly applicable these days, but when I was growing up, the food that was served was dependent on what was sold in the fresh market that day. Whatever fish was hauled in by the fishermen, whatever meat was delivered by the butcher, whatever vegetables and fruit were in season -- those dictated what you ate that day.  If food was in abundance and there was much variety, perhaps you get to shop for a few days and store it in the refrigerator. If not, you might have to go to market again the next morning. And since repeating the same dish during the week was not something we particularly enjoyed (yes, we were pampered), whoever was cooking had to come up with an instant menu based on the day's ingredients.  You can say, it was a daily cook's version of CHOPPED.



Grocery stores and wholesale stores are the norm these days. They are certainly convenient and makes stocking the pantry easy. But for vegetables, fish and meat, I still enjoy shopping at a farmer's market, a fish market, spice market or going to a butcher.  I love the interaction with the vendors who know their product. I love the way you get to build relationships with them. By getting to know you, they are able to suggest things, either method or ingredient wise, that really make your food shine.



I know very few of us have the time these days to really cook great meals. Certainly food shopping can be expensive as well. So I decided to come up with a section that will showcase recipes for everyday living, using ingredients that are more or less easily available, that are both exotic and classic, and just downright good.



 

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Everyday Cooking for the
Ordinary Cook

by Loy Carlos

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