I basically grew up in the kitchen. Some of my best memories are of watching my grandmother cook or standing on a chair by the stove to stir the pot while my pops and I made dinner. When I went vegetarian as a teen and then vegan in my 20s, it felt like I needed that kind of guidance once again. Since there weren’t any family members with meat-free cooking knowledge, I had to find some additional cooking heroes.
So many of you are amazing cooks, and I bet that you have folks in your lives that were essential to developing your love for the kitchen. I’d love to hear about them! Here are the folks who helped me along in my cooking adventures.
Like I mentioned above, my pops and my grandmother were definitely my first kitchen-related influences. Cooking was what my grandmother did. She whipped up all sorts of traditional Jewish meals, and she made it fun. She’s also the one that taught me one of the most valuable things I know about cooking: you should clean while you cook, not afterward. Then, you can sit down and enjoy the meal without fretting about a sink full of dishes.
I’ll be honest here: pops got me cooking with a simple house rule. Whoever cooks doesn’t have to do the dishes. Parents, if you’re wondering how to get your kids interested in cooking, I highly recommend this tactic! My sister and I would fight over who got to make dinner each night. Seriously.
Once he got us cooking, we were both hooked. Pops is great at improvising a meal, and I learned how to make dinner with what’s on hand by watching him.
When I stopped eating meat, I picked up a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook, and I’m so glad that I did! The way that author Molly Katzen talks about food and recipes is empowering. Her recipes are often simple and always incredibly flexible. Those things definitely helped me learn to improvise vegetarian meals in a way that might not have happened with a different cookbook as a guide.
Eating vegan was a whole different story. Veganism can be tricky, and I’m eternally grateful that I ran across Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s amazing cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen, and her first book, Vegan with a Vengeance. Her recipes showed me that I could cut cruelty out of my diet and still eat deliciously. I rely pretty heavily on her cupcake book, too. It’s amazing!
The last cookbook author that made a big difference in my cooking life was Jennifer McCann and her book The Vegan Lunchbox. At the time, I was still going to a 9-6 day job, and her book showed me the power of bento. There’s nothing like an infusion of cuteness to make cooking fun! Her recipes are easy, delicious, and kid-friendly.
So spill it, guys! Who are your cooking heroes? Was there someone who taught you to love the kitchen?