An addiction to Top Chef ignited the initial flame for me to get in the kitchen. I would tune in every Thursday night to watch chefs from all over the US compete with one another in hopes of producing the best dish. Their food would subsequently be judged by experts in the food industry who took their jobs very seriously. Despite time constraints and various curveballs thrown their way, the outcome usually looked amazing. However, some would eventually crack under the pressure resulting in major mishaps and meltdowns. All of the emotion and drama involved was just too delicious! I vowed to start my own little competition right then and there between myself and inexperience.
My first attempts were dishes that I enjoyed eating growing up. I began with lasagna, which is one of my favorite meals. I thought it turned out well but I could also hear Padma’s voice inside my head saying “it’s pedestrian at best.”🙄💭😉 I made a decent hamburger casserole after my grandma recited the instructions to me over the phone. It needed a little something, so I started adding cheese to bring it on home. Lots and lots of cheese. In fact, I had to rename it Cheeseburger Casserole! 🍔🥣
After a few minor successes, I felt ready to cook out of my comfort zone. I found a recipe in a magazine for stuffed bell peppers that looked challenging. There were multiple steps involved such as frying ground beef, boiling rice, chopping and sautéing veggies, simmering the mixture in tomato sauce, stuffing the peppers, topping them with cheese and then finally baking. They were ultimately a hit, however my kitchen looked like a bomb had exploded in there.💣 I used every single pot, pan and spoon that I owned because I didn’t yet know how to multipurpose with equipment. My back was so sore from hours of standing in the kitchen prepping, dicing and stressing. So was it worth all of the time and pain? Absoforkingloutely! 🤪🍴
The first cooking fail that I remember having was trying to make custard pie. The recipe called to bake the dish in a water bath. I had no idea what this entailed so I opted out of bath time and baked it right on the rack. Mind you, this was before the internet capability that we know and love today, so I couldn’t just whip out my cell phone for some google assurance. 📲👍 In essence, my scrambled egg pie ended up in the trash!🥧🗑 With the next fail, I tried to be too fancy for my britches and made pecan crusted tenderloin. (Top Chef was giving me false confidence). I ended up with burnt pecan on the outside, raw on the inside pork medallions! I refer to my early style of cooking as learning by burning! 🔥🥵
After this trial by fire, I decided to return to more familiar flavor profiles. I made a chicken casserole with Ritz crackers that was good but a bit on the bland side. I seriously needed to step up my seasoning game.🧂 My twice baked potato experiment turned out tasty but didn’t have the crispy potato skin effect that I was going for. I learned how to fix this problem sometime later by following Ree Drummond’s method and never looked back. I discovered this culinary icon one lazy Saturday morning on the Food Network. Soon after, watching The Pioneer Woman, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen and The Kitchen became my new ritual to start the weekend. 📺 ☕️
Ree has such a calming effect on me. Am I allowed to call her that? Her recipes feel accessible and within my culinary wheelhouse. I admire her brand of cooking for both her family and community out on the farm. I also adore her aura in the kitchen complete with those colorful peasant blouses. I wonder where she buys those? 🤔 Maybe she should start her own fashion line.💡I received one of her cookbooks for Christmas last year and found that her recipes are actually entertaining to read. I appreciated her even more after discovering her foodie humor and wit in print in addition to the screen. 😂📖😋
Trisha is also hilarious. See how we’re all on a first name basis? She’s a rock star on the stage and in the kitchen.🎙👩🍳🎸It’s just not fair for one person to be so talented. She cooks southern style food that feels like home. I enjoy hearing her sentimental stories about which family member’s recipe she’s using and how it ties the meal together. She also features guests that happily stir and chop while she cracks the jokes and mixes the cocktails.🤣 I would love to hang out sometime. Girl, call me! 📞🥘🍹
The crew from The Kitchen have a fun, collaborative banter going on. The hosts take turns making yummy food and drinks. They riff opinions and ideas off one another like members of a well established jazz band. GZ provides the sophisticated palate, Jeff the comic relief, Katie the cool kitchen hacks and Sunny the cooking with my bestie vibe. When Marcela’s on there, she brings the spice! I especially love watching them around the holidays to get into a festive mood and perhaps even learn a new trick or too. 🥑🍸🍁🍗🌲🥘🇺🇸💥🍦
I’m also a fan of The Great Food Truck Race.🚐🏆 It’s another competition show but with regular folks trying to expand their niche approach or family recipes into a business. I love the clever team names that they come up with and associated artwork plastered on the truck and matching car. This show had me thinking that I could actually run a food truck one day but after a few googles I said, nah! It would take a whole lot of moolah just to get started and then there’s the long hours hustling food out of the window to maybe turn a profit.💰😓 I also live in the country vs. a big city which poses another roadblock.🚧 Plus, I can’t even change a tire much less maintain a restaurant on wheels! 🚐⚒🤷♀️
This post is my thanks to all of the judges, hosts, contestants, cooks, chefs, producers and crews of these awesome cooking shows for providing entertainment as well as the motivation for me to put on an apron. There are countless other food programs that I love to watch and learn from but I would have to write a novel to fit them all in. Special shoutouts though to Barefoot Contessa🍋🥗, Farmhouse Rules🌿👩🌾, Down Home with the Neelys💔, Dinner at Tiffani’s🍾🍽, Southern at Heart🍠😍, both Paula and Valerie’s Home Cooking🥓🍝, Restaurant: Impossible💪🧯, Ayesha’s Homemade🏠🍲and The Great British Baking Show🍞🥮. Who are some of your favorite foodie rock stars?🤘💜🍴
Mood Ring Kitchen
I’m a self teaching home cook and aspiring foodie entrepreneur. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to prepare flavorful food such as snacks, desserts and everything in between. Cooking is a way for me to challenge myself and satisfy curiosities about different ingredients.
The hope is to produce something thoughtful, memorable or every once in a while maybe even wonderful. I enjoy following my “gut” and exploring new recipes that can be comforting, exciting and nourishing. Above all else, I enjoy exploring the emotions surrounding food and writing about those experiences. 😝👩🍳👩💻