Let's Cook Lightly!

It is said that great cooks run in the family and skills, like heirlooms, are passed from generation to generation. I come from a family of extraordinary cooks, but I am not a great cook. In fact, I am not a cook at all. So I have decided to seek out family, friends, and kind strangers to turn this non-cook into a great cook.

Back in the day, my grandparents ran a cafe famous locally for thick juicy burgers and hand cut french fries. My own Mum, Linda, observed and learned the tricks of the trade from the vantage point of a self-designated cafe counter stool, and of course grew up intuitively knowing just the right ingredients to add or subtract from any meal. The same is true for my Aunt Joyce. I can't remember a time when dinner at my Aunt's house was anything other than a feast, the kind you expect at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Even my Uncle David and cousins-Richard, Jimmy, and Ricky-can serve up a fine holiday turkey.

I grew up loving the idea of food, collecting recipes in a faux filigree tin with the full intention of being the perfect housewife and mother. I turned out to be a single career girl with no children and a strong desire to avoid butter, fat, and white bread. The desire to be thin and healthy took away my love of food, and I eventually lost all interest in cooking. The kitchen became the least visited room in my house.

This year's office party is fast approaching, and I will be making a dish under the watchful eye of a pro (Mum). Previously, I would sign up for paper goods or pop, that is soda for those of you not from the south. Occasionally I would buy a bean salad or fruit tray from the local deli and then switch it over to my own sparkling crystal dishes. It didn't fool anyone.

In the last year, I have begun to accept that I don't have to be perfect in order to enjoy life or to enjoy food.  I've regained interest in trying recipes that are delectable and healthy. I no longer accept that the two are mutually exclusive. Cooking is a privilege, and food is a blessing meant to be shared in the company of family and friends.

Go grab your pots and pans, and let's cook lightly!