Long before there were these hungry mouths to feed, I worked in New York on the lowest rungs of the editorial ladder at New Woman, Parenting and BabyTalk magazines. After a move to San Francisco, I was a producer at Women.com and a freelance food and travel writer for CitySearch.com, Sunset, Cooking Light, Robb Report and Parenting Travel. After the dot.com bust, I ran, severance check in hand, to enroll in the professional culinary program at Tante Marie’s Cooking School, followed by a return to magazines working for the food editor of 7×7 magazine in San Francisco.
In 2005, we sold our Pacific Heights flat, packed up our 20-month-old baby girl and moved to the foreign, far away land of Houston, Texas. I freelanced as a contributing editor and food writer for Houston magazine and taught cooking classes out of our home, which was merely a sly way to invite potential friends to the table. The rest, as they say, is history. I continue to teach cooking classes out of our home and for Central Market; besides that, I’m in charge of feeding four other hungry humans besides myself every single day.
What I strive to share with my cooking students is that it can be simple to put dinner on the table and share a family meal. In my classes, the majority of those students tend to be over-committed, stressed, over-worked moms wearing about a million hats at a time. I want to help these friends and strangers ease their load. Dinner doesn’t need to be complicated or overly wrought. With a little planning on the weekend (you can spare 20 minutes for the sake of your sanity, right?) you can write a meal plan and shop once for the week ahead.
Granted, I didn’t always operate like this. Even after graduating from cooking school and working as an instructor, food writer and recipe developer, when my three kiddos were all under four I was operating on fumes (in the kitchen and everywhere else). We had our share of spaghetti and jarred Rao’s marinara (still our go-to “fast food” dinner) and fried egg sandwiches (my comfort food, my husband’s not so much). We were surviving.
But now, our family is in the sweet spot of childhood and parenthood – somewhere between potty training and driver’s ed. They can swim, tie their shoes and read a book. A real trifecta (for me, for my husband and for them). We’ve become more civilized in our routine, and sitting down to family meals isn’t a workout, it’s a privilege. It’s a refuge for each of us, a pause from work, electronics, google drive homework documents, sports practices and carpools. Our life is just as messy and chaotic as the next, but family dinner makes our sweet spot just a little bit sweeter.
I’d love to hear from you. For freelance writing or recipe development inquiries, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.