Monday, December 13, 2010

Why do YOU cook, Aleta Watson?

Aleta Watson
San Jose Mercury News readers will surely recognize the name Aleta Watson. Aleta is an award-winning reporter and restaurant reviewer who was on staff there for quite a while.

I'm always curious about what restaurant reviewers choose to cook at home. Thankfully Aleta has a gorgeous blog, Skillet Chronicles, that satisfies my curiosity while inspiring my own creativity. It turns out Aleta cooks the way I do and the same things that appeal to her generally appeal to me too. She is also a proponent of the joy one finds in the kitchen! Can I get an "amen"? If you enjoy my blog, I'm confident you will enjoy discovering hers too.

"The salty tang of preserved lemon in a chicken tagine. The deep savor of slow-cooked cassoulet. The sweet satisfaction of Sicilian cookies stuffed with ground figs and nuts. I cook because I’m a curious eater. I love to taste new foods, explore unfamiliar cooking techniques and share my finds.

When I was growing up, our family meals leaned heavily toward red meat, potatoes and frozen vegetables. Although my mother was a good cook, she stuck with what she knew. Not until I left home did I realize what a wide range of flavors the world had to offer.

A friend introduced me to Chinese food, Indian curries and “Joy of Cooking” and a lifelong love affair with pots and pans began. I reveled in the challenge and creativity of working with my hands in the kitchen after days toiling as a reporter and editor in Bay Area newsrooms. Trying out new recipes and feeding the results to family and friends became one of my favorite pastimes.

Even when I worked as a restaurant critic, I generally preferred cooking to eating out. The food served at most restaurants not only was disappointing but laden with salt and fat. My family ate better when we shopped for and prepared our own meals. We knew where our ingredients came from and the food was fresher, better tasting and more nutritious.

Now, I’m on a mission to help more people discover the pleasures of cooking for themselves and their families, using local ingredients in season. Everyone knows it’s good for the wallet, better for the body, and a boon for the planet. But too few people seem to realize how much fun it can be."