For the first five years after I moved to California I survived mostly on ramen, sandwiches and some form of restaurant food (and I use that term loosely, since there were quite a few fast food restaurant meals I consumed).  Every once in a while I would get inspired and make a salad that contained more than lettuce, dressing and croutons.  I hated being in the kitchen and felt like a slave to the stove any time I attempted to cook something.  Nothing turned out quite right – there was too much food, or too little; my timing was off; the taste was off.  In short, something was always off.

When Wes and I started dating he was the chef in our relationship.  He had a grill and could make a mean manicotti dish (way different than what I was used to, but good nonetheless).  I can remember him trying to get me too cook and me just having no interest in it.  My family members are all very good cooks and had tried, on several occasions, to ignite my inner foodie.  It didn’t work and after whatever school break was over I would go back to ramen and sandwiches.

I’m not sure how it all changed, but it finally did.  It was in small steps that I began to enjoy cooking.  A salmon dinner with overcooked asparagus because my timing was always off.  Rice and chicken.  Small things here and there.  Then, shortly after moving to San Francisco and finding a group of friends, I began to not only enjoy cooking, but to seek out new recipes to try.  My mom subscribed me to Cooking Light and I met friends who enjoyed cooking.  I started to stock my kitchen with some basic necessities for cooking.  Cookbooks began to multiple on my shelves (no lie: last year I actually got four cookbooks for Christmas); a friend and I would pour over magazines and recipes and search out things to make.

My inner foodie was officially an outtie.

Then, one by one, friends started to move out of the city (some out of the state) and I was back to cooking for one again, which is hardly fun.  I would have leftovers for days.  Near the end of my stay in the Bay Area I was back to take out food and ramen because it didn’t make sense, financially, to cook all that food for one person. But now that I’m living with my boyfriend it’s so much more fun to cook again.  He’s got a great set of knives and is a great chopper.  Even though onions don’t affect my eyes when I’m wearing contacts, he always chops them.  It’s great to have a partner to help in the kitchen, I only wish it were a little bit bigger (the kitchen, not the partner).

Today I found two websites that I have fallen in love with.  foodgawker and Cheap Eeats.

Foodgawker brings together food and photography and I love it so much.  Even just looking at the pictures is fun for me.  Even better, though, are the recipes that come along with it.  It’s inspiring me to be a little fancier in my presentation.  And it’s really got me wanting to host a dinner party, though I know that’s out of the question in a tiny apartment with no kitchen table.  I can’t wait to search out the delicious recipes and try them.  They’ll be a great addition to my recipe book.

Cheap Eats is a little less fancier, but still a great idea.  It’s exactly what it says it is: Cheap Eats.  How to eat cheaply.  Some of it, according to Porter, is shit, but there’s some gems hidden in there too.

I think tonight, while Wes is at his game, I’ll pour over these websites and make our menu for the rest of the week.  I’ve added the Irvine Farmers’ Market to my calendar and will defintely be there this weekend.  I love the feel of the Farmers’ Markets – plus, it’s way less expensive than a regular grocery store.  It’s been a while since I’ve been, but foodgawker is getting m excited about cooking again.  It’s time to switch up the menu and add osme more recipes.

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