In 2009 I found myself on a cookbook committee for the Junior League of San Francisco. This assignment changed my life. I discovered so much about myself during this process. Testing these recipes meant that I had no choice, but to grow and leave my comfort zone in the kitchen. I had to make soufflé for the first time. It was scary, but it turned out great and now I will take on any soufflé any day. I was learning to cook with ingredients I had been too afraid to try before. I was cooking with techniques I had never attempted. The first time I made stuffed artichokes, they were completely undercooked and awful. Thankfully, the friend who was over that night, was just so happy to have a free meal, she didn’t care that one of the dishes tanked. There was plenty of other food on the table and that food was fantastic.
Prior to my involvement with the cookbook committee, I had stopped cooking with any regularity. I had been living alone for about 3 years and it was depressing to me to cook for only myself. I missed cooking for my roommate, or even more, I missed when I was cooking for 10 people while in graduate school. We collected over 500 recipes from Junior League members, friends, family and professional chefs. When all was said and done, I think I tested over 200 recipes. Making all those recipes for the cookbook meant I was having dinner parties right and left. I was cooking practically every night and I was loving it.
When the recipe testing stopped, I didn’t want to stop cooking. I had regained my joy of being in the kitchen and I realized that taking the time to make food for myself that tastes great and looks pretty was a lot of fun. More importantly, putting in that effort to make food like that for just myself was a way to remind myself that I was worth it. I had no qualms about spending hours in the kitchen, creating these lavish meals for my friends. But I never thought I deserved that kind of time and effort. Now I can be found in my kitchen almost daily. Sometimes I am whipping up something quick and sometimes it’s a four-hour meal. Either way, the food I am making for myself is pretty and flavorful. For the most part anyway – every once in a while there is a dish that doesn’t look right or tastes a little boring. The most important thing for me is spending that kind of time on me as part of my healing process. It is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.
With the advent and popularity of Twitter I was able to be connected to the “foodie” world and to follow some of my food heroes. I also started to post about what I was doing. As I was searching for a Twitter handle, I finally landed on Fab Food Lover; partly because I love fabulous food, but partly because I was fabulous – or at least I was learning to be that way.