5 months pregnant. walking on the treadmill. watching cooking shows on the overhead TV. And becoming thoroughly annoyed.

Why do most cooking shows have all their ingredients perfectly measured in clear glass bowls?? Okay, it makes it easier and people want to watch something aesthetically pleasing... I get that. But let's be honest, that's just not reality. At least it's not my reality. When I cook my kitchen looks something like this:

Much of the time I'm half reading the recipe, holding a baby who screeches like a dinosaur (it's a fun stage), making a mistake, practically ruining a dish and then somehow salvaging it at the end. The reason why I know how to make a beautiful meal in the midst of this chaos? My dad.

When I was little, it was one of his missions in life to teach me how to prepare good food...food that brought people together. On any given weekend, our home seemed to have music playing, drinks flowing and people gathered around our kitchen table. He showed me what it looked like to be creative in the kitchen. To let your heart guide that creativity, and let your taste buds do the real work. It was inspiring.

I loved going to the store with my dad and eagerly wanted to help him. I have to admit though, at a young age, my interest in cooking was lacking. I'm not really sure why.... Okay, maybe because I was a kid and had no real need to know all the things he was teaching me. But I watched. I absorbed. 

Fast forward 10 or so years, and I am graduating college, really starting to develop an interest in cooking. Of course, I lived in a sorority house all throughout college and then lived out of a suitcase for a year post-college, so culinary arts wasn't the top priority at the time. But the desire was there. It was growing and gathering up fuel for a time when it could be fully expressed. When I finally moved into my own place, I was single, yet already planning my meals for the week, making menus, and coming up with a system to streamline my grocery shopping. It was only recently that I realized this isn't normal. I hosted college girls in my home and baked large amounts of cupcakes for events. It was all so familiar because all of the sudden, those memories started coming back.
"Naty, squeeze a tomato gently to see if it's ripe."
"Always season a little bit at a time, tasting along the way."
"This bagel is so fresh, you can only get it this way here..."

It was like my dad was living through me as I expressed myself in the kitchen. I didn't even have to think about what I was doing, it was second nature. 

When I got married I started reading cookbooks and food blogs more often. I was finding that a lot of the things that were being taught to beginners were skills I had already been practicing for years. Things like which tools to stock your kitchen with (wedding registry fulfilled--check), how to slice an onion, how to know when pasta was "al-dente," etc. I felt oddly affirmed in my culinary knowledge, yet knew I wanted to constantly be learning more. This need to learn and be inspired by new and challenging recipes has only grown. It was then that I realized it was possible to help others learn how they could cook for themselves. Just like my dad taught me, by living out his love for cooking in front of me every night as he prepared delicious meals that would reel in the masses. 

I hope to share some of his recipes and some of my own as I slowly begin to create them. I hope to tell the stories that go along with each dish, because in my life memories have been made around the kitchen table. I hope to carry on this legacy: that cooking should be fun. It should be an extension of your imagination. There are no wrong answers. 

Joining in with And Babies Don't Keep Storyteller's Link Up (I'm fashionably late to the party ;))

"Legacy" is part of a blog relaunch series entitled "31 Days of Responding to Him" 
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