Your site is such a good resource. What are some of your favorite resources for recipes and ideas? Where do you go when you need inspiration?
First and foremost, The Flavor Bible. I love it. There are some recipes in there, but mostly, it’s good for opening your refrigerator and it kind of just gets the creative juices flowing. It’s not telling you “make it like this,” it’s telling you “this goes with this.” It really is a great resource.
I also get ideas from magazines and restaurants. Like, I’ll be eating in a restaurant and “This would be really good if…” And then I just play around with it. But you know, I’m not a chef. I’ve been around a lot of chefs and I so admire their craft. I don’t have their skills–but I can still get into the kitchen and make beautiful dishes.
When did you realize that? Like “Wow, I’m not that bad at this”?
I think it’s been an ongoing process my whole life. At a young age I felt that way, but then I would get a little too big for my britches. But then I would be brought down by something going wrong. I’d be 10 years old, standing on a chair, fanning the smoke from the fire alarm with a dish towel. So, you know, I’ve had this feeling in and out my whole life, and then I’d think “Oh no, maybe I can’t cook.” And then I’d throw a dinner party and it would go great, and I’d get my confidence back.
Even someone who has a lot of experience can feel hopeless in the kitchen. If you’re feeling hopeless, don’t let that deter you. Get in there, have fun, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes.
You know, I have a saying on my website that says, if you’re having a dinner party and you burn something, just throw it in the trash and start over. Don’t let it deter you. Don’t let it throw off the evening.
How do you make time for cooking, when you’ve got such a busy schedule?
I think it’s hard. I read at some point a story from Martha Stewart’s daughter, who said that, here she was making all of these amazing things for the magazine and on TV, but her refrigerator was always empty. And I always keep that in the back of my head–my priority has to be my family.
That being said, there are days where I’ve been cooking all day for the website, and taking pictures, and the last thing I want to do is cook for dinner. So we’ll go have a nice meal out on those days. But I do think it’s really hard.
I’ve done both sides of it–I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve had a career. Being a news anchor is a really taxing job, and you’re so invested in it. I’d come home and be writing stories until midnight or one o’clock in the morning. So I’ve seen both sides of it–and part of me knows that being a stay-at-home mom is harder than having a career.
But I think that now, I’m so incredibly fortunate that I am in a situation where I can stay at home with my daughter. I work from home, and she comes with me. She’s even been in a lot of cooking segments with me.
Yeah, you can see her on my website. She’s all over it. She’s my little sidekick. I have stations that actually request her to be on with me. She’s eight years old, she’s been in the kitchen with me since she was little, and we just have a blast together. I can see the world through her eyes a lot of the time, and I remember how magical the kitchen was at that age. So I try to let her do things without getting hurt.
But getting back to your original question, it’s really hard. I wanted a place like this to make it easier, and so I just created it. Nothing on my website is too difficult–but I do preface it, if something is a little time-consuming, I make a note of it. But for the most part, everything on the site is simple, which makes it a lot easier to balance your time. You just find those moments, and find what works for you.
It’s very comforting to be able to go to your site and see things so approachable and clearly explained. What do you recommend for someone who, like me, may want to try cooking more things at home, but feels like they just don’t know what they’re doing or are afraid of failure?
Just know that the worst that could happen is you’ll make a mistake, and then you’ll start over. My worst disasters are not that bad. That’s it. I just try to remember that I’m cooking to have a good time, to spend time with friends and family. If that’s what happens, it was a success.
You know, I’ve added too much salt and made things inedible. In my earlier baking years, I’d test out baking things. One time, I tripled the amount of baking soda–and that flavor is really tough. You can never really cover that up. Early on, I learned that baking is a science, so I learned not to experiment too much with those elements. You have to keep the balance.
But with cooking, there’s a lot more room for error, and there are ways to fix your mistakes. Or, if you can’t, you go out and eat. Whenever I ruin a meal, we go to a place that has really good ribs and barbecue, so we just go there. Sometimes, I’ll be in there trying to fix a mistake, and then we just decide to toss the whole thing and go have a nice dinner together. And you know what? That’s fine.