Stage Two was a great place to learn and explore my options for gluten-free and dairy-free cooking. I became more obsessed with learning everything I could about cooking and when TopChef announced their online cooking academy, I was all in without a thought.
I devoured the courses and learned knife skills, how to cook proteins, and so much more. I knew I still had a long way to go and the learning would probably never end, but I was on a path to a tastier, healthy lifestyle, and that was all that mattered.
My biggest challenge at the time was to please my then-husband every night for dinner. He had a very small list of foods he liked and was not very forthcoming with praise or direction when I asked him what he liked or disliked about a dish. I was so afraid to fail and not have “dinner on the table,” and I just wanted to make my family happy. I continued to cook and learn and my dishes were greatly improving.
But, there was one aspect of cooking that I could not figure out on my own: how to put flavors together and create my own dishes without recipes. I was watching so many chefs on TV making dishes out of their heads and I wanted entry into that club. I bought some advanced books about food, cooking, and flavors, hoping to find the “secret” to that superpower. I learned a ton but never discovered the secret.
It was not until a year or so later, when I was in the middle of my divorce, that I found the path to flavors and a whole new way of cooking. That happened when I met Rich.
Each was going through a divorce, actually, and when we met, we clicked immediately. We both loved to cook and he was much more advanced than I was, although he did not think so. He did not have any food restrictions like I did and loved the challenge of making his favorite dishes gluten and dairy-free.
When we started cooking together, I was amazed at what a difference cooking with another knowledgeable cook could be. And, most importantly, he encouraged me to fail so I would learn more and gave me a safe, non-judgmental space to do just that. When I didn’t fear failure, I grew as a cook. And in that process, I learned that I knew so much more than I thought I did. When I gave up my need to create a perfect dish every time, my creativity flowed, techniques and knowledge I did not know I possessed came to me, and I created delicious meals. Yes, I failed, and I loved failing. With every failure came knowledge and helped me become the cook I am today.
Now, nine years later, we’ve had quite the food journey (read more about it here) and I would not change a thing. Now we cook nearly everything we make and never feel like we are living a “less than” food life. The goal was always to create dishes that are just as good, if not better, than their glutenous and dairyful counterparts.
If we are craving a dish we have never made before, we seek out 3-4 recipes online, compare and contrast, and then start to make that recipe our own. We regularly find recipes, make them, and then decide what we would do differently next time if anything. We love to cook and love the process of learning new dishes, techniques, and flavors.
Our journey is not your journey, and everyone will take their own route. If you have the desire to take control of your gluten-free, dairy-free food life, and into the sustainable, life-long Stage Three, you just need to get into the kitchen and start failing!
In my next post, I will break down the steps that may help you evolve through the three stages.
discover. cook. enjoy.