Picture it: Harlem, 2015. I sat down excited and ready to dig into a ‘healthy’ version of chicken Alfredo with a creamy cauliflower sauce that I’d just prepared from an online recipe. One bite and it was clear: this was yet another recipe fail to add to my ever-growing pile. I was officially frustrated and tired of wasting time and money on recipes I couldn’t trust.
While scrubbing the dishes that night, I thought to myself: maybe I should cook my way through Ina Garten’s recipes – my own little “Julie & Julia” experiment. I’d NEVER have to waste time on another flawed recipe because Ina wouldn’t let me down.
I’d be the store-bought version of Ina — not the real deal, but someone at home making it work. After encouragement from a friend, I took to Photoshop and recreated the “Julie & Julia” poster swapping in Ina and myself. I started the @StoreBoughtIsFine Instagram account and made a note that I hoped Meryl Streep would be available to play us in the movie version. 😉
Since that day, I’ve made over 750 of Ina’s recipes and moved from the frozen aisle to preparing most of my meals using fresh ingredients. There are times I had to give up finding morel mushrooms in Upper Manhattan, skip the caviar (rent’s not cheap!) or resort to storing kitchen equipment under my bed. But all in all, it’s been a fun, fabulous education on how to cook and entertain and has opened my eyes to the whole food world in general.
Now there isn’t a day that passes where I’m not voraciously reading about food – everything from the history of cooking to food politics and the systems and trends surrounding it. I’ve particularly enjoyed learning about the science behind cooking and what really makes a recipe work. With this new found passion, I started developing my own recipes and tweaking some old favorites. Every day, I’m learning something new and look forward to sharing those learning with people just like I was – interested in food and cooking but not sure where to start.
I hope you’ll follow along as I continue this journey here and on Instagram.