Welcome to ‘Cooking with Sonya’! I have been cooking and entertaining for close to twenty years now and along the way have learned a few things that I want to share with all you other foodies out there. Some planning tips, favorite tools, presentation ideas, and of course, fabulous recipes that profile seasonal ingredients and dishes made with lots of love.
When I graduated from college I may well have qualified as one of America’s worst cooks. I moved to Seattle and was sharing a rented house in a not-so-great section of Seattle with a girlfriend from back home and our two crazy dogs. Well mine was crazy and hers was just guilty by association. By day I worked as a systems admin. But in between troubleshooting and rebooting PC’s I harbored a secret burning desire to host amazing dinner parties. I could picture myself in our ‘cozy’ little kitchen, putting out platter after platter of delicious looking dishes to the smiling, nodding faces of my guests as they exchanged witty jokes and sipped on wine. The only problem was….I didn’t actually know how to cook anything that didn’t come out of a can. Yet.
So I bought a copy of ‘Bon Appetit’ magazine and I started working my through it, recipe by recipe. Homemade meatballs, fresh tomato sauce, risotto, baked chicken, braided bread, crepes, pad thai. Every dish was measured in exact amounts, instructions read and re-read multiple times. But they turned out. And I loved what I had created. I threw dinner party after dinner party, borrowing serving platters and cooking tools from my Aunt AJ, a natural gourmet cook who never once had the heart to tell me I may be going a bit overboard with a menu of seven made-from-scratch-dishes for a party of six guests. Eventually I even graduated to Gourmet Magazine and Food & Wine and Savuer. And I stopped measuring everything in exact amounts and started trusting my evolving instinct in the kitchen. Oh and there were amazing successes, really spectacular evenings of wonderful food and smiles and nods. And….there were failures….epic failures. The times when my guests didn’t eat until ten-thirty at night because I’d planned too many ‘made from scratch dishes’. Forgotten key ingredients (like cornstarch in a pie filling) which transformed the homemade crust into a mushy mess that could only be eaten family style by spoon (at 11 at night). And then there was the lime beef. Oh the lime beef. I cannot even talk about the Lime Beef except to say that we actually tossed it in a gas station trashcan despite it being the only the only thing we had to eat on a car ride to Tahoe for a weekend of skiing.
Eventually I even started creating my own recipes and catering parties for friends and family. I signed on for weddings, cocktail parties, family gatherings, anything from six to five hundred people – apparently not learning anything from my past about being a bit overzealous in my production efforts. But eventually these experiences paid off. I learned something from each event and I kept moving forward and improving. And through all the years of cooking the desire to create and share the love of food never went away.
And now I am able to share that love of food and the gift of cooking for others with my two kids. We cook, we laugh, we make mistakes in the kitchen, but we keep at it. And I I look forward to sharing with you, too. So host a dinner party! Make a mess in the kitchen and see where it takes you…..