Meet guest author Jennifer F. Stoker, Chef and Author of She Cooks She Scores.
My first food memories were of cooking with my grandmother and all the wonderful Italian dishes that she created. I watched her hand-roll pasta and simmer sauces for hours on the stove.
Watching her put care and attention into every dish amazed me. After that, my affection for food and cooking was destined to grow into a lifelong love.
In the early eighties, Food Network was nonexistent. Julia Child ran the airwaves and was creating a culinary dynasty. I was nine years old and my childhood friend Becca and I got together every week to watch our favorite TV show line-up: The Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, and Julia Child. I remember being absolutely fascinated by Julia and her cooking. After her shows, Becca and I would go into the kitchen and get it ready for our cooking show. We cleared off the counters to create a huge space and set up the ingredients. Just as they do on the set of a cooking show, we prepared our ingredients with great care. With my mother pretending she was the camera person, we would perform in front of our imaginary audience. I would go through the dialogue and motions of a poised celebrity chef. This experience was one of the most significant of my childhood. Little did I know, I was laying the foundation for my future. I remember when I was eleven years old, my mother took Becca and I to a very upscale French bakery in St. Louis.
As soon as we walked in, I noticed the overwhelming, wonderful smell of sweet, buttery pastries, baked bread, and chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven. The glass case was with filled with beautiful, sugary pastries and cookies that I had never seen before. They looked liked works of art. The sophistication of the place made me feel like royalty. That culinary experience was so powerful that every time I walk into a bakery or pastry shop, I am instantly brought back to that moment in my childhood. Everyone can conjure childhood memories that revolve around food.
Food, in every culture, is so much more than just something to eat. It’s about tradition, experiences, and memories of the people and places we love. Food is the heart and nucleus of life. It is the epicenter that encompasses us all. Whenever there is a gathering in someone’s home, where does everyone congregate? The kitchen, right? Somehow everyone ends up staying in the kitchen because this is where the pulse is generated. Everyone feels some sort of connection to food. The inviting warmth of the kitchen makes this connection come full circle and brings us all together. With food and beverages we create that comfort zone among friends and family that brings new memories into our lives. Sharing your creations with your loved ones will open a treasure trove of lifelong memories.
When I think about the importance of food and people, I get a sense of a special bonding between the two. Not only does food nourish and help us survive on a day-to-day basis, it bridges the gap between us all. I want to share with you my culinary journey and how all of the recipes in this book came about. Each one has a story behind it.
As I said before, family and friends go hand-in-hand with food. This is what connects us and creates significant memories for years to come. The memories created around these recipes in my new cookbook, “She cooks She Scores”, means a lot to me and have changed my life in many ways. Without all of the people who came in and out of my life, the recipes and my book would not have been created. In my opinion, the sauce makes a meal, and without it you have a dull, tasteless dish. I compare all my family and friends to a fine, flavorful sauce—without them, my dishes would be nothing. The sauce is built on layers of flavors and as you create it, the flavors are added in stages. Each flavor component represents a significant part of the recipe. With the right amount of each ingredient, the layers of flavor blend together and a memorable sauce is created. They don’t call me the Sauce Queen for nothing.
She Cook She Scores Cookbook
Jenn’s book, She Cooks, She Scores, is available on Amazon.com. Jennifer dishes on her exes and how each of them inspired the meals presented within the book.
Connect with Jenn Stoker
Photo Credit: jennstocker.com & amazon.com