Smitten Kitchen. It’s my Happy Place.

Image from  Drooling yet?

It’s no secret- I love to cook.

I love the calm, repetitive chopping and prepping of vegetables.  I am relaxed by the scent of ingredients being transformed by heat; in a pan, in the oven, on a grill.  I am happiest when I finish working for the day, and I have time to wander a grocery store selecting ingredients before heading home to try out a new recipe in my (tiny) kitchen.  Before I found my way back to a job working with wine (and therefore, food), I would drool over wine and food blogs online during my lunch hour.  (I should have known I was in the wrong profession when I realized my only daily escape from the worker bee life in a cubicle was planning dinner for that evening.)

One of my favorite spots to seek refuge from the beige walls of my corporate life was always Smitten Kitchen.

Huevos Rancheros

Not only is Deb Perelman one of the funniest writers I follow online, she is also one of my favorite food photographers.  Her pictures inspire me- and challenge me to think about the way my food looks as much as how it tastes.   Deb’s recipes are usually simple to follow, full of comfort and always rejoicing in the home-made. There’s no surprise she’s going to be releasing a cookbook soon.

I was perusing her site the other day and realized I have so many memories attached to her recipes…

The infamous Crepe Cake from my sister’s birthday.  Still the most reliable and delicious pastry cream recipe I have found.  Still one of the most fun and impressive cakes I know how to make.

Ginger Fried Rice.  Yes, Emil- this is the one that made our entire house and all of its contents smell like burnt garlic for weeks.  Take it from me- go easy on the garlic toasting. It gets away from you fast!

I remember I made this Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup last fall for my husband and our friend Rudy.  It’s the food that brings out the inner child in all of us. Pure comfort, and such a fun thing to feed two grown men on a cold, rainy evening.

Mom’s Apple Cake.   This is the food that will turn you into a kitchen genius in the eyes of your grandparents. I can hardly visit my grandmother without making this cake.  She loves it- and so do her wonderful neighbors.

I used to collect cookbooks with a vengeance, finding both solace and inspiration in their pages.  Now that I have fully accepted the digital lifestyle, the iPad, the Smart Phone, the multiple laptop household we have become, I also obsess over cooking and food blogs.  Smitten Kitchen is at the top of my list- I dare you to visit this site without itching to get into your kitchen.  Thanks Deb, for the inspiration and for giving me the motivation to follow my heart!