Hi there! I’m Erin, creator of Family Recipe. My mind is a sloshing pool of ideas for this site, but before we dive in, I’ll let you know a little bit about me and give a brief guide to where we are headed on this cooking adventure.
I’ve sat down to write an intro a few times now, and each time it feels like a cross between a high school journal entry and my (yet to be deserved) memoir. So, in the hopes of cutting to the info you actually want to know, we’ll do this Q&A-style.
Who are you?
I am many things, but in this moment I am mother to my sweet, funny, creative, & curious 17-month-old, Teddy and wife to my smarty-pants husband, Eddie. We live just outside Portland, Oregon, where Eddie and I moved shortly after our engagement in 2011. Prior to that, we lived in Arizona.
My professional background is in education. I once thought I was destined to be a teacher in the very traditional sense. I was a member of Future Teachers of America in high school, taught preschool in college, was a camp counselor in the summers- the whole shebang. My degree is in elementary & special education. Originally, my intention in earning dual certification was to gain special ed. knowledge to apply in the general ed. classroom, but I ended up getting a job in a special education role, and that’s really what lead me here.
During my two years of teaching in Arizona, I spent much of my experience feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. It was rough for many reasons, the main one being that it just wasn’t a good fit for me. When Eddie and I moved to Oregon, I intentionally held off on transferring my teaching license and finding a teaching job. Reaching such an intense degree of burnout in such a short period of time was a huge red flag, so I gave myself a few months to explore my options. My options, it turns out, were pretty limited (because when all your job experience is education-related, there’s no way you might know how to answer phones, provide customer service, etc.), so back to the classroom I went- this time as a substitute instructional aide. Initially, it felt like a big step backward since I wasn’t even subbing as a teacher, but it turned out to be one of those things-happen-for-a-reason decisions.
As an IA, I found for the first time I LOVED what I was doing. I was teaching either one-on-one or in small groups, and instead of worrying about the piles of grading and paperwork and dreading phone calls from parents about their children’s “undeserved” low grades, I got to go home at the end of the day sans all those extra responsibilities/ stressors. Eventually, subbing turned to temporary positions, which turned to a permanent position. It was all dandy, but it still had its complications. IA’s don’t make much, and full-time positions are hard to come by. When I had my son, Eddie and I decided it didn’t make financial sense to put him in daycare. So, I stayed home. I love having the time with my son, and feel very privileged to do it, but I miss working outside the home. I need to stretch some different muscles.
But what does that have to do with cooking?
Thank you for asking!
The classrooms I worked in were primarily Life Skills classes, which teach students with varying degrees of intellectual disabilities the skills they need to interact with the world around them as independently as possible (think social skills, basic needs such as feeding and toileting, etc.). The types of positions I worked in didn’t provide much room for professional growth, though, and because job hours are assigned based on student needs, there was a lack of stability from year to year. The intrinsic rewards are tremendous, but not enough to support a family.
So I’ve spent a great deal of time considering alternatives where I can teach without being tied to the frustrating politics of the public school system. There’s a fantastic satisfaction that comes with teaching someone skills that help them gain independence. Pride oozes out of them, and it’s superbly contagious. But what can I teach people that will impact their lives?
Du-du-du-dah… COOKING! Cooking is a skill every single human benefits from to some degree, multiple times a day. It’s a life skill- everyone has to eat, and unless you’re one of those rare raw-food-only breeds, you have to cook to do that. As luck would have it, I’m pretty good at it, too. During my days as a salmon, I gained respite in my kitchen, honing my skills and creating new recipes (filling my coworkers with lunch envy as I revealed my leftovers each day).
I grew up in a family of home cooks, so it was strange to me that friends were always so impressed with dishes I’d make that felt pretty basic to me. Why don’t people know how to do these things? Why is cooking- a basic life skill- so intimidating to so many capable adults? Because they didn’t grow up with it like I did! Kids have to be allowed in the kitchen to experiment, watch you cook, and be given opportunities to cook in order to have any idea how to do it for themselves later on.
But cooking with your kids is hard. There are a million reasons why bringing your kids in to help with meal prep can feel overwhelming- kids are rambunctious, you need to get food on the table quickly to fit a busy schedule, they don’t seem interested, and so on.
What you may have not considered: kids who can cook can cook FOR YOU. It takes an investment of time and energy initially, but will benefit you- a busy, exhausted parent- tremendously in the long-run. Also, forget about picky eaters. I mean, they might still be picky to a degree, but kids are far more likely to try new things when they’re allowed to choose what they’re eating and have a role in making it. Plus, when they spread their little wings and leave the nest, you won’t have to worry about them starting their dorm rooms on fire when they try to microwave their Easy Mac with the spoon still in it (because they’ll know better).
Aside from it being completely a self-serving/ genius ploy to check off a few boxes on your endless to-do list, cooking with your kids will help your family spend quality time together, creating loads of precious memories. Years from now, you’ll be able to reminisce about the AMAZING lasagna your 10-year-old made without a recipe or laugh about that time you tried to make fortune cookies from scratch, and they turned into gooey dough piles with scraps of paper baked in (True story. We’ll talk about it later.).
And the good news is that you don’t have to know where to start or even anything about cooking! That’s my job- I’ve got you covered.
Stay tuned for…
- Instructional videos
- Tips on making delicious dishes with stuff in your fridge right now (WITHOUT A RECIPE!)
- Opportunities for in-home cooking classes with yours truly!