December 29, 2009

The Naptime Chef™ Blogiversary: Year One, a Summary {Naptime Simple Tips}

Becoming a parent requires developing a new sensibility about home cooking. Nothing throws a wrench into a family’s food life like the birth of a baby. Gone are the long hours of free time available for “project cooking” and making homemade puff pastry. Once a child arrives we, the parents, are forced – often under extreme duress – to develop a whole new approach to our kitchens. All of sudden we find ourselves steeling free moments during the day and evening to cook dinner, bake cookies or simply mix a much-needed cocktail. In addition, any remaining blink of free time is used to complete basic, but necessary, household chores likes laundry and bill-paying. In short, all it takes is one baby to take everything we once knew about happily cooking at home, and turn it upside down.

I was sad to discover that cooking and eating at home had indeed become a problem for my friends over a playgroup discussion in 2008. As I shared my strategy for make-ahead Chicken Tortellini Soup and Eggplant and Prosciutto lasagna, several people confessed to succumbing to the formulaic solutions often foisted upon new families. Many of them were turning to uninspired boring ideas like meals made in a short time-frame, with 5 ingredients or less, or assembled with a “fast, easy, fix-it” mentality. They had given up any hope of enjoying good food. Instead, taking the position that family cooking is a problem that needs to be solved, rather than a daily routine that should be enjoyed. It was at that point I realized my personal home cooking strategy and recipes were more relevant then I had previously thought.

A year ago I started this blog to inspire parents and foodies alike, record my ideas and share my revised approach to home cooking as a parent. Since 2007, despite the ceaseless demands of my wonderful daughter, I have stubbornly refused to let go of my favorite activities, cooking and baking. Most of time I cook and bake during her afternoon naptime, sometimes I cook on the fly, and on many nights we have leftovers or, occasionally, take-out. But, not matter what, I insist on enjoying my time in the kitchen. In two short years I have made the transition from fun singles and couples cooking a la “Big Girls, Small Kitchen” – a time in my life I remember fondly – to becoming a true Naptime Chef.

The key to fitting great food into family life, I find, is to marry the voices of the foodie and the parent in my mind. My dishes are inspired by many sources including the farmer’s market, cookbooks, magazines or just what I happen to be craving that day. In that way I act like a complete foodie. However, before I actually cook or bake anything, I consider the time-frame in which it can be made, how many ways I can serve it and what might be freezer-friendly. In that way I think like a parent. Both perspectives are absolutely necessary when enjoying home cooking, they are inextricably intertwined. Parenting is forever, and good food should be, too.

I am glad you have joined me as I capture this time in my life and write it down for you to read. I hope you understand how I fit delicious food into my hectic daily life and feel inspired to do so in yours. In addition to my writing, I’ve also been filming my webisodes to demonstrate exactly how I do things in my kitchen. And, trust me, those videos are the absolute truth. I have never had any sort of regular nanny or babysitter, I film everything while my daughter is napping – from start to finish.

Thank you all for reading and leaving such wonderful comments, it is always much appreciated. I look forward to a fantastic coming year and already have lots on the docket to share with you. In the mean time, please feel free to leave any and all feedback, your thoughts are always welcome. Happy New Year!

2009 Highlights:

The Naptime Chef’s Cooking channel on MEVIO

The Kitchn, Holiday Guest Post

Bon Appetit Holiday Bake-Off participant

Food52 two-time winner

Woman Around Town profile

CafeMom profile

Babble Nibblers regular contributor

The Naptime Chef Recipe Index

(Also, my trademark was just approved!!)

Stay tuned for Thursday’s recipe, my very favorite French Silk Pie with Coconut Crust for the New Year!