I’m a mother of four kids aged two through eight who can crank out homemade pasta for six in under 30 minutes. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a job. I’m fearless. I feed my soul by teaching folks how to eat well. I’m on a mission to return dignity to the American foodlife.
I have no formal professional training. I think I’ve got something better. I’m a passionate cook and eater who is also fascinated by the role of food in one’s satisfaction with life. I am an unapologetic home cook.
I was born in the western suburbs of Chicago and have lived in North and South Carolina, Boston, Japan, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Greenwich, CT. Most of my pre-kids career was spent doing sales for a very large Japanese company and then a British company. I speak Japanese–though poorly nowadays–own my second coonhound and have an iPod filled with gospel music. I’ve been all over the place–both literally and figuratively.
Cooking isn’t actually my natural talent. It’s tasting that I do best. I didn’t really learn how to cook until about five years ago. This pursuit was necessitated by the appearance of “fat Jill” in my mirror. You can only call it “pregnancy weight” for so long. Right? I was tired. I felt unattractive. I couldn’t shop at any of the stores I used to enjoy. My strategy at the time was to have a great haircut and fabulous shoes- maybe then nobody would notice what was going on in between.
When I finally faced the undeniable reality, I felt overwhelmed. I saw a nutritionist and she said- surprise!- eat less. I and my family had existed on take-out and frozen prepared food. You just can’t eat very much of that processed stuff and stay in a healthy calorie range. I also realized that a big part of the reason why I ate so much of that crap at every sitting was because I was always hoping that eating more of it would make up for the not-so-great flavor. So I started cooking.
One foot in front of the other, I began my journey. I figured out how to plan meals, grocery shop and choose a recipe. I had to make decisions about the way that our family values would play out at the dinner table- how to deal with the “eews” and pickiness. All along I thought that everyone else had this area of their life together. It was just me who somehow got left out of the club where women learned to cook and eat well.
As I progressed in my learning, I began asking other moms how they fed their families. To my astonishment, I learned that most women were way worse off than we were. They either never cooked or everything they cooked was just a reconstitution of processed foods. A can of Cream of Sodium soup, a package of chicken breasts and some pre-shredded cheese tossed into a Crock Pot counted as a homemade dinner. There was nary a vegetable in sight. “Kids just won’t eat ’em.”
My quest began. Encouraged by people who knew how we ate, I began to teach what i knew. I simultaneously learned so much from the moms who came to my classes and all the other people I spoke with. As I read more, the importance of food to a great quality of life overwhelmed me. I’m still learning.
Readyprepgo.com is what I wished for while I was figuring this all out on my own. There really was no book or DVD or anything else out there that attempted to teach me how to pull together an entire foodlife. I was lucky to have a best friend who is a professional chef as my mentor, but most of you don’t. So I’m giving you what I wished for and sharing “Uncle Kylie” with you.