What is Cooking con Sal?

Photo Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography

Hi, I’m Vanessa, Social Media Strategist by day, and chef-wannabe by night. I decided to start this blog because I wanted a way to record what I cook, see progress, and also share recipes and tips I think are useful. Over the years I’ve had friends call me up and ask questions while they’re grocery shopping, cooking, or in response to what I’ve made, so I figure some people might be interested in it. Most importantly, while I’ll admit that some of my meals might be a bit complicated, I’m a working woman and have figured out how to get a great meal on the table in crunch time – something I think many home cooks are interested in.

But first things first, what is “Cooking con Sal”?

“Cooking con Sal” literally means “cooking with salt”. The name is a take on the spanish phrase “papa sin sal” which means “potato without salt” or bland. This saying is often applied not only to food but to life and people as well. My husband, Luis, is from Guatemala so he’s used to all sorts of spices and dishes I never saw in my family’s kitchen. When he first moved to the states, he’d use this phrase to describe a meal he didn’t like (out in a restaurant of course, not in my kitchen 🙂 ) Unfortunately for him, due to my weird food choices (see below “things you should know”), he doesn’t eat many skirt steaks or ropa vieja in this house, but he never complains. I know I’ve succeeded in making a great meal when he goes for seconds and skips the hot sauce.

Food Philosophy

You don’t have to be a professional chef or a full-time home-maker to put great meals on the table. This has been a tough lesson for me to learn. I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a home where my mom didn’t have to work outside the house and almost all my meals were made from scratch. My mom’s infamous Chicken Noodle Soup even includes hand-made egg noodles her grandmother taught her how to make. Thus, as a kid I didn’t see many drive-thrus or frozen meals – a good thing for my health – but now that I’m a working woman, I realize just how hard it is to put these quality meals on the table every night.

A story I think I’ll never be able to live down was the day I came home from dinner at a friend’s house and told my mom: “Mom, they had a really weird salad dressing – it was in a bottle.” My mom just laughed at my naiveté – mind you I think I was six or so. She made her dressings from scratch so I hadn’t seen dressing in a bottle yet. So, I try to make fresh meals but sometimes have to cut a few corners to save time, which could even include bottled salad dressing (although I have to say, to this day, I’m not a fan).

Many times, people are just intimidated by what they don’t know. There’s nothing special about my cooking other than the fact that I put in the time to figure out how to do it – I like to experiment and if it doesn’t work out – oh well, better luck next time. Most importantly, I think the the kitchen should be the center of the home. That’s the way it was in my house and I spent many nights sitting at the breakfast bar talking to my mom about my day as she prepared dinner. The kitchen is a special place that can bring people together, nourishing your soul not only with food but with love. You can find joy in cooking not just by putting fabulous meals on the table and feeling a sense of accomplishment, but also in learning patience and humility when the meal does not turn out so good for whatever reason. When you do finally master a recipe, there’s nothing quite like the sweet taste of success when you eat something delicious you created with your own two hands.

A few things you should know about what you’ll find on this blog:

  1. I’m a new vegan after successfully finishing a 30 day challenge. I haven’t figured out yet how long this newfound veganism will last, but for now, it will likely only be vegan meals you’ll be seeing on this blog. However, I promise they will be full of sal! (don’t worry, that’s for flavor, not salt). I have a pretty unique palate – some people prefer to call it picky, but I like to think of it as “unique”. Over the years I’ve developed some strange eating habits for no apparent reason – for starters here’s the biggest one: I pretty much only eat Chicken for my meat. I don’t eat any red meat or pork except for spicy tacos, hot dogs, and crispy bacon (oh and I do love my bacon!). I know, I know…it’s strange and doesn’t make sense. Point is – you won’t be seeing any steak or pork tenderloin on this blog. I do love seafood though so it won’t be only chicken for protein.
  2. I don’t believe only the fabulous recipes should be shared – the mistakes are what make us learn and cook better. So, from time to time, I will share some not so great results in an effort to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes as me, and better yet – get feedback on what I could have done to make it better.
  3. As much as I aspire to create my own recipes, I lack that one important element that can make someone a real chef – a distinctive palate. I know if something tastes good or bad but I haven’t quite developed the ability to determine why. I long for the day that I can taste a pot of simmering soup and know exactly what is missing. Without this talent, I’m not the best at creating my own recipes, although I do try. Thus, most of the recipes you will find on this blog come from other sources which will be credited accordingly or better yet, linked to the original source.
  4. This is a personal blog so there may be some philosophical ramblings here and there. Related or un-related to food, all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

If you’d like to connect with me, please leave a comment or find me on Twitter: @VSDieguez

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