Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Cooking Class With the Food Nanny/Best Day Ever!!

 So you may or may not know that I am a HUGE fan of the Food Nanny on BYU-TV. I first read about her on a blog last spring and then I saw the book in Costco (where else?) and had to pick it up. I was instantly hooked. She is a huge advocate of family mealtime, which is something that I had been struggling with for a while. My husband works most evenings and is only home for dinner once or twice a week. This leaves me with four small kids and a great excuse to scrounge up some lame food most nights and not make anything special. I had a nagging feeling that I should be doing more, because I do love to cook, but was I being wasteful by making nice food for little kids who didn't appreciate it? And should I be eating well/gaining weight if I didn't have to? Cereal seemed to be the answer most of the time. I'd cook up something that sounded good once in a while and overindulge, then feel guilty and swear to eat cereal for a few days. My kids seemed to be happy with whatever I put in front of them, so I didn't have the motivation to make any changes. Then I found the Food Nanny, Liz Edmunds. She has raised seven children and attributes her success as a mother to consistent family meal times. What I can most relate to about her is that her husband was gone most of the time (he was a pilot), and she still brought her family together every single night for a home-cooked meal at the dinner table. She says she just needed something for her and her family to look forward to every single day. It was like a light bulb went off in my head after learning that. (What, her husband was gone all the time, too, and she STILL did all this? Well, why can't I?) I also love her philosophy about eating real and not dieting. She says you should eat what your body craves, but only until you are satisfied. Then you just push your plate back. And she obviously practices what she preaches because she is tiny! (So you mean I can make good food for my family AND eat it? And not spend my life counting calories? Sign me up!) Her cookbook is nothing short of amazing. Her recipes are simple but gourmet at the same time. Everything I have tried has been great. Everything. I absolutely love her philosophy about Family Dinner. "It's the most important time of the day!" she says repeatedly on her show. You can watch every episode on and I highly, highly recommend it. I have tried so many new recipes and methods of cooking that I never thought I would even attempt. Most importantly, my family has come to expect Family Dinner every night (or most nights!) whether Dad is home or not. It's not always fantastically planned out with the table set and wonderful food, but the kids don't seem to care. I just do my best that day, whatever it is. My kids love sitting at the dinner table together and discussing their days. We each tell the best part and worst part of our day and it leads to some pretty interesting conversations! Abby can't seem to distinguish the present day from the past, so we all have some great laughs over what she thinks happened that day, which probably happened several weeks ago, if at all. The other night Jason was with us and he was telling me all about what happened at work that day when I noticed Dallin was pouting. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Why don't we just call this Mom and Dad Dinner instead of Family Dinner, since you two are the only ones talking?" I had to laugh. I asked him what he wanted to talk about and he was just busting to tell everyone about how his CapriSun had sprung a leak in his lunchbox that day and ruined his lunch. I love that he was saving something that was important to him to share with the family at dinner.  
You can imagine my excitement a few weeks ago when I saw on the Food Nanny's Facebook page that she was going to be hosting a cooking class AT HER HOME for a very reasonable price, and it would include one of her cookbooks (Happy Birthday, Mom!)!! I immediately signed up and trusted that it would work out, and it did. I told Jason that it was my present for him going to Texas to hunt whitetails this week, which he had to agree with. It was SUCH a fun day. The thing I love most about Liz (I can call her Liz now, we are kind of tight like that) is her energy. She is a TINY little thing, but she is so excited about life and so full of passion about what she teaches. I always thought she was adorable, but wondered if maybe she was just a rich lady that loved to cook and had a lot of breaks in life. Not so. She is a humble, kind and hard-working lady who has made the best out of everything she has had to deal with in life. Her house is amazing, but it is not fancy. Just simple and beautiful and functional. Mostly, it is welcoming and comfortable. Very down to earth. I loved it. There were about fifteen people in the class and she made all of us feel so at home. I wanted to just stay afterward and hang out and help her do the dishes, but I had a babysitter at home and an hour drive ahead of me so I was sad to have to leave. The class was GREAT. She made so much food and ALL of it was fantastic. Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, French Baquettes, Bruschetta, Arugula Pizza, Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms, Spaghetti Carbonara... am I missing anything? She impressed me so much with her passion about cooking for her family. It's not like she just had her kids grow up and leave the house and got bored so she decided to write a book. She really lives it. She has lived this philosophy for 40 years and made a rich, wonderful life in the process. That is what I want! I want my kids to know what HOME feels like, and I think family meals around the dinner table on a consistent basis are the foundation for what I have been looking for. Even if it's just the kids and me most of the time. When Jason is home it is just all the more special.

Baquettes fresh out of the oven! So easy, and how cute is that little pan?
Liz made a special bruschetta that will be featured in her next cookbook (can't wait!!). It was amazing. I am still thinking about it.

Here she is adding the chicken to the Chicken Marsala. Wow, so good!
Here are just a few of my favorite recipes from the book, for your FYI (ha ha, I love it when people say "For your FYI" because it doesn't even make any sense!):
p. 34 Roast Chicken with Gravy - I make this for my VERY special friends when they have babies. It is probably my favorite meal to make in the world. I used to have a fear of raw chicken, and what the heck do you do with a whole chicken anyway, but Liz helps a lady who HATES raw meat make this on one of the shows (It's called "Chicken Chicken") and suggests using plastic gloves when handling raw meat! I picked up a box of surgical gloves and my life hasn't been the same since. I feel so liberated!
p. 78 Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms - I was so excited when she made this at the cooking class! It is the first thing I have ever made with cooking wine and it is SO fun and delicious. I love making it.
p. 182 Slow-Cooked Chicken Noodle Soup - Easiest and best chicken soup I have ever made! Sometimes I use potatoes instead of noodles. I also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it is fantastic.
p. 149 Grilled Salmon - I had never made salmon on the grill before, and this is now one of my go-to meals because it is so simple and my kids love it! Plus, I'm so excited to be feeding them fish! I feel like Mom of the Year.
p. 234 Liz's Crescent Dinner Rolls - Hands down, my favorite recipe. These are better than Lion House Rolls, in my opinion, and so easy! I make them way too much. I'm making them today, in fact. The best part of this recipe is that it makes one big pan of rolls that only needs 12 minutes in the oven, instead of three pans for 20 minutes each. Who has that kind of time? I can whip up the dough in ten minutes in the afternoon and pop them in the oven a few minutes before dinner, and wow. According to Luke, it's heaven.
There are so many more recipes that I love, and my secret goal is to try every recipe in the book. Probably won't really happen, but at least we will be eating good in the mean time! 

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Jilleen said...

I watched a few of her shows months ago and thought I should try her ideas, but then got lazy and never did. I have the same problems you have had... husband gone half of the time and kids happy with cereal and mac and cheese (not together, of course). I need to be better at making good meals. Thanks for the boost. :)

WeTheTeeples said...

Reading this ALMOST makes me want to cook something! :) I am going to watch her show at least a couple times. oh, and did you say you are making rolls today? We sure could use a little heaven in our house today. :)j/k

Lindsay said...

I love this cookbook too, I've used it so much I went and got it spiral bound! Her cresant rolls are the best - EVER! Liz is my good friend Jessica's aunt and I'm dying to meet her. Go Food Nanny!

T+J said...

I'm so glad you got to go!! It was probably a nice little trip all by yourself for once. The meals sound way good, I guess I better get this cookbook too. And on my quest to minimalism...because I want to be you...I went through my clothes again the other day & chucked quite a bit. thought you'd be proud, love you!