baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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so fine

I think NaBloWriMo is sucking the creative juices from my brain.

I usually plop down and crank out a post lickity split, but today… I’ve been writing and deleting and writing and deleting all afternoon. So I’m giving it one last go and that will be it.

During my recent funk I was having a heck of a time trying to muster up the excitement to cook or bake something and blog about it. You would think I could food blog in my sleep at this point. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew I felt dissatisfied. Once out of that downward spiral, I tried to figure out what the problem was.

I think it was the culmination of various physical ailments coupled with expenditure of all remaining energy on visitors and travel for an extended period of time. Basically, I was getting zero creative input. I wasn’t able to keep up with my favorite food blogs, read my cooking magazines, flip through cookbooks, brainstorm ideas. Oddly, Art Culinaire arrived right at the time things began to settle down for me. Like a spark, it reignited my inspiration.

When I’m not stressing, the ideas flow and it’s a real joy for me to plan new recipes I want to try and prattle on about them here. When I am stressed and feeling crappy, it becomes a chore. I never want my blog to be a chore, because really – it’s OCD therapy :) Perhaps recognizing the circumstances that put the kibosh on the creative process will help me avoid that very problem in the future. I hope so.

One of my favorite sources of inspiration is a cooking rag. It’s not any old cooking rag. Taunton Press publishes lovely periodicals. I sometimes want to get into woodworking or gardening for the sole purpose of justifying subscriptions to Fine Woodworking or Fine Gardening. For now, I am plenty satisfied with Fine Cooking.

my collection goes to the beginning, almost

I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning. I have all of their issues except the first two because some dorkus (Rich) I knew in college “borrowed” them for freaking ever. Other subscriptions have come and gone: Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Saveur, Chocolatier, Cooking Light, Sunset, and… Cook’s Illustrated. It seems that there are two camps out there: Fine Cooking devotees and Cook’s Illustrated devotees. No offense to the Cook’s camp, but being the visual parrot I am, it doesn’t do my jollies the way Fine Cooking does. I love my Fine Cooking.

longtime friend

While I raved about my new subscription to Art Culinaire, that inspiration is more of an artistic one. Fine Cooking sparks ideas in my head and covers recipes that I can actually produce at home. It’s more practical – more attainable. It’s like a present whenever I open our post office box and find a precious issue waiting for me. The focus of discussion is all food-related and the photos keep me coming back for more. I love it, and I think you might too.

…which is why I’m giving away a year’s subscription to Fine Cooking! It is one of my cooking inspirations. Taunton Press has nothing to do with this – I love their publication so much I want to share the love with one of you.

What inspires your cooking? Is it a memory, a person, a book, a restaurant, a culture…? Leave a comment before midnight October 30, 2008 Mountain Time and I will hold a drawing to see who wins a year of Fine Cooking – US *or* international, so don’t be shy! The winner will be selected by our most faithful, furry companion…

kaweah (at 13 weeks)

215 nibbles at “so fine”

  1. Amanda says:

    I like European food culture, where you eat everything and savor every bite. I feel like guilt shouldn’t belong at a dinner table and kitchen, but its a common emotion I feel if I decide to be indulgent one day. Eat what you want, when you want, and mindfully enjoy every bite of it. That should be everyone’s motto!

  2. Caitlin says:

    Okay, so Kaweah is the cutest ever, but at 13 wks – I can barely stand it! As for cooking inspiration, I have my root source and my every day. Root source – my dad, who forced me as a child to cook with him at least 2-3 times a week but who left me with an enduring love of food. Every day – food blogs with pretty pictures. I troll around sites during down time at work, and it’s just about all I can do sometimes not to leave work, race home, and start cooking. And thank you – I had never heard of Fine Cooking until tonight!

  3. Salena says:

    That has to be the best puppy photo I’ve ever seen. I love her expression! My grandmother piqued my interest in cooking. She’s an adventurous, accomplished cook who somehow manages to make everything taste good, usually without a recipe. I’m told that whenever her kids smelled something good coming from the kitchen, they’d ask what was for dinner and she’d say, “an experiment,” to which they would all cheer. On a day-to-day basis, most of my ideas are gleaned from food blogs.

  4. Cate says:

    My mom inspires my cooking. Growing up, she had a home cooked dinner on the table EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, which I didn’t appreciate until well into my twenties. She would seek out the proper ingredients to make REAL Chinese food, and I think that inspired my love of ethnic cooking. She never brought packaged food into the house – all desserts were from scratch and macaroni and cheese never came from a box. I try to follow the same basic guidelines she set for dinners in our house growing up – always include at least one vegetable, look for the freshest ingredients, and don’t be afraid to try a new recipe.

  5. Vicki says:

    I blame the internet and all the wonderful blogs I’ve found for inspiring me…

  6. Steph says:

    My mom has always made sure that my brother and I ate solidly healthy meals – lots of vegetables, no processed food, and plenty of organic produce and meat.

    ahh. The puppy picture made me squeal.

  7. Rosa says:

    Books, magazines (French, Swiss and American), people, going to the market, browsing through the aisles of supermarkets and the internet (blogs & sites) inspire me! In fact, if I’m in a good mood, pretty much anything can have an influence on my creativity as an amateur cook/baker…



  8. Manggy says:

    AAAAH! KAWEAH SO CUTE!!! Yes, I am a 26 year-old man, why do you ask? Anyway, Kaweah owes me for last time. Kidding! I can forgive the cutie for anything. Puppies always do me in.
    This is going to sound like the most pretentious thing ever, but art inspires me. Geometry, sculpture and height, patterns and ornamentation– when I’m at my best I love interpreting them through dessert. I realize, though, that there are pastry professionals out there who blog and do jaw-dropping jobs, but I like a challenge even if I don’t deliver as well. Seeing pictures of fancy-schmancy desserts on magazines and television also inspire me to try to figure out how they do it and give it a shot at home :)

  9. Jake says:

    Finally going out into the city I live in (Houston, Tx) reminded me just how much food there is to taste and to try. My love of food inspires me. My love of making people happy using my cooking inspires me. To pass out a fresh batch of cookies and get back to my seat amidst a sea of “mmmm”‘s is what keeps me going back into the kitchen. Finding a new twist to try on something old to spice it up. Creativity is my inspiration. There’s so many things that motivate me to keep cooking and everyone one of them I couldn’t live without. I love cooking!

  10. Nabeela says:

    I’ve been finding myself flowing with creative juices recently unlike you! I think my main muse is a good cookbook. I recently purchased Essentials of Mediterranean from Williams Sonoma..and although it isn’t a great book, it certainly inspired me to go in the kitchen.

  11. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Aw, helloooo Kaweah!

    Can’t even begin to think of anything at the moment (so tired) but it is fun reading everyone else’s inspirational sources :)

  12. linda says:

    I’ve always loved food and cooking, probably because my dad has too. Besides him cookbooks, food magazines and food blogs inspire me in cooking and baking. My day-to-day cooking is not very fancy but I rarely use prepared foods and things from a box. But when I’m having people over for a dinner party I ‘really’ cook, rarely recipes I find but dishes inspired by all of the above.

  13. marion says:

    Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!! Kaweah was so cuuuuuuuuuuuuute ^_^ (stupid smile on my face)

  14. Erin says:

    What inspires my cooking…. lots of things….my husband, my family, Mexico, Sicily. Oh and wonderful blogs like this one!

  15. kat says:

    Kaweah is very cute. Makes me want to run out and add a puppy to my home. Only the reality of what dog ownership really means is what stops me. As for cooking, it’s kind of the same thing. I’m all about reading about cooking- not so much about actually cooking. The blogs let me delude myself into thinking that I really will cook.

  16. Jenny says:

    Food blogs, magazines, cookbooks – I’m addicted to them all and they all inspire my cooking. I love that picture of Kaweah.

  17. Debbie Green says:

    I love cakes, cookies, pastries and Italian food. Those are my favorites. My grandmother made great Italian food and I watched her in the kitchen when I was very young. I love beautiful desserts and have had many failures (still have them) but about a year ago I was determined to beome a really good cook and baker and simply decided that I was NOT going to give up and toss a meal or cake or whatever into the trash because it did not look picture perfect or taste excellent. I would keep trying and trying until I got it right. And finally I did. I learned (after years of frustration) that sometime you have to cook a recipe several times and keep trying until you get it right. It doesn’t always happen the first time. Why did it take me 30 years to figure this one out???? I guess I am slow!!!! I recently discovered Cuisine at Home. I don’t know if you are familiar with that mag but I like it because there are no advertisements!!!

  18. Dona says:

    My favorite inspiration? Use Real Butter! I already subscribe to Fine Cooking though.

  19. Maja says:

    Kaweah is such a cutie!! And blue really suits here. ;) What inspires me to cook? When i was in my early teens, it was this textbook for cooks, practically no pictures, but plenty of information on how stuff works and why. I would imagine the textures of foods and put meaning to the words i was reading. Now it’s a lot of stuff you do, that inspire me, because you show the photos of the process, food blogs with pretty pictures, food porn sites, always sites with food accessories … i just discovered this swiss site with molds, tins, nozzles, modelling tools, fondant smoothers … and just looking at all the accessories, dreaming about how they will make my job easy and better makes me fantasize about what to do with them first (i ordered a couple of things, should get here next week, can’t wait, there are three b-day cakes i have to do next week, and one has to be shrek-themed). Cookbooks i have at home, though lately i have become such a photo slut, i fantasize with my eyes first and then read the recipe. Stores and markets with all the wonderful products inspire me, especially if i find sth new i couldn’t buy before. Also talking about food, right now, thinking about it, makes me wanna go to the kitchen and see what i can come up with. I have to write my thesis, though, so i’ll rather stop with this and get to it, before it’s too late and i’m elbow-deep in preparing sth. :)

  20. Wendy H says:

    I think my family inspires me to want to cook healthy tasty meals so that we can sit down and actually eat together during a hectic week. My inspiration comes from food blogs, magazines, cooking shows or even a great meal at a restaurant once in awhile. Love the photo of kaweah :).

  21. haya says:

    my reason for cooking come from a love for the earth and a desire to cut back on my footprint. it’s hard not to generate a ton of garbage and greenhouse gas emissions when you buy packaged and frozen everything that has been shipped in from hundreds of miles away. it comes from a want to be more connected to what i eat and where it comes from.
    my inspirations come from everywhere, but probably mostly the internet. blogs like your inspire me to want to make my own beautiful, delicious (and green!) dishes.

  22. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    There are so many things that inspire my cooking. I think at the top of the list would be my family. My Nonna, Grandma and Mom were cooking sensations. I grew up eating authentic Sicilian cooking. I got lots of “what he heck is that?” from my shcool friends, but once they tasted something, they didn’t say that again.

    I also get inspiration from my fellow bloggers. The pics, the descriptions, the stories. One of these, or all of these will inspire me to try a recipe.

    There’s also the cookbooks and magazines and a few folks on the Food Network (I love Ina & Alton).

    Lastly, just he pure love of cooking for my friends and family and seeing how much they enjoy what I cooked or baked.

  23. Sil BsAs says:

    My inspiration comes from my “nonna”, my Italian grandmother who came to Argentina escaping the war and cooked with so much love that made simple meals the best ones.
    I don’t want to forget my mom, who made her childs the best desserts in the world just to please them even if she preferred to cook other things…
    And of course, blogs like this one help a lot!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  24. Fiona says:

    OMG that is sick. It’s a good thing that baby black labs are *so* dark. If I could see every detail in that photo, I think I’d have to go dunk my head in the koi pond.

    Onward: Like a lot of people, I’m inspired by travel, and restaurant meals and things I’ve eaten out in the world. But it would be pure bullshit to pretend that it started anywhere other than my mother. When I was a kid she was in a hippie stage and we ate a lot of nasty stuff (plain tofu, brewer’s yeast, huge vitamins every day, veg with no seasoning or butter to speak of – healthy but healthy a la Diet for a Small Planet, not Deborah Madison).

    But throughout, she cooked and involved me (first chef’s knife cut? Age 3. This is a “discussion” between me and Charles about when Iain can use a knife.) and asked what I thought and ignored my griping. And when I got to about 16, she threw off the shackles of health food and returned to her roots in French cooking and holy dookie, Batman, that was a change. I think both my dad and I just about leapt out of our skins with delight.

    Since then, she’s given me magazine subscriptions, books, tips, and various ideas. She cooks with me whenever we’re together (like next weekend!), and she makes me things I’d never make (crabcakes! Rice pudding!). She also cooks an incredibly restricted diet for my dad, who has one non-functional kidney and has been in cancer treatment for 5 years for his bladder. He can only eat about 7 things, and she makes his life pleasurable within those constraints.

    What’s bizarre, for me, about this is that I just had a baby. So I’m sitting here thinking how my mother sparked my interest in food, cooking, gardening (I used to get Fine Gardening and it’s awesome), etc. and wondering to myself…will Iain get that kind of inspiration from me?

    This was fun. Thanks, Jen.

  25. jennywenny says:

    Oh wow, what a precious photo of kaweah! I guess my home country inspires my cooking a lot, I picked up a copy of ‘delcious’ in the airport on the way back and I wanted to make everything, big sticky toffee puddings, toad in the whole, all of it scrummy. Maybe I hope it will make me miss my friends and family a little less…

  26. Michelle says:

    I really think cooking is a great way to center a family – whether it’s just me and my husband or a group of family or friends, sitting down around a table with good, homecooked food and a glass of wine is a great way to reconnect. Life’s so busy… I really relish the timeout that cooking brings – to me and to my loved ones.

  27. Emily says:

    Stress relief. Cooking makes me a little less crazy. The discipline, or even perhaps the potential for creative interpretation. And really, it helps me center myself. Um, plus, I get an awesome reward once all the baking/cooking is done. :o)

    Thanks for sharing your creativity with the world. I love your photographs!

  28. Margie says:

    It began with an electric skillet and my mother, over my shoulder, instructing me on how to put together her favored zucchini dish. My grandparents arrived that Sunday for dinner. The rest is history. I climbed into recipe books, turned back pages in magazines or tore them out according to the gift of ownership, recieved.
    The lean years of an early marriage would teach me how to be creative with basics, how to stretch a meal or how to redeem it from it’s bare element. Gift giving allowed me a creative outlet far greater than that simple, daily challenge. Learning to present a dish became as exciting as baking it. And, I didn’t know Miss Martha S., so I was left to my own devices and the discards of paper fluff within my elementary life.
    I began collecting cook books, not for accessories, but for instruction. Eventually I came to know by reading the prep or miscellany of a dish whether or not I thought it was worth a trial run. Now I find myself perusing food blogs for much the same reason. I’m constantly amazed at the volume of talent and the varied interests of those that take the time to write them. Forever, in the back of my mind, I’ve wanted to put one together myself, but my OCD doesn’t organize itself in the manner yours does, Jen. I become ‘chewed up and spit out’ after a manic phase, finding myself in a corner rolling the dice and asking the next question, “Where to now?” For this I credit you and the many others that write, photograph and submit on a regular basis. I am impressed by your, ‘Keep on keeping on’ attitudes and am thankful and gracious to all!

  29. April in CT says:

    Woah, this kicks ass! There are so many inspirations, but mainly my mom and family. I love cooking for them (and anyone else!) and making happy tummies.

    Great give away and thank you! :o)

  30. Kathy says:

    Visual inspiration here! I get revved up to cook when I see beautiful & colorful fruits and veggies at farmer’s markets (or Whole Foods!). My other inspiration is looking at food blogs (yours and Smitten Kitchen are my favorites) and sometimes cookbooks too.

  31. Haley says:

    I’m inspired to cook by the love of my mother. Corny, yeah?

    I’m in my last year of college 1500 miles away from home. I miss my mom. A lot. Any time I can work in the kitchen I am so reminded of the many hours my childhood self spent in the kitchen with my mom. When I get to go home for winter break, I love nothing more than to share new and old recipes with my mom. Food is our language. She is my inspiration.

  32. Sarah says:

    Cooking inspiration? I would have to say making people happy. I love finding out what people like, getting the perfect recipe, making it for them, and seeing their reactions. That is the best!

  33. Tartelette says:

    Awww. It’s official both my pupps are in love with your dog!! Well, Tippy is an 11 year old puppy but we won’t hurt his feelngs and tell him otherwise , right?!!
    All the women in my family have inspired my baking and cooking. Mom is a great savory cook and grandma was the baking force behind it all. Most importantly they always welcomed kids getting in the kitchen with them not matter how messy things would get.

  34. Elina (Healthy and Sane) says:

    I get inspirations from the Food Network, cooking magazines, other blogs and of course restaurants! When I taste a unique combination that makes me want to come back for more, I try to recreate it at home and maybe put my own spin on it. I cook because I love food and because I want me and my husband to be healthy (and cooking is an integral part of that).
    I love you blog, btw! It’s beyond inspirational both on the food and photography front!

  35. Joan B. says:

    Being retired and reading food blogs have been my inspiration in cooking. My dad was a good cook, and my mom had a few things she did well, but both my brother and I seem to have come to enjoy cooking later in life — or maybe it’s just we enjoy eating .

  36. Lan says:

    Jen, sorry to say but i am not much of a dog person, i just didn’t grow up around them. however, that picture of Kaweah is so precious!

    i’ve been a fan of cooking shows since i was a child. i remember Julia Child, the Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook. they inspired me then and i always did say i wanted to be a chef when i grew up. that didn’t happen, asian parents put an ix-nay on that quick. but i’ve always been OK in the kitchen and then this year… the food blogs! now *they* inspire me. i don’t need a degree or certificate that states i can cook … i’ll gladly take a “thanks” from friends and family instead.

  37. Katie says:

    Pictures! They don’t even have to be of food…but if they connect then thats usually enough to get me cooking. Thats why I love Saveur (and use real butter), food and location pictures – usually one or the other will get my mind working and I can come up with something decent after a long day. I’m sure I could be persuaded to enjoy a copy of Fine Cooking though :)

  38. Anna says:

    The American South. I live in Boston and think pork and corn are underused here, so I eat them constantly.

  39. Kelly says:

    Not growing up in a cooking household, I don’t get inspiration from memories or family – which is a huge shame. Easily most of my daily cooking inspiration comes from food blogs like yours, but also online recipe websites and cookbooks. Love the picture of Kaweah! He was/is a beautiful baby!

  40. Mary Coleman says:

    Inspiration comes from within, the growl of the tummy, the thought of a particular food, the need to do something creative with your hands.
    It also comes from ingredients at hand and the time you have to devote to it.
    The cookbooks, blogs, magazines and family you come in contact with whether it was that day or years before.
    So inspiration may set you to work on chili rubbed short ribs with risotto one night and may not show up the next.

  41. Diana Banana says:

    slap me with a cold, wet fish for being so cheesy, but love inspires my cooking. my most fantastic meals happen when i know i’m making something yummy for friends or family, or even when it’s just dinner for the boy and me. (Though sometimes he’s the victim of some unsuccessful experiments!) i find that i put much more thought, time and effort knowing that someone i love will be eating what i create. i think this all stems from my mother, because as you may well know, chinese people are always urging you to eat more. (and more and more and more, even though you’re about to explode)

    as for inspiring what i actually make, it’s really a mixture of what fresh produce i have on hand, as well as what i’ve observed on food blogs and what has been written up in restaurant reviews of fancy schmancy places. (i don’t go out to super nice places that often, as i’m not made of gold and i take more pleasure knowing i’ve made something myself.) i recently signed up for an organic produce delivery service that brings me all sorts of new goodies that i’ve never tried before. when i come across something new, i do a little bit of sleuth work and figure out common and uncommon ways to prepare it, and then do some improvising on my own.

  42. LineyHiney says:

    I’m inspired by my parents who banded together with 4 other couples back in the day to form a “Gourmet Dinner Club” (so ’70s.) Every couple of months the hosts would create a menu, mail it to the other couples to pique interest, and then would shape an entire evening (appetizers to music) around that menu. There was a lot of testing of new ingredients and recipe exploration that was far less common at the time, and always a celebration come the night of the meal.

    My other inspiration is good, whole food shared around a common table. It’s what inspired me to start growing my own in my tiny urban garden and what makes me want to defy the microwave/flavor pouch culture and figure out a way to make meals a source of healing and restoration. I love what happens when you gather people together and share the bounty of the earth instead of eating in the car on the way to whatever is next on the overfull calendar. It’s been a great way to enjoy the company of family and friends but also to build community in our neighborhood.

  43. Emmy says:

    Oh man, that is the cutest puppy picture ever. There should be a Kaweah calendar.

    I’d definitely count my family and friends as an inspiration. When I cook, I think of the people I’m cooking for and the atmosphere I want to have. If it’s a warm summer day and I’ve just had a hard week at work, I’ll drop by mom’s and make burgers for everyone. If I’m seeing an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time, I make snackies to go with a fantastic bottle of wine. If it’s winter and I’m feeling like a hermit, I’ll make a big batch of soup and eat it on the couch while watching bad TV. It’s kind of weird, but I’m a little obsessed with finding the perfect dish, perfect being “perfect for how I’m feeling that particular day.” It’s all about what will hit the spot, y’know?

  44. Nan says:

    I’ve been cooking for many years and I still don’t tire of it. I love planning meals, shopping for food and preparing it. I guess my inspiration comes from cookbooks, magazines and recently blogs. Another great source for inspiration is a farmer’s market or farm stand. I just buy what looks good and worry about how to use it later. That’s the fun part.

  45. t says:

    Though I rarely actually follow recipes to the letter, when I get in a cooking funk, I get inspired by flipping through cookbooks. (Mollie Katzen, and recently Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.) Since discovering tastespotting and then foodgawker and a number of food blogs (including this one!) going on line has also served as inspiration to try new recipes or riff on inspiring flavor combos. Farmer’s markets and good produce stores are also a tremendous inspiration….just poking around and seeing what looks good.

  46. peabody says:

    Ah yes, inspiration. I actually don’t subscribe to Food and Wine (not sure why). I love Cusine at Home magazine. As for me inspiration is so hard. It comes at different times from different sources. Lately it seems to come a lot though from eating out and not being satisfied with something. Or being satisfied but wanting to figure out how to make it at home.
    And OMG kaweah as a puppy was beyond adorable….like a little stuffed animal.

  47. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    Welcome to my psyche, Jen. I go through that same “blog block” cycle from time to time. It’s like I have a manic-depressive relationship with my own blog! Fortunately, when I acknowledge to myself that I am feeling overwhelmed, I’m usually able to relax a little and get my mojo back.

    For me, cooking is closely tied to my emotions and memories. After all, food is love! Certain foods make me think of certain things. Recapturing the warm and fuzzy memories of “the old days”, remembering loved ones that are long gone and perpetuating my family traditions are the things that inspire my cooking the most.

    Of course, I also find lots of inspiration from the many talented and creative food bloggers (like you) that I have had the pleasure of getting to know.

  48. Crystal says:

    Cookbooks inspire me a lot. I have all of Jamie’s, Nigella’s, and a couple Delia’s, and about twenty other randoms. I love watching cooking shows as well. Reading cookbooks is as inspiring to me as looking at the pictures. I love learning the differences in people’s approach to similar recipes and little tweaks in ingredients. I’m also very inspired by the people I cook for. When I learn what they’re certain tastes are, I love to introduce new things to them that I hope will blow them away! I love converting people to eating things they thought they didn’t like by making it in a way that they can’t resist. I also am very inspired by food blogs, especially yours! I discovered it a couple months ago and love coming here to read up on your adventures. It’s a pleasure to meet you on the net! xxx

  49. Lori says:

    My inspiration changes all the time. Sometimes it is Food Network, sometimes cookbooks; food bloggers (most recently the blogging world is my obsession); you; Cooking Light magazines; my Aunts and Mother. They go in phases really. I always go to the library and get a ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks are my constant I guess.

  50. Richelle says:

    My Mom and my Nana have been bakers for as long as I can remember. They make lots of yeast breads, which I don’t enjoy. Unlike them I LOVE trying new recipes. I have a small catering business that allows me to try many of the delicious recipes I find from food blogs and allrecipes. I have a few clients that love to be my guinea pigs!

  51. Kimberly says:

    My inspiration for cooking is rather base: eating. I love to eat, and never really appreciated the excellent meals my mother managed to crank out throughout my childhood until I went to college. After two years of whining, I began to teach myself to cook. With the help of some of my favorite food blogs (nudge, nudge) I am inspired to cook often, if for no other reason than I love to eat.

  52. Susy says:

    She’s so perfectly velvety black in that photo, what a cutie. She looks a lot like our chiots.

    My health inspires my cooking. I want to live to be a fiesty old lady that sill lives on her own in her 90’s, that requires hard work, lots of excercise and good healthy food (and eggs fried in bacon grease).

  53. Jackie says:

    I’m inspired to cook and bake for those around me. I love poring over great blogs and cookbooks for ideas, but ultimately there is no greater satisfaction than cooking for friends, family and loved ones, and seeing the happiness on their faces. Love for good food and company is universal, no?

  54. Susan says:

    I can barely remember when I wasn’t interested in all things Food. But I believe the inspiration for my love of cooking came from my grandmothers. I remember making an applesauce cake when I was a young girl with my grandmother’s help. This was to be served to “company” for a special dinner. My grandmother made sure that all the relatives gathered there knew that I had made the cake. They very graciously complimented me, praising the cake (maybe overly much); I never forgot the memory of that day and how happy it made me. I was hooked on cooking and anything to do with the subject forever.

    Kaweah is a beautiful puppy!

  55. Kelley says:

    Kaweah is perfect! My inspiration for cooking has come from all sorts of places. When I announced to the family that I was becoming a vegetarian at age 13, I was ready for war. (Chinese family) Instead my aunt gave me the most beautiful vegetarian cookbook I had ever seen. That’s what sparked it. Then a few years alter when I moved out to be on my own, I discovered that I truly love to shop for food and experiment with recipes. I was always clipping recipes and food articles from the newspaper. Now the discovery of food blogs combined with my wanting to provide the man I love with delicious, nutritious meals keeps me inspired all the time. Next project: attempt to cook and eat meat after 20 meatless years.

  56. Kai says:

    Delurking to tell you just how precious your puppy is!! I love her “all grown up” photos too, but this one of her as a puppy is TOO CUTE. Oh that face!!

  57. Michelle says:

    My cooking inspiration is my mom’s recipe book. It’s a small red spiral-bound index card notebook filled with recipes, some in English and some in Japanese. Some of the ones in English are even written in my careful 4th grade print. It inspires me because I love the juxtaposition of traditional recipes like her homemade teriyaki sauce mixed in with casserole recipes gleaned from camping club potlucks. There’s nothing fancy in there … just a lot of what I think of as my comfort foods.

  58. Tori says:

    My inspiration for cooking: that’s a loaded question.

    When I was younger I was only allowed to watch PBS and became a follower of Julia Child, at the age of six. I learned a lot from watching her and I also learned not to be scared in the kitchen. I didn’t have any of her books so I began cooking out of an old copy of “The Joy of Cooking”. My Dad was always okay with letting me get in the kitchen and attempt a recipe. He would watch and correct me if I needed it. I once used my milk cup to measure out a cup of water to put into a recipe and he was there to teach me about Pyrex measuring cups.

    He’s my other inspiration. My Dad was always a great cook and the older I got the more time we spent in the kitchen together. When we get together we talk about food and it bothers the hell out of my boyfriend but it’s what we like to do. My Dad’s been in the hospital for the past 6 months and instead of making him suffer through hospital food I cook for him a few times a week. He’s still giving me advice about my recipes even from a hospital bed.

  59. Madam Chow says:

    I agree with you about Fine Cooking – I LOVE that magazine, and I keep every issue. Another great one is Cusine, from August Home. Like Fine Cooking, it is a great source of inspiration for me.

    Other sources? Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, and definitely the food blogs. I am amazed at the talent, the creativity, and the enthusiasm out there!

  60. bee says:

    dear jen,
    there’s something for you here.


  61. Cindi says:

    I find that I am inspired by my mom and my hispanic culture. I also find myself inspired by all your great pictures of the food that you cook. I also love food gawker and other food blogs.

  62. Mollie says:

    I adore that picture of baby K!!!! So so sweet! I miss the puppy days… so sweet…

    We get fine woodworking at my house, but not find cooking… hrm… maybe time to change that.

    A lot of things inspire my cooking. It’s usually satiating my own cravings frankly. Sometimes those come from comfort foods remembered. And sometimes I find myself craving something I’ve never had, but imagine that the combination of flavors or textures would satisfy me. I do get inspired by food blogs and food shows and great chefs. It’s seeing those combinations, those ideas, and thinking about how I can make it mine.

    And sometimes I’m just hungry. :)

  63. Mike says:

    What inspires me? Usually my own stomach other times, it’s the ability to treat my friends to something nice, that I made myself =)

  64. Carmen says:

    my mom. :)

  65. Bonnie says:

    I am inspired by my Son who is a professional chef. He always told me that I inspired him to fulfill his dream of becoming a chef because of the way I cooked. Now, years later, he inpsires me (and teaches me more than he will ever know)….about cooking and life!

  66. cindy says:

    oh my, kaweah was just so cute i want to puke.

    and speaking of fine cooking…it got me through making the entire thanksgiving meal last year (specifically the brined turkey), all by myself for the very first time. i felt like a champ and i will forever be indebted.

  67. Anna says:

    Weekly dinner with friends who I love inspires cooking!

  68. Anjanette says:

    LUV the puppy pic! So adorable! So, just like quite a few of the other comments, I’d have to say my mother also inspired my cooking. But she didn’t inspire me with memories of cooking with her as i was growing up, or with wholesome meals, or even with her sense of adventure in the kitchen. No…no….my inspiration was born of necessity. It was the only way my father and I would get something somewhat healthy and tasty….that wasn’t a variation of meat and potatoes and didn’t come from a box or can. Don’t get me wrong, my mama could cook some things really well. She was a master of Puerto Rican food, even though she’s Native American. And she could make a mean pot roast. But she was a very picky eater and frankly, she hated cooking. My father and I were anything but picky. So, at about 14 or 15, I started cooking for my father and I. Mom took care of herself and my brothers. So, I guess I owe some thanks to my father as well. He allowed me to be adventurous, because even after a long day at work, I knew that he was going to eat whatever it was I created that evening….whether it was good or not, poor guy.

  69. zoe / puku says:

    OMG Kaweah is too cute! even as a pup she looks calm and wise! nom.

    inspiration for cooking comes in many many forms, but usually starts with an ingredient – some fresh produce, especially after a trip to the markets, and especially when we were in the tropics, you pick something lush up and have to take it home, so the brain ticks over “what can I do with this?” mentally flicking through memories of menus/meals eaten/cookbooks/magazines browsed/blogs read/photos seen.. until you formulate something tasty.

    next is kitchen gadgets, I’ll get on a roll with the mandoline or blender or pasta roller or dumpling press, and as you’re cooking one meal, the brain again goes “oh, next time I could do…” and the inspiration snowballs, trying to out-do the previous incarnation.

    yeah, and then other times I just get home from work and there is just zero inspiration, and it’s something very pedestrian like pasta with tomatoes/garlic/basil/parmigiana again!

  70. Martin says:

    Jennifer asks: What inspires your cooking?
    Oh, inspiration for cooking? I seem to find it everywhere I look. It can be the sights and smells of fresh vegetables at the market place, or the (to me) exotic and unknown bottles of sauces I find in a Chinese market. It can be the beautiful pictures of food I encounter in food blogs all over the internet (such as this) and it can be the old classic cuisine of Sweden I find in my mum’s old cooking magazines from the 70’s and 80’s. Imagine that there was a time when pasta was considered exotic food, and avocados were rare? Strange days.

    But if I would choose one thing that inspires my cooking, it would be the memories I have of my grand mother. She cooked the old fashioned way. By that I mean really hearty, and quite heavy traditional Swedish cooking. It meant not being stingy with the full cream or butter, but it also meant using really good produce, and being careful with what you cooked (and ate). The smell of my grand mother’s kitchen, the sunday dinners, the sauces she could conjure up and not the least her home made jams, lemonades and pickles! They were the best I’ve ever smelled or eaten. I wish that I can carry on the tradition of her generation and give some of that to my kids. I really try.

  71. wentong says:

    Grandma is a great source of inspiration, especially after my family moved in with her just a year ago. I don’t know if it’s a typically Asian thing (I’m Singaporean) or if everyone cooks like that, but she doesn’t use fixed recipes and prefer to go “a bit of this, and a pinch of that”. It gets hard to follow sometimes but I’m amazed at how she produces wonderful dishes each and every time.

    I’ve got a great deal to learn from her still, and while she cooks, I bake! It’s really fun when we learn from each other. I taught her how to use the oven, and I learn how to cook family favourites from her.

    The internet is full of great looking recipes that can inspire anyone to enter the kitchen too!

  72. Serene says:

    Hi – longtime lurker on your blog, which often makes me cry, because it’s so amazing and touching on so many levels. Love the pooch, too!

    Like many, mommy inspires my cooking. Having moved half the world away from her over 3 years ago I struggled to recreate that irreplaceable Chinese-family home-cooking I’ve known all my life. The soups, the stews, the stir-fries; stubbornly doing without a rice-cooker because I can’t really afford the expense right now while doing grad-school (while using pots and pans donated by a kind neighbour). Ill and homesick in the middle of winter I’d drag myself over to the fridge to dig up day-old chicken, and to the stove to boil up congee I think she’d be proud of. And mommy would call me and ask, “what did you make for dinner tonight?”

    I try to select vegetables and meat the way I remember her doing it when I followed her to the market when I was a kid. Having arguments with my boyfriend over adding the garlic first – or last, to the stirfry, and winning, because “that’s how my mom does it!” and having it smell and taste SO GOOD. The look on my mom’s face the first summer I came back and telling her my cooking was “good, but not the same” as hers, because hers was more special. I want to cook like mommy does! But I think it’ll take a lifetime.

  73. Sharon says:

    I have to say that I didn’t really appreciate food and cooking until I moved away to college and had to learn how to feed myself. I definitely took my mom’s Chinese cooking for granted. Seeing the fabulous farmer’s market in my college town made me appreciate beautiful, fresh local produce and learn how to cook dishes that didn’t come from a box. I started with recreating my mom’s dishes and now I’ve expanded to other cuisines It’s always great to taste something great that you made yourself from ingredients you handpicked.

  74. JMc says:

    Well, lately your blog has been the source of some of my cooking inspiration. But before blogging, a combination of thrift and family inspires my cooking. I revel in the ‘what can I make with ingredients left over from X,Y and Z’ and have found myself to have come back to the hippie slow food cooking style I was raised on. I would say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but its best to pick them before they drop!

  75. Beth says:

    My grandmother…neither of my parents were really any good in the kitchen, so the most gourmet meals I got growing up were her holiday spreads. She entertained my grandfather’s fellow Foreign Service officers for decades in various countries/cultures, so she always came up with something interesting.

  76. Amy says:

    Cooking inspiration? Easy, my mother! I have to hand it to a lady who at 21 could (and still can!) whip up a meal for over a hundred people without breaking a sweat.

  77. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    three-fold: my family (my child and the desire for her to taste the things that I did from my grandmothers and mother and the desire that she love food and have a healthy relationship with food), to nourish my family (food is really the way my family shows love and so it is how I show love) and then the desire to travel if only through my meals (with money as it is, we don’t travel much anymore, so food is one way for us to travel.)

  78. Jessica says:

    I’m inspired by my childhood of speaking japanese and learning about the culture as well as my family’s obsession with good food.

    And now I mainly bake cookies, because they’re tasty.

  79. Chris says:

    Oh dear, the cuteness.

    I’m inspired by my mother, who cooked for everyone, and my dessert-obsessed fiancee who randomly decides we’re baking 8-10 dozen treats every few weeks or so.

  80. Carol says:

    kaweah is so cute !! so lovable !!

    I am inspired by lovely food blogs like Use Real Butter…the wonderful photos and writing makes me want to cook/bake asap !! second is food magazines that have beautiful photos….yeah..i am a visual person/cook/baker….i hope you keep blogging for a very long time…..i enjoy your writing and photos tremendously…

    food sustaines us, nurtures us, is essential to us….but cooking is a joy that is never-ending….

  81. Peggasus says:

    My mother, for starters. As a 50s bride, she didn’t know how to cook a thing when she got married, and she determined that no daughter of hers would suffer the same fate (but strangely enough, NOT her three sons). From age ten on, I had to cook a dinner once a week, and it could be anything anyone requested. Apple pie? Learn to make a crust. Beef stew? Brown the meat AND make the biscuits. I especially hated Fridays during Lent (no meat for Catholics) when I had to peel, devein, and bread mounds of shrimp. Do you know how much shrimp a family of six can eat? A LOT. My brothers have all turned out to be above-average cooks as well, so I guess they did pick some stuff up. We trade recipes and food talk all the time. Another major influence was the year I spent in Italy after college. It remains my favorite cuisine, and as it teaches, I try to cook as freshly as possible.

    In a blatant suck-up, we used to have a black lab, too! They are the cutest puppies ever!

  82. Amy says:

    OH my goodness, Kaweah is adorable in the pictures you normally post of her, but this one???!?! Over the top, melts my heart into a big puddle of puppy love. I want a puppy like Kaweah. :)

    For me, my inspiration really comes from the area we live in…the local farmers in the Finger Lakes are just a dream come true to me. To live in an area where I can get such a great variety of local produce, meats, cheeses, etc…I just adore it!! To be able to cook with the seasons and have good quality seasonal produce actually available within a 30 mile radius, especially in the Northeast, is awesome. :)

  83. Raecheal says:

    Doesn’t the pic of Kaweah just make you swoon to remember the smell of puppy breath? That pic makes me want to go right out and get a lab puppy- our dachshund is darling but hard to romp around the beach with (we live in Virginia Beach, VA and the dog is afraid of the ocean- silly dog).

    What inspires me to cook… three things; what is fresh and in season (especially if it is from our garden!), reading food websites and blogs- I have made many, many of the recipes you’ve posted and they all turn out amazing!, and last, but not least, my darling husband. He is from Hawaii and has turned me onto an entirely different style of cooking.

  84. Gina M says:

    My inspiration comes from 2 things, my family and food blogs. I love making things my family likes to eat and my mother and grandmothers have given me great memories of good food. Food Blogs gives me great visuals and great new recipes to see and try out.

  85. Jessicca says:

    By no means am I a SUPERB chef, but I do love cooking and creating new meals. But honestly, nothing satisfies me more than having the person that I cooked for take their first bite, look at me, and say “Wow this is so good.” It just doesn’t get much better than that!

  86. Kathy says:

    My Dad liked to cook and was not afraid to experiment in the kitchen; that alone had a great influence on me. I am constantly looking at a recipe and trying to see (after several testings) if it can be improved. Since he died in 2004, I have become even more of a cook/baker not only in honor of him, but because of him. Cooking/baking is also extremely theropeutic for me because it lifts me up, and makes me smile thinking of him in the kitchen. He is my inspiration.

  87. Nicole says:

    I’m inspired by many things, and a love of experimenting is in my blood (my gramps fancied himself quite the gourmet, I was always able to get my fill of food porn from his huge collection of back issues of Gourmet Mag.) Recently I’ve been getting lots of inspiration from the food blogs, but mostly my Ukrainian/Italian/German heritage and also a *huge* addiction to Mexican foods.

  88. Laura says:

    First off, Kaweah is so adorable!

    My cooking inspiration comes mostly from my mom. She cooked a meal every night so we could sit down as a family and eat dinner. Most of her recipes I can duplicate from memory.

    I get inspiration to make new recipes from food blogs. Pictures are the biggest inspiration for me. If there’s not a picture, you can bet I won’t be making it.

    Being in graduate school is also an inspiration to let my mind relax and focus on something else, which is why in the last few years, I’ve really begun to expand my culinary repertoire.

  89. KatieC says:

    NUH UH! Why she so damn cute?

    For the ski trip you’re taking to Utah this year, I’m officially requesting that you DRIVE, so that PrettyK can come, too. She and Arnie can snuggle and snooze by the fire while we rip it up.

  90. Sarah says:

    Is it ok to say my belly inspires me?

    I don’t really have any really memorable childhood experiences involving food…in fact, I’m pretty sure I was one of those kids who wouldn’t eat anything…but I’ve had to grow to love a lot of different things after becoming a vegetarian. So, I cook because I love to eat…good, healthy food that even my meat loving boyfriend will enjoy. I love cooking for people I love, and I love the feeling of eating something fresh & delicious.

    Beautiful food pictures, farmers markets, & grocery stores with lots of fresh ingredients help too!

    I forgot to say that cute picture of Kaweah is making me kind of worry I didn’t take enough pictures of my pup in the early days! :)

  91. Erin says:

    I have to admit, I’ve been lurking at your blog for a while… ever since someone sent me a link for one of your recipes.. and I haven’t been able to stop reading since! Thanks for doing such a great job!

    I grew up in Ukranian family, watching my mom and my baba cook all the time.. spent many summers at our (now) 100 year old farm in Saskatchewan, Canada… and saw my baba cook over a wood stove for many years… established a great love of cooking *good* food for me and my family!

  92. Danielle says:

    I became inspired to cook after my family and I moved out to the country and I no longer had access to many of my favorite eats. I used to read every food mag I could get my hands on, watch any (pre-FoodNetwrk) cooking show I could find, read recipes on websites (at the time there were very few) and started collecting and reading cookbooks (my collection is in the 6-700 range) and of course Emeril and Food Network when they came on the scene. What an amazing journey it has been!

  93. Sarah says:

    Reading about food and cooking gets me into the kitchen. I am inspired by blogs, magazines, cook books, new articles…any food writing gets my brain working. The produce section at the grocery store is a close second.

  94. Chris says:

    The possibility of making others happy, if only for a few minutes, inspires my cooking.

  95. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    The New World Encyclopaedia of Cooking, 1970. It belonged to my aunt and she gave it to my when I got married together with a book on baking – the title escapes me at this moment. They were her very first cookbooks and she brought them over to my parent’s house a few days before the wedding because she knew I was packing for Italy. “These aren’t a wedding gift” she said. “They’re a little old fashioned, but I thought you would appreciate them”. The photographs and illustrations are cheesy and some of the dishes are real blasts from the past, but it is my *go to* reference book and has inspired many a creation. Plus, my aunt gave it to me!

  96. Andrea says:

    I am inspired most by the change of seasons. I keep binders of recipies clipped from magazines organized by month and I am always so excited when the seasons change and I can pull down the next binder from the shelf.

  97. Patricia Scarpin says:

    My curiosity would be one thing, Jen. Blogging has opened my eyes to so many recipes and ingredients I’d never tried before. And there are many more still!

  98. chefsheree says:

    Memories of my aunt putting together incredible family get togethers and all the food(especially the sweets) were wonderful. I try to follow in her footsteps and our house is the place to be for the holidays and all family celebrations. Jen, you are amazing!

  99. Beth says:

    That is one cute puppy!

    Hmmm…what inspires my cooking. I’d have to say reading foodie books does it for me. Not necessarily the latest and trendiest, either. At the moment I’m reading M.F.K. Fisher’s “With Bold Knife and Fork”. Her descriptions of luxuries during times of scarcity are particularly compelling in light of our current economic times.

  100. Amy says:

    First time commenter… long time reader (nothing like a give-a-way to bring us lurkers out of the woodworks!). I LOVE your blog, fyi!

    Anyway… my inspirations these days come from blogs a lot of the time. I love seeing what other people are making and creating!

  101. rose says:

    i was raised and born in chinese family of hakka descent in sumatra, indonesia with paternal grandmother who constantly took cooking as experiment of trial error and trying to incorporate her strong liking for dutch cooking with flair of island and southern chinese food.
    growing up watching my grandmother cooking and followed by my mom trying to replicate my grandmother’s cooking added with her own style and taste bud brought us all to a different level in judging the meals put on the table by these wonderful women.

    my two older sisters and i have different ideas on how to create and replicate dishes, and we all came out with our own best dishes to boast!

    the test came when i got married and came to the US and had to cook, that’s challenging being not able to find a lot of ingredients. but i remember the first thing my hubby did was to get me a wok and a rice cooker! that’s comforting…

    so now i am sort of experimenting between whipping up different kind of food from your blog and use whatever ingredients i have in the fridge before venturing out to the groceries.
    love kaweah’s cute face, what an adorable puppy!

  102. Pamela M says:

    My mom was a stay-at-home mom most of the time I was growing up, and whenever possible, she made sure the whole family was together at dinnertime to share a home-cooked meal. She is my inspiration because on any given day, at any given time, there is always something she can whip up out of the contents of our fridge, freezer, or pantry. I can’t ever remember her having to run out at the last minute to go to the grocery store because she was out of something and couldn’t make do with what she had.

    And she never worked from a recipe, either. I don’t understand that “taste-and-see” school of cooking. I’m the kind of person that needs to know quantities and measurements, at least to start. She just … makes things… without a recipe… without measurements… without guidance or training. If you want to learn how to make something like she does, you just have to go through it with her… several times and hope you pick it up and figure things out. I can only hope to one day be as good as she is in the kitchen.

  103. Kate says:

    Family gatherings (on both sides) always centered around food – my father’s side around Appalachian farmhouse cooking, while my mother’s side was southern Atlantic coastal (what Paula Deen SHOULD be cooking but isn’t). Somehow in highschool, all the cooking died off except for special occasions… and then I got out on my own and experienced Malay, sushi, curry… all of it. Now I realize what food can do, what it can be… and I want to do it myself. So I do.

  104. Lulu says:

    I love reading about what other people are cooking, cookbooks, auto-biographies of cooks (which are a lot like cookbooks, but with fewer recipes and more anecdotes), food blogs of course, my own recipe collection with recipes from my Mom, or my notes on things that worked and didn’t. I was going through my old recipe card box from when I was a kid and found a recipe for blackbottoms that I thought had been lost to the ether.

    The other side of the inspiration coin is the Feeding Urge thing. Where I want the people eating what I’m making to enjoy it, so thinking about what people like (particularly my sweetie), and how I can fit that into the next food week is part of the whole equation.

  105. ThistleDew Farm says:

    Do we have to pick one thing that inspires us to cook? A crisp fall day inspires me to make something with apples. Snow inspires me to make soup. Spring sunshine makes me want to make something fruity. Reading a recipe with interesting ingredients will tempt me to get in the kitchen. Seeing a really beautiful picture of the results of someone elses kitchen adventure can inspire me to attempt it.

    Wanting to make a memory with a really good meal to commemorate a special event inspires me to cook.

    A growling tummy inspires me to cook!

  106. Irene says:

    I find inspiration in many places: memories of food as a child, experiences from travel to foreign and domestic (US) places, reading about food in magazines, books, and blogs (like this one!), talking about food with friends and family. I think about food constantly, from what I’ll be having for lunch to what desserts I should bake for Thanksgiving.

    Thanks for keeping the creative spirits flowing with your wonderful blog!

  107. Ellen says:

    Inspiration, a lot of the times, comes from my attempts to replicate Mom’s cooking. You’d think that replicating the taste of something stir-fried or very lightly sauteed with ginger and/or garlic would be simple…if only. Thankfully, the college I attend is close so home, so I like to hop over home a lot to try and figure out my mom’s variation on the lion head meatballs.

    The other half of the time, inspiration is outright hunger and lack of anything in my fridge.

  108. Cindy says:

    My inspiration comes from memories of my Mother’s food. At 85, she still cooks and continues to inspire. Lucky me!

  109. Bri says:

    The simplest answer to what inspires me is the food blogging community. My mom was severely constrained in her cooking by what dad would eat, so I have tried to branch out a bit from the things I learned to cook growing up. The best source of inspiration are blogs like yours that have lovely pictures. I’m a visual person too, so seeing pictures of finished dishes on people’s blogs inspires me to cook far more than flipping endlessly through cookbooks (the step by step pictures don’t hurt either when I’m trying something new and am nervous about screwing it up). So thanks for all you do Jen, I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into your sites.

    p.s. Kaweah is adorable. Then, now, always.

  110. Nate says:

    Kaweah inspires our cooking LOL

    We love Fine Cooking – I think every dish we’ve cooked out of it has been a winner.

  111. Annie says:

    Forget the magazine…I want Kaweah! Just to borrow for a week to cuddle to death. What a cutie!
    Seriously, FC is also one of my favorite mags. Matter of fact, I have one in front of me as I type. Funny huh? The sad thing is I just let my subs lapse bec I wanted to make sure I start cooking from all the ones I have (DH complains about how I hardly use them–so not true!). Maybe now, I’ll have a reason to start again.

    Oops, forgot to say what inspires my cooking–definitely cookbooks and magazines with drool-worthy pics (yes, I’m on your camp about visuals too). Also, just missing the foods from home (being far away gives you that incentive). And finally, for financial reasons–cooking at home is just cheaper than eating out and so I try to make our meals as good as or better than eating out.

  112. Toni says:

    I’m a food magazine and cookbook whore and I’m sad to say that I’ve never seen Fine Cooking before! I’d love to check it out for some inspiration!

  113. Jo says:

    Hey, long time lurker here, but I love your blog and Kaweah is so cute!

    Eating together and baking with my family inspires me to cook…nothing out of the ordinary, but we always ate together, and my favourite was baking cookies on a rainy day. My mother was one of those moms whose life mission was to feed everyone, and I think I’ve inherited that from her! Now that I’ve moved out of home, food blogs and memories of food inspires me to try new things. Back at home, it was all about the taste, but now I want to make fabulous food that looks great, photographs well (Teehee) and will make people happy =)

  114. Mrs Ergül says:

    I took my time with this comment cuz I wanna write something meaningful! So here it goes…

    my current insipration comes from Foodgawker and the gorgeous photos simply blow me away. But, if not for my mum, I will never be so keen in cooking (and baking). My mum is a great cook of Chinese food and only Chinese food. Because of the hardwork she puts into every dish to fill up her family’s stomach, I’m greatly inspired to do the same. Yesterday she came over and tried the bread and muffins I baked. She also saw what I did for Oct Daring Bakers’ challenge. Although she did not put it blatantly, she never does, I know she is proud of the of woman and wife I turned out to be from a rather rebellious teenager.

    So while pretty photos from food magazines and food sites set me thinking, the drive I have comes from my role model – my mother.

  115. Laura says:

    I get my inspiration from different cultures, books, and magazines.

  116. Irene Kartika says:

    Cook books and food blogs are my main inspiration for cooking. But eating out (in restaurants, cafe, etc.) also aroused me to experience cooking food that I found delicious. Other inspiration would be my kids. As I want them to eat yummy and healthy food as much as possible, without feeling bored to eat the same thing over again.
    Kaweah is so cuteeee! Send my kisses for her.

  117. Anna says:

    As a college student, my diet is, unconventional, to say the least. Granola bars, crackers, orange juice, and a lot of coffee make up 2/3 meals in my day. But every once in a while, after a difficult midterm or paper, I like to reward myself, and coincidentally my friends, by making a big feast. What I make depends on what I have on hand in my fridge and what’s on sale at the local grocery store, but my biggest inspiration is walking by the “Asian Ghetto” (a mini complex with many different restaurants – Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, donut shops, boba tea houses, Middle Eastern food) and drooling over the big colorful posters posted on the window of these restaurants. Food in Berkeley isn’t cheap for a college student, so I instead of going to a restaurant to buy food, I stroll by to look at the pictures and, essentially, pick out the next recipe to make. Thanks to the power of the internet, I usually find a recipe that fits whatever ingredients I have available. But even then, I’ve never been good at following directions. I tend to use less sugar,salt and oil in everything I make, but I always double the onions and garlic because those are my favorite flavors. Thai Fried Rice goes for nearly $7 a plate at the local Thai restaurant, but now I can just make three times as much of my own fried rice for the same price. And, I get the added benefit of the therapeutic and stress-relieving effects of cooking.

  118. Manisha says:

    117? OMG. What are my odds? I shouldn’t say I never win anything but when it’s Lady Luck, we don’t seem to meet very often.

    Inspiration? Gad. I hate to cook. And I love to cook. I hated the drudgery of cooking every day and in the days gone by, even 4 meals a day (4th would be the afternoon snack with tea). When my Mom became completely confined to her bed, we became a team. She would tell me what to do and I would run between the kitchen and her bedroom shouting: “ok, what next?” Or “dammit, the oil got too hot cos you took too long to tell me what I need to throw into it – what should I do now?” Or “Mom, I was on the phone, I forgot, it’s not really edible anymore. Order take-out?” I still did not care for it much but together we ensured that she got the nutrition she needed and I fed her beets, spinach and anything with iron in it to keep her hemoglobin levels up. She inspired me to keep at it and I learned a great deal in the process.

    After I lost her, cooking was not fun. I preferred to let my cook take over, after I taught her all I knew. It was only after my daughter was born that things changed. She eats better and healthier when we eat at home. She has started exploring new flavors and even makes attempts to cook herself. So while we’re not quite there, I may have a team again.

    For now, I cook for me. It’s therapy. Measuring the ingredients, washing veggies or dals, stirring, tasting. Very satisfying. Clean up? Not. :-D

    PS I’m not much of a dog person but that puppy pic of Kaweah blew me away! Maybe that should be a consolation prize!

  119. Christine says:

    ok, I’m going to put myself out there… I cook to seduce my husband. The way to his heart is definitely through his stomach. Although he has learnt to say, “Hello dear how was your day” before “what’s for dinner?” when he comes home. He appreciates everything I cook, from pancakes to simple salads to curries & pratas.

    So making my hubby happy is my inspiration, and he enourages me to try all sorts of cuisines, so I might be getting a Tagine for Christmas! Fingers crossed.

  120. Cynthia says:

    Let’s have three barks for puppies!

    My inspiration is simple actually, Gardening and Family. I actually have my wintering tomatoes hanging root-end- up in the garage (13 plants… the neighbors thought I had lost my mind while I was hauling them in before the frost). I will be picking fresh tomatoes for at least another month. I am a preserving fanatic. You grow it, I will dehydrate, can, pickle, freeze, or saute it up now. My daughter just brought home a gorgeous 20 pound winter squash. OOOH the possiblities….

    The family…it goes without saying that NO ONE ever complains, except when dinner goes unmade because I am canning something.

  121. Dragana says:

    When my kids were little, they inspired me to become a good cook, with an emphasis on fresh and healthy, versus fast and easy. I also introduced them to the cuisines of the world.
    They are in college now, and I have had time to read cooking blogs and I am inspired mostly by YOUR blog and YOUR life experiences. Your honesty, brilliant writing, photographs and attitude are admirable.
    Keep up the good work – Dragana.

  122. Elizabeth says:

    I have been inspired by a past meal that I wished to recreate. (the noodles in Rome when I was 19 that I have yet to replicate) I have been inspired by walking thru the produce department at the store. (Baked Sweet Onions) When I was a child my mother would read cookbooks. I thought this was a very odd thing until I grew up and found myself reading cookbooks. I have found the food porn sites, Tastespotting and Food Gawking, to be inspiration on steroids. The pictures really ramp up the excitement.

    Thanks for the chance to tell you a little bit about ourselves. So glad you seem to have leveled out on the physical maladies and malfunctions. You have to be in fighting shape for the slopes!
    (I am living vicariously thru you on those slopes ;)

    God’s best to you,


  123. Anna says:

    I am mostly inspired by my huge collection of cookbooks. I like to have cookbooks with food from different parts of the world and as I look through all the amazing photos and recipes it always drives me to try something fun and new in the kitchen.

  124. Margaret says:

    I am inspired by the common things…meals I’ve eaten, recipies I’ve read, food shows I’ve watched. But more importantly, I’m inspired by the love of food that my parents instilled in me, from the fresh clams my father harvested with his toes at 6am on low tide days at Jones Beach, or the perfect lasagna that my Irish borm mother made, to the Sunday dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas.

    I am further inspired to pass that love of food and cooking onto my 14y/o daughter who loves to learn to cook and to bake and is willing to try most everything, even once. Seeing her face light up when she tells me she cooked a quick meal of chicken and rice and salad for her friends after school tells me it’s working!

  125. Bobbie says:

    First of all I have to say, I love your blog! This is the first time I have had the nerve to write anything though… Your pictures are beautiful, and the food you present is amazing.

    I would have to say my inspiration comes in many forms. First and foremost, my mother is my inspiration. Her traditional recipes were what sparked my interest in food, and cooking. She has also inspired me to never take the easy route, which may be why I detest store bought/boxed anything! Secondly, my inspiration comes from cookbooks. I see myself as a collector of sorts, and will often peruse them for new ideas and starting off points. My husband gets frustrated with me because I tend to pick up any food magazine that I see, and has put a limit on my magazine purchases to 2 a month. Lastly, I would say bloggers such as yourself are a great inspiration to me. I would love to one day write about my food adventures, and hope to have a following even remotely close to yours.

    Thanks for all the work you put in!

  126. Holly says:

    I just can’t get over how cute she looks there!!! It is unreal! Random things inspire me to cook, but I’ve noticed mostly it has to do with the season or ingredients available lately. I love looking at lots of different things for inspiration, but I think my main source of inspiration is my family and traditions – either old ones or new ones. I have really noticed that food plays a huge part in our traditions – both the ones I learned from my parents and the new ones I am trying to create with my family. I seem to build memories around foods, so I guess tradition and my family during the different seasons is what inspires me. It was picnics this summer and now it is fall foods – cider, pumpkin, spice, etc. I’m not sure what I’ll start feeling like when it gets to be Winter here.

  127. Elis says:

    Oh my goodness, she is too cute for her own good.

    I am inspired by love, silly as that sounds. My family expresses affection through food, so to me any and all food is a way to tell another person (or myself) that I care about them. That’s enough to get me into the kitchen any day.

  128. Wendy says:


    Gorgeous pup. :)

  129. Eva says:

    I’m not so much of a cook but more of a baker which definitely comes from churning out loads of baked goods for my family each weekend starting from age 12. Living in a village surrounded by fruit orchards and strawberry fields, the change of the seasons would naturally make me think of all the things to create from that bounty.
    So my love for all things sweet was well developed from an early age; and only when moving out from home, I turned to cooking as one can’t live on sweets alone… Having moved from Germany to Australia, I love to discover all the other culinary traditions that are now open to me – besides browsing cookbooks and foodblogs. However, whenever I feel slightly homesick or just a little moody, I try to recreate the taste of home…

  130. Wendy Y says:

    I never really got into the whole cooking scene until I started reading food blogs online…love your pictures by the way…anyway, seeing as I have 3 kids, I always tended to make whatever was easiest as I was dashing off to football practice with this one, or cheerleading with that one. Now, however, since reading these blogs, I have started to really play with different ingredients and the kids are pretty happy about the bigger dinners too! So, long story short, food blogs have been my cooking inspiration.

  131. Jo says:

    My first inspiration comes from the faces of friends and family members who get to try out my recipes. It gives me the greatest pleasure especially when they say it taste great and even if not, it gives me inspiration to try the recipe out again to find out what had gone wrong. My 2nd inspiration comes from all the food blogs that I have been gawking at … the pictures and the recipes posted out there makes me want to recreate their achievements.

  132. Tami says:

    My first food memory is of mom in the kitchen cooking up something delicious while I sat in my highchair, eyes wide and taking it all in. From there, it went to family holiday dinners and then having family and friends over. I know love to feed the people I love and have been known to invite them over for the sheer pleasure of being able to feed them and use them as my guinea pigs for the different recipes I’d like to try. I love to read every cook book (especially the older ones) I can get my hands on, I devour magazines, browse the cooking websites and blogs on the internet, and sharing recipe ideas with friends and family. I also love to go out into the garden and let it help me to create a new delicious recipe. Inspiration is everywhere, it just depends on my mood and what is in season…or than that, the sky’s the limit!

  133. Kath says:

    I love food, though I haven’t gotten to do that much cooking in my life. Until recently, I had been living somewhere where ingredients didn’t come to hand easily, which stifled my cooking anything by quite a bit. Now, I’m living with a friend with a cramped little kitchen, walkable distance from a 24-hour grocery store, and a budget that doesn’t allow take-out very often. I love it. I love being able to cook. I get most of my inspiration from places such as Tastespotting and foodgawker, as they make great food blogs and recipes very accessible, as well as showing me pretty pictures (which I am a huge sucker for). I always get to try new recipes now and am slowly building up my cooking skills.

  134. Bell says:

    Awww… Kaweah is absolutely adorable… Makes me want to chew her ears! LoL

    As for cooking inspiration… I have a mission. I’m of Asian origin but grew up overseas, and it’s just so hard to have “authentic tasting” food. And many restaurants I enjoyed eating at as a teenager serve (only now I realise) under par “authentic” dishes… or as my mother called it “cheating the white people!”. I learned a limited number of home meals from mum but as I married and moved away, it was harder and harder to find new things to cook and eat. I began to crave not only my mother’s home cooked meals but international foods too, like Korean, Chinese, American?, Japanese, Thai etc. I made it my mission to learn to cook, not from packets, cans and pre-made mixed foods but one day I will learn to cook all of my favourite meals from scratch… for example grinding my own spices for a curry!

    I spend much of my free time trawling the interwebs for recipes and I have to say I often come here for inspiration :) and pretty pictures of course ;)

  135. Melamalie says:

    My cooking is inspired very simply by my mood that day. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might try something outside the realm of my “white” upbringing – Indian curry, perhaps? If I just need some comfort from the cold, I’d do what I did last night and make a nice hearty, warm chili. Usually I’m not so good with the prior-planning, so I just do what I feel like doing that day. :)

  136. Stephanie says:

    I’m inspired by lots of things. My mom taught me to cook at a young age, so she continues to be an inspiration. I’m also inspired by those that I am cooking for. I get so much joy out of people’s enjoyment of my food. Other people’s blogs and food also inspires me as well and help me to continue to work on and perfect my skills.

  137. Linh says:

    My inspiration for cooking comes mostly from the farmers’ market. It never fails to make me happy and sets my mind planning on what to make with it when I see beautiful seasonal produce.

  138. Wendy C says:

    My German friend’s mother’s cooking when I was a little kid, and my mother’s fancy dessert cookbook with the beautiful photos. There was food out there other than boiled potatoes and salt cod with pork scraps!! ( It’s a maritime thing) These things started my love of food and cooking and baking and I haven’t stopped.

  139. Andrea says:

    My mom first inspired me to cook. I loved helping her out with desserts and big meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was always full of encouragement and complements. My cooking knowledge and curiosity began to expand while I worked in a fine dining restaurant during college. Most recently I’ve discovered the food blogging world and love to look at blogs such as yours! Thanks for all your posts!

  140. Kitt says:

    Heavens, that’s a lot of inspired people! I was thinking about your question all week and just poured out a bit of it in a blog post (hey, ready-made topic!). I had a good grounding in good eating, with a mom who likes to cook and a dad who loved to eat out, but didn’t really get inspired to cook until I’d been in China for a while and was HUNGRY for something other than Chinese cafeteria food. Started learning the basics and finally got to where I could feed myself decently. (The cleaver is still my knife of choice.)

    Nowadays, seeing all the great home-cooking on blogs is my biggest inspiration. If THEY can do it, surely I can too!

    Thanks for being part of that inspiration.

  141. LyB says:

    Is there a case of “the funk” going around, or what? I’ve felt that way for a while now, but I try to get inspired by thinking of my grandfather who was a cook on boats and my grandmother who cooked in a logging camp. No time for a case of “the funk” there! I also get inspired by reading blogs, I just wish there were more hours in a day so I could read and comment a lot more! :)

  142. Regina says:

    My family – Mom, Dad, little sis, and canine little bro. We love to eat good food together, whether we’re out at a restaurant or experimenting with a new recipe at home.

  143. Home with Mandy says:

    What inspires me to cook? I cook because I love to feed people. I love the way they turn to me and say, “you made this? this is amazing?”

  144. Amanda says:

    I am inspired to cook by my desire to eat really good food. I think if you love eating great food you eventually wind up learning to make some!

  145. Valerie says:

    First, I must say that the puppy picture is simply adorable! I want to hug him and squeeze him and call him George! Ahem.

    Now, cooking inspiration. I’m kind of unusual in that respect. I didn’t learn to cook until I was about 37 – yes, that’s right, a good 20+ years of eating out, heating up frozen meals and cooking out of a box. Then, while unemployed for the longest time of my life (lots of time to watch TV), I started watching Food Network and after a while, started thinking “I could do that.” And guess what? I was right! So my inspiration comes from everywhere, everywhere I see interesting recipes and ideas – from restaurants, magazines, TV shows, etc. I see some fabulous picture and I think “Ooh! Gotta try that!”

    Doesn’t hurt when other people tell me I cook well. A little ego stroking is always good for getting more goodies. ;)

  146. emily says:

    I grew up in a family where everyone cooked. My siblings and I were so accustomed to it that we happily experimented on our own whenever we had a chance — mostly baking when there were no other sweets on hand. My first real cooking inspiration as a grownup, however, was the copy of Joy of Cooking that my mother gave me for Christmas my first year out of college. I read the whole thing cover to cover like a book and have never looked back. Now I continue to turn to it first when looking for a recipe; though my repertoire is well supplemented by Julia Child, miscellaneous other cookbooks, magazines and of course the wealth of recipes and ideas to be found online.

  147. Patti says:

    My inspiration is my coookbook library. It’s enormous. In a good way.

  148. Leah says:

    Everyone else in my family is a wonderful cook, so I didn’t start cooking until I found myself living alone in college without Mom, Dad, or sister to cook for me. I find inspiration from many things: cookbooks, friends and family, and most often cooking blogs such as yours.

  149. sharon says:

    My mom has always been my cooking inspiration. I grew up sitting at the kitchen bar and watching her whip up exotic foods that none of my other friends had heard of. I always wanted mashed potatoes and hamburgers, but now I fully appreciate the steamed bao I grew up eating! :)

  150. Christina says:

    I discovered cooking blogs just about 6 months ago and have become an avid follower. Every day they inspire me to try something new. Mmmm. I’m trying your white bean chili tonight.

  151. Eric says:

    Fine Cooking is an awesome magazine. I’m in for one.

  152. Carole says:

    My husband is Korean and I really became obsessed with food and cooking when I discovered the Korean cuisine. I love all Asian food but I am especially fond of Korean food and could easily eat it every day. I make my own kimchi every other week and cannot imagine not having any in the fridge.
    Another inspiration for me are food blogs. I spend hours every week drooling over new pictures and new recipes. There are some really talented people out there.
    I keep track of tons of different food blogs but yours is definitely my favorite! It makes my day when I see a new post on your site…I hope you will never stop posting. Thanks for all the fantastic pictures and recipes!

  153. Nic says:

    No one in my family cooks like I do. My mother (who cooked dinner for us every night along with everything else she was doing) was more of a hamburger helper kinda gal. But when I was 8 and decided I wanted vanilla pudding, I grabbed her Joy of Cooking cookbook and just went from there! These days I cook to create a whole atmosphere of love and togetherness, the opportunity that only comes when bonding over delicious, real food.

  154. Lee says:

    The people I’m cooking for are almost always the ones who inspire me. If it’s just for me, the food may be delicious but I don’t usually worry so much about how it looks, if it’s perfectly seasoned…etc. It’s when you’re making it for somebody you like that it becomes special.

  155. marcie says:

    My boyfriend Jeff he will always try anything i make even its terrible!

  156. Judith says:

    Haha, my Daddy used to always have Fine Homebuilding lying around, but Fine Cooking is more my style ;-)

    I was inspired to cook by the old PBS cooking shows. Granted, there are some very bad cooking shows out there, but I always thought the people who cooked on TV were such superstars. I wanted to be able to makes something really fancy and impressive like them, and now I kind of can.

  157. Liana says:

    I moved out of southern California three years ago to a very ‘white’ city. To kill my craving for Asian food, I started to cook. Found your blog while searching for some Chinese food recipes. Thank you so much for sharing. Hopefully one day I will perfect my cooking skill, because my poor husband deserves to eat better.

  158. Laurinha says:

    My family (husband, daughter and son) inspires me! I do my best to make their/our meals deliciuos, even if sometimes I need to do it in a hurry… :DD
    It will be a huge pleasure to have Fine Cooking here! We live in Brazil and foreigner publications are too expensive for me…. And Fine Cooking is, definitely, the best one! They say that Fine Cooking is ‘for people who love to cook’, so, it is perfect for me!

  159. Sandra says:

    I’m inspired to cook by the people I love to cook for :). While I like to eat, I love to feed other people and make them happy. I’m also inspired by recipes I see when browsing food blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc.

  160. susan yerkes says:

    I am inspired by all the types of food and love to cook just about anything.

  161. Liz says:

    I’m inspired to cook by a lot of things, I like knowing what goes into my food, I love watching the food channel, and I love cooking/baking for the people I love.

  162. Ada says:

    This may sound dorky, but I’m inspired to cook because I love to eat! I grew up in a house where eating out was a luxury so all our meals were done at home and I would watch my Mom, Dad and Grandmother make all sorts of things.

    Now I’m married and my husband’s family are Muslims and have dietary restrictions so I try to incorporate those observances to my own cooking. It’s been a challenge, but can also be fun as I try to substitute ingredients and best of all – eat my creations! :)

  163. Kolby says:

    My son inspires a lot of cooking these days. I have this weird 1950s fantasy of having all the family around the table and having everyone chow down. Maybe it’s just really my desire to be told how great everything is and feel important for providing a tasty meal…I promise I’m not going so far as to make jello molds or anything with Cream of Mushroom soup! I did however make your green tea ice cream and my 3 year old gives it 2 thumbs up!

  164. tracy says:

    Love your blog! I think what most inspires me is that i grew up without a good cook in the house and don’t want that to happen again. So now i cook and enjoy what i eat. It’s pretty simple.

  165. Tana says:

    Delurking for the possibility of a prize – a food prize no less.
    My cooking inspiration comes from wanting my son to have as diverse a palate as possible when he leaves the house. Growing up in a completely “white bread” home, our most ethnic cuisine was tacos. I didn’t even try sushi until I was well into my 20s. Now, I can’t get enough of the different ethnic cuisines.

  166. oranji says:

    any holiday, birthdays or other celebrations inspire my cooking… i get excited about celebrating with food!

  167. Sally says:

    I was reluctant to post because I do have a subscription already – Fine Cooking is my favorite, one and only cooking magazine, I love it….

    but, of course, another year would not hurt, would it? :-)

    My inspiration for cooking – these days come mostly from internet interactions, either ‘one-sided’ like reading your blog and others I am fond of, either “two-sided” from participation in a cooking forum (I’ve been a member of the one linked to Fine Cooking for about 10 years)

    Cookbooks too, of course, but in a way the ones I’ve been buying more often than not come from recommendation of net-friends and bloggers

  168. Pat says:

    It began with a curious child in the kitchen of her mom, and her grandmother…watching raw ingredients (flour, eggs, water, salt) become the stuff of dreams (really, just simple spaetzle like noodles) under their hands was a miracle to me! Thankfully I was never shooed away, but allowed to play along, stirring or mixing a bit as my skills sharpened…their food was my first inspiration. I grew up, I moved out, I moved away to the other side of the country…I lost that inspiration. However, with the recent onset of “food appreciation” websites, I can get inspiration daily – everything from the NYT food section to daily food bloggers, I’ve saved and printed and bookmarked my way through the internet – what a blessing now that my family’s kitchens are thousands of miles away!

  169. Pam says:

    A few things in concert inspire me–reading recipes in magazines (mainly Gourmet and Bon App, but I love Fine Cooking too!) in combination with remembering my mom’s cooking (she was amazing) and opening the fridge and seeing what needs to be cooked!

  170. Ryan says:

    My insipirations for cooking have changed over the years. My mother will always be my greatest influence. However, now my inspiration comes from little things. A color. A smell. Your blog.

  171. Lauren says:

    I am inspired by those whose love of food and cooking is matched by their love of sharing with friends and family. My grandmother always had a fridge, freezer, second freezer, and pantry overflowing with homemade goodies. I always admired how she turned out perfectly crimped pie crusts, despite terrible arthritis in her hands. A few years ago, she wrote down the recipes (painstakingly translating her ‘pinch’ or ‘handful’ into measurements like ‘tsp’ and ‘cup’) of all of my favorites – rum cake, peach pie, molasses cookies, popcorn balls – and compiled them into a book. That book is proudly displayed on my cookbook shelf, amid the Greenspans, the Bittmans, and the Gartens. I hope someday to be able to pass on a legacy like hers.

    Thank you for sharing your recipes and drop dead gorgeous photos every day – and for giving us all the chance to share!

  172. robin says:

    I get inspired by the cookbooks and magazines I read. Childhood memories are somewhat inspiring but I was one of those rare kids that ate everything and the odd and exciting things were the most memorable.

  173. jenn k says:

    hmmm…whats inspires my cooking…it’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing that truly inspires me, it’s different things at different times. But i am a very visual and competitive person, i love reading cookbooks and different cooking websites and then seeing if I can replicate it and then tweaking with the recipe to see what “improvement’s”. So i guess what really inspires me is my competitive nature. Wooo go perfectionistic personality! :)

  174. Brian says:

    I’m inspired by food that tastes great and I have no idea how to recreate it at home. I also am inspired by the comments from family and friends when they really enjoy something we’ve made.

  175. Melissa says:

    I didn’t grow up with any kind of good cooking, sad to say. My husband and my tastes are all the inspiration I have. Or need, mostly. ;)

    I also have issues with Cook’s Illustrated and it’s family of publications. He he. To say the least.

  176. Jennie says:

    Oh my goodness, your puppy is so cute! We are fellow lab lovers – I have a yellow named Lucy myself. My cooking inspiration comes from my grandmother – I can remember her before she died, allowing me to plan a menu for and cook a complete “dinner party” (really just my mom and grandparents) complete with a soup, salad, and dessert course. She was quite the entertainer!

  177. Christy says:

    Two things inspire me when cooking. First, I always get inspired when I am cooking for company. I love to plan the menu around the people who will be at my home, taking into account who likes what (and who hates what). The second thing that inspires me is amazing photos of food. No matter how difficult a recipe or how rare the ingredients, I will give any food a go if the picture is amazing. This is why I love foodie blogs like this one!

  178. Allie says:

    For me, if I’m lacking inspiration, I do one of two things (well, okay. They’re the same thing, but in different environments):

    A) I go to any grocery store and walk slowly and look at things. Mostly produce, cheese and milk. I pick everything up. I smell it. I touch it. It’s kind of weird looking, I’m sure, seeing this tranced-out-looking woman fondling everything in the store. In my mind, though, I am letting the food “talk” to me, and tell me what to do. Sometimes I buy stuff. Sometimes I don’t, and just go home inspired to cook something that’s already in my house.

    B) I walk around and look at the plants in my neighbourhood. I inspect blades of grass, move snails, wave to bugs (and sometimes talk to them), and determine what I’d do if this was all I had to eat from. Usually I know what I want to eat by the end of it.

    So apparently touching potential food items inspires me.

    I’ve never seen this magazine before. It looks interesting. Also, the dog is very cute.

  179. Danielle says:

    Emeril! Emeril! Emeril!

  180. Tony says:

    c’moooon lucky number 180 :)

    my inspiration comes from mediterranean food and culture. I unwind by cooking in the kitchen and then celebrate by sharing the food I make with friends and family.

  181. Andrea says:

    I love your blog. You inspire my cooking and your positive outlook on life is great! Your dedication to post a day this month is incredible. I too, like many others are addicted to cooking magazines, but fine cooking has not yet made it into my rotation…I think I’m going to have to change that! Oh, and the puppy pic is adorable!

  182. Kristiana says:

    My love of cooking comes from many places. I love the delayed gratification of seeing a picture of a recipe’s finished product or reading through a great recipe and enjoying the fruits of my own labors when it’s finally done. And I love when my kids and I watch a cooking show and they ask me to make something they see (usually dessert!) Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly like they saw on TV, the sound of their happy little smacking lips and the yummy sounds they make are like a warm caramel sauce poured over my heart. On a practical side, I like knowing what is in the food we’re eating and where it came from. It’s more fun to be an active participant where one’s food is concerned than to be just a passive by-stander.

  183. AndreaL says:

    I am inspired by good ingredients, good recipes, and good people. I think the thing I enjoy most about cooking is the way it can evoke emotion: certain dishes can bring back childhood memories, the expressions/enjoyment of people, the calming effect that cooking has for me. Cooking always puts me in a good place (even if the dish doesn’t always turn out…)

    I’m a fairly new reader to your blog, but have quickly become addicted. And Kaweah is adorable.

  184. gerrianne says:

    I have no website.

    But my being alive inspires me. Being a “cancer survivor” whatever that means, and having to “survive” watching friends go before me, makes me want to live and capture more from life. I think people dont get it. They want to tell you how strong you are and you are doing the right thing, and all you are doing is running, for you life. Who wouldn’t???

    I am new, just 1 month to your blog and feel that there is someone who gets it.

    People live through their food. My Grandma through her chicken soup, and I try oh. how I try to make her proud. I hope that one day that will happen for me.

    I love your writing and just wanted you to know that.

    thanks, gerrianne

  185. peppatty says:

    My mom and my daughter are my inspiration. I hope that I’m passing on the love for food and cooking to my daughter that my mom gave to me. I wish that I knew all of those Chinese reasons for eating (or not eating) certain foods that my mom has.
    Fine Cooking and Saveur are my favorite mags.
    Your photos are beautiful and your pup is almost as cute as my own.

  186. Christin R says:

    I discovered your blog last month. I am so hooked that I’ve added it to my bookmarks :) I love cooking but I don’t have a blog. Why do I like cooking? I grew up with my grandparents while my parents were abroad. It is just amazing to see my grandma cook… she doesn’t have a lot of modern equipments or measuring cups and the like… She just goes by the smell and taste… and her dishes, I haven’t had such tasty and satisfying dishes from anyone else. After coming to the Unites States, I started cooking mainly to bring back those memories. I have to say that there is a special satisfaction like no other when I see 4 happy faces at the dinner table :)

    BTW, I’m from the South Indian state called Kerala. I usually make traditional dishes. Recently I started baking n I’m beginning to love it :)

  187. Michele says:

    Love your blog, and have been lurking a long time. I am inspired by pictures. Pictures of food, or better even just the ingredients. Not a big recipe follower, but guesser more so… guessing based on the pics.

  188. Yet Another Jenn says:

    Surfing too late for the “contest” which is ok by me. I can buy my own mag.. but wanted reflect on what inspires…

    All of life centers around food….we marry, we eat to celebrate. We die, those left to mourn, gather with food. We awake each day, we’re hungry. It’s the memory of breakfast with my Dad on those cold mornings in South Dakota. It’s softness of Mom’s homemade bread. It’s the fresh rosemary in my herb garden calling me with its incredible, pungent scent. It’s the adventure of eating new new foods in Indonesia with colleagues who are excited to show you their favorite foods. Its making a $1.49 can of tuna into one terrific sandwich.

    It’s the smell of a home filled with real food, real people and real lives. We eat for life….I just can’t stand for it to be ordinary.

  189. Eunice says:

    I have nothing more to say than that wow. I love any magazine that has great photography and a lot of fresh food in it. Fine Cooking looks (yes I’ve been so tempted I googled!) so amazing, and I wish I had found your blog a day earlier. I will now go cry in a corner, and read some more of your blog. I love it.

    Thank you!

  190. sara says:

    My grandma…she was an amazing baker and I love following in her footsteps!

  191. Dorothy says:

    I guess the thing that inspires my cooking the most is the act of sharing.
    I love that you can share food as a gift, share a meal, create memories with food…

  192. Gina says:

    Hi There~
    I’m mostly inspired by the memories of my mom and aunts cooking and always having fun time on doing it!I’m trying to do the same, thanks for sharing…..Gina

  193. Carolyn says:

    Wow, Awesome Blog. I am inspired by magazines, on line food blogs, and cookbooks galore! I love reading recipes and experimenting. thanks for sharing all your idea’s. Carolyn

  194. Merry says:

    Love your blog as always. I’ve been a bit behind so I read the last 15 or so posts at once. Beautiful pics, horrible tragedy & wonderful recipes. Only you could take all those things & make it poignant and beautiful.

  195. Julie says:

    Aloha, I’m too late, must be the Hawaii air or the kalua pig in the oven, but anyway, love the blog, especially your photography! I grew up in a family that had hotels, many of them. As a young girl, I would sneak in the kitchen and watch the chef sprinkle parsley around dishes, curl radishes and oranges to decorate meals and put blackbirds in pie crusts to bake. I was hooked! There is simply nothing finer than preparing food. Nada!

  196. jacquie says:

    yummmmmmmmm. pumpkin ice cream. i bet it tasted great.
    loved the pic of the pup when he was tiny. my dogs were excited
    to have all the trick or treaters also.

  197. Bridget says:

    I thought about this all week since you initially posed the question. Something obviously inspires me to cook, because I’m constantly drawn to it and excited about it. But I had a hard time pinning down what my inspiration is.

    I’m thinking now that, for me, it all comes down to exploration and learning – trying new ingredients, new methods, or familiar ingredients in new ways. I have high expectations for myself as a cook and a baker, and I know I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m fairly certain and almost hope that I never get there.

  198. Rachel says:

    I’d have to say my mom. Like many Chinese mothers, she cooks up a storm every time I return home from school. We’re both very intuitive when it comes to cooking; we love to replicate dishes we’ve had, and regularly share tips with each other.

  199. Anne says:

    I love cooking whatever new recipe that I see that looks most appetizing to me. I must admit also however that it’s hard for me to cook a recipe that has not ever been reviewed by more than one person so I find myself cooking a lot of recipes off of Epicurious where people have been able to review them.
    My family is Chinese so even though I tend to cook what my family likes, it’s never actually Chinese because I’ve never learned how to make Chinese food. It’s a bit depressing really.

  200. Mellie says:

    I have always cooked and collected recipes ever since I was a kid. Loved to poke my head over dad´s or grannie´s shoulder to see how things get done. Now, being far away from home makes me yearn for malaysian food. There aren´t any msian restaurant around here. So I have cook to satisfy my craving. Have learned so much over the past years, there´ll never be enough time to cook allllllll those recipes I have collected so far. Maybe in my next life :)

  201. Bev says:

    For me, kitchen inspiration is wondering how x and y taste if cooked z way, or trying to imagine how a recipe tastes merely by the words, or trying to finesse a great-tasting gravy out of a minimal number of ingredients. It’s also listening to family and friends talk about what they like or have experienced, travelling the world without leaving your kitchen, or thinking about the promise in the smells of a well-stocked spice cupboard. And it’s also blogs like yours that excite me with possibilities so thank you for that.

  202. Teresa says:

    I am inspired by food that is seasonal and also by beautiful blogs like yours! I have lurked for a long time and want to say that your cranberry oatmeal cookies are some of my favorite cookies ever. I also love your pork bbq and nearly mayo less cole slaw. I am also inspired to recreate the very southern food of my childhood.

  203. ailo says:

    I’m sure this is a common answer, but I love creating things. Most art takes weeks to make a dent in, but cooking is a quick and tangible way of making something satisfying that other people make use of. Maybe I’m part jewish grandmother, but I love making beautiful things and stuffing people full.

    Thanks for extending the deadline for people such as us travelers :)

  204. Mellisa Willis says:

    I am a work at home mom and cooking new things keeps me sane. It is something I can do while my little one is napping and show off to the family after they get off from work.

  205. Lisa says:

    Wow an extension – I’m so glad after this crazy week I’ve had!

    What inspires my cooking…. first and foremost it was the ability to recreate things I’d had elsewhere (namely from my mother.) It started in college when I was suddenly away from her cooking and missed the food so much. If I wanted it, I had to learn to make it. So I did. And I was literally on the phone with her every day asking how to do certain things. My kitchen was more stocked full of cooking tools and appliances than your average 30-year-old woman…and I was 19.

    As I’ve gotten older and now cook things even my mother won’t tackle I find that it’s still important to me to recreate things I enjoy other places – at a restaurant, at a friend’s home, some store bought flavor I enjoy but would prefer with less preservatives, making a traditionally fattening dish into something more healthy, etc.

    Challenge has become a big part of it as well. “Can I make something that complicated? Hell yes I can!” And I have to be honest – the looks of shock and disbelief and cries of delicious enjoyment from [so many non-cooking] friends is a huge ego boost. We all want to be patted on the back for jobs well done and to feel good about the things we produce.

    I love Fine Cooking Jen. Man… great minds think alike! And congrats on finishing up your daily October blog posts – I’ve loved reading each and every one of them!

  206. Janet Hough says:

    Love, love the pumpkin ice cream. This will be a must do for Thanksgiving.

  207. Abby says:

    I’ve never read Fine Cooking, but I’m always game for a new periodical. (I have to admit that I’ve tried and canceled SO MANY titles it’s kind of sad.) My boss gives me back issues of Southern Living and Gourmet so they keep me satisfied!

  208. Jon says:

    Fine Cooking rocks!Love your site,your pics are awesome.You could try to “dry” your pumpkin puree.I saw the technique in a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for pumpkin cheesecake.Spread out puree on a baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels,cover with the same.Press to remove water,peel off towels.

  209. Monica H says:

    What inspires my cooking?…..My mood and my childhood. I was raised by my grandparents and I can so vividly remember the smells that came out of her kitchen. I don’t think my grandmother ever made anything bad. When I make fried chicken or homemade tortillas or even cinnamon-laced rice pudding, it all brings me back.

    Your pumpkin ice cream looks amazing. We went to the pumpkin patch a couple weeks ago and they make their own homemade ice cream- out of pumpkins, or their strawberries or blackberries- so good! But they were out by the time we got there :-( This makes me crave it even more. I just might have to make some. I have a vanilla recipe that my husband adores from his grandmother. Thanks for the nudge.

  210. Sunshine says:

    Truthfully, I am only just figuring out the answer to this question and so I fancied your posing it. When I was previously in good health I was inspired by my family and the recipes I grew up with and my heritage.

    Now that I am chronically ill and losing my physical capabilities I am finding my inspiration in pictures. That is why I adore food blogs. It was an apple cake on SmittenKitchen that made me get my motorized scooter into the kitchen to bake. It took me 3 days of prep to make the cake because of my limited energy, but it turned out perfectly. Victory! That inspires me to try again.

    Many of the recipes that you have made this fall have burned themselves onto my retinas. I have set myself the goal of making my husband and I your Chinese Pork Rib Soup.

    It inspires me to hear all you food bloggers talking about your real ingredients which makes processed food sound very unappealing and it makes me want to do better.

    Food blogs inspire me to try food “in season” when I notice all the blogs making tomato or stonefruit recipes at the same time whereas previously I didn’t know that foods had seasons. Now I know why tomatoes taste wooden at some times of the year and sometimes they taste like golden earth or candy.

    Your blog and Barb’s blog have shown me that people can be very seriously ill, and have days where they have to rest etc…but other days they can cook, create and flourish.

    That is inspiring and nourishing.

  211. knitopia says:

    These days I mostly get inspiration from the web. It’s great to know that someone has tried a recipe and liked it, and you usually get to see a picture!

  212. rock says:

    My cooking is inspired mainly by my parents. My mother is an excellent baker – I grew up learning how to bake cookies and cakes and breads and desserts, and to this day I think I actually enjoy the process of baking more than I do eating the end results. And my dad, who loves to cook savoury dishes. He’s of Italian heritage, and was born and raised in New Orleans – so he has such an interesting style and feel for food. Between the recipes that were handed down from his grandmother’s grandmother, and his vast collection of cookbooks, and just his knack for knowing how to combine ingredients to make something magical… he’s my inspiration.

  213. megan says:

    Pictures are what inspire me. Give me a cookbook or magazine with the picture and I’m heading into the kitchen!

  214. Erin says:

    i like to cook things that have layers. layers of flavors, or different techniques – especially if it takes time and it changes slowly as it passes. my stomach tells me what flavor it desires and i find a way to cook it that captures my interest. i like the feeling of acting by instinct in the kitchen, in the cooking zone. i get really great ideas just from pictures of food – and then reverse engineering it to figure out what steps create it.

  215. Meg says:

    I’m pretty much just inspired by seeing people I care for happy and full, everyone is happier after a home cooked meal, and it’s a treat to watch them enjoying themselves around my table.