About Me

My Kitchen

My kitchen

So you want to find out a little bit more about me, huh?  Who is this woman and should I trust her recipes? Can she cook? Why is she so tiny?! Okay then! Let’s get started. I’m Farah, living here in good old sunshine state Florida. I’m a mid 30’s food lover who likes cats, historical romances, costume and period dramas, miniature things, movie series and sleeping to the sound of rain.

I started this blog in April, 2013 as a creative outlet for me to express my love for all things food, eating and cooking.  I’m the kind of person who will simmer with excitement over something I picked from an online menu before I go and actually eat it at a restaurant. I’ll taste it in my head, drool alone while doing some imaginary tasting and then unleash my inner ravenous monster when I actually get there. It’s fun.

Too many times I’ve come across stuff in cookbooks with ingredients I don’t even recognize and have no idea where to even begin looking for. So I’ve decided to post recipes with real ingredients. Everyday ingredients. Things most people are familiar with. With the exception of my first year stuff where I posted recipes I was used to (mostly authentic Asian recipes), you’ll find a lot of easy and approachable recipes here.

So I try to feature everyday real food at home with everyday ingredients you can find at grocery stores. Realistic stuff. Stuff you can pronounce and recognize. Nothing too fancy, a balance between from scratch cooking and easy stuff. And the blog is catered specifically to the mighty home cooks of the world. Those who are tired of eating out everyday, those who want to learn how to cook or those that already have a family to feed and want to try out new things. I hear you! There’s a wide range of things you can find here from healthy food to indulgent food. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth if at all though, so you won’t see a lot of sweet stuff here. Pick whatever you like and whatever fits your lifestyle. My food is a balance between healthy food, normal food and food that tastes-so-good-but-is-oh-so-bad for you.

I’m no chef, unless being a home chef counts. I have no formal training, just lots and lots of trial and errors while I make mistakes and learn as I go along in the kitchen. I try to admit to these mistakes on the blog and to be as honest as I can, even if it’s unhealthy for my ego but hey, no one’s perfect. And hopefully other home cooks will learn from them. So you’ll see a lot of technique discussed in my posts for each recipe and stuff to watch out for.

So that’s the short version. If you want more, read on! Otherwise, happy cooking!

The Magic Apron

The magic apron

PS: I’ve been through so many takes writing an ‘About Me’ page because for some reason, it’s tough writing about yourself. It really is! I’ve had a little more success doing it Q and A style so bear with me:

Why did you start The Cooking Jar?

When I think about why I started a food blog, my old answer was the usual answer: to have an online repository of my favorite recipes. Yes, there was that, but in all honesty, I started a “food blog” (imagine me doing air quotations) just to brag a little to my friends. It started as just that. Back then my food blog was just a few pages on the internet with some cut and paste recipes from my collection and a few crappy pictures. But boy was I proud to show it off! And in that particular point in time, it never crossed my mind to even imagine it would come to this. To me, it was just showing off to a select few friends and that was that. If you’ve followed my blog over the year or have read ‘Happy Birthday, blog’,  you’ll know the rest of the story. If you haven’t here’s the cliffnotes version.

Somewhere along the way, one of my friends linked my blog to an online forum and suddenly I felt the need to improve on it. So I did. Little by little. First the writing, then the pictures. I always had the recipes. In fact, I had so many memorized in my head I felt it was about to burst. Do you ever get the feeling like your brain has been filled to the point where if you stuff in just a little more, everything will come gushing out? That’s how I felt with my recipes. So blogging was about due, my memory wasn’t reliable anymore.

And then something magical happened. People starting cooking my recipes. And I loved that feeling. So I kept on going.

Also, when I told people I loved cooking, I’d usually get a smile and a blank look. Sure yes, cooking, alright. I never saw any degree of recognition on their faces about just how much I loved cooking and I didn’t really blame them, because there’s only so much words can convey. After I started my blog and it evolved, the recognition I wanted to see in peoples faces is now there. Now they understand. And it makes me happy. Who’s the home chef? I’m the home chef! Who loves cooking? I love cooking!

So that’s how The Cooking Jar (the blog formerly known as Cooking Jar and Happy Accidents) was born.

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My old recipe book

Why the name The Cooking Jar?

Here’s the number one thing you should know about me while you get acquainted with my blog: I’m horrible at baking. Maybe that’s not a great thing to associate with a person running a food blog but hey, it’s me. I’m not exaggerating either. I am so horrible at it, I unbake. The first time I tried baking brownies for a dinner party back in 2001, they came out so hard my guests almost broke their teeth. I kept trying but it just isn’t my forte.  I still get brownie points for trying though, right? Haha, see what I did there. Okay, moving on. Unlike cooking, I can’t wrap my mind around the chemistry of baking. I can reverse engineer most dishes with ingredients I’m familiar with, mix and match ingredients in my head or even enjoy the ability of telling how something tastes just by looking at the recipe ingredients but, I can’t for the life of me apply even a quarter of that to baking.

And so we have The Cooking Jar. My abysmal talent at baking does not earn me the right to own a cookie jar, so I decided to go for the next best thing; a jar full of recipes, not cookies. It’s a good memory hook too: Who’s that girl that can’t bake if her life depended on it and what’s her blog name again? Oh right, she doesn’t deserve a cookie jar. So it’s a cooking jar. Odd name, buuuuuut whatever floats her boat.

This blog used to be called Cooking Jar and Happy Accidents. I loved that name because happy accidents was a way of life for me, but it proved to be way too long as both a title and an address. With my migration from Blogger to WordPress in May 2014, I decided to get a fresh start and simplify things.

My spices

My spices

Are all the recipes yours?

A lot of my earlier posts were my own recipes or ones from my mom, so some are original or at least from my family. At first, I decided to only post recipes I knew by heart because those are the best kind of recipes. They’re tried and true. Which meant a lot of the earlier recipes were mostly Asian. But after the first year, I decided I didn’t want to confine myself to what I already knew, and I wanted to explore other cuisines. I realized posting recipes you’re trying out yourself wasn’t such a bad thing, as long as you test them first. I’m having a lot more fun now because there’s so many things I want to try out.

So yes, some of them are mine. Others are adaptations or inspirations from Pinterest, big food sites like Food and Wine, other food blogs or stuff I ate at restaurants. The one thing they have in common is I try them all out first and fastidiously check the ingredients and measurements and change them to what I hope is better. While I won’t try to kid myself that everyone has the same taste in food, I hope somewhere along the way I’ll gain my readers’ trust in that I won’t be churning out crappy recipes and make them waste their money on groceries. I try to make stuff regular people, like you and I will eat at home. Good home-cooked meals you can sit at your table with your family or your significant other and enjoy.

That being said, I give credit when it is due in my recipes and follow these attribution guidelines. Every now and then I’ll get a stroke of genius and create something entirely unique by some happy accident, but for the most part, these recipes are things that already exist in the world and are simply my take on it. This blog is the chronicling of my culinary journey for me, and while that concept has been done to death, I hope you folks enjoy the ride.

My worky place

Did you take all those pictures yourself?

Yup,  all the pics here are taken by yours truly. It took me awhile to grasp the concept of lighting, angles and props in food photography but I believe I have grown while learning. I am very happy with where I am at now. So you’ll notice a vast difference in quality between the old stuff and the new stuff. I still cringe at the old stuff and I might redo them one day but until then, they’re still very yummy recipes 😉

Garlic Stir-Fry Asparagus

All images courtesy of me. This image was taken with an iPhone 4s

What else do you do?

I am a gamer, bookworm, yogi, lazy genius, lover of pastels, former black thumb and now a struggling semi-green yellowish thumb (I once killed a cactus), Indie and obscure music lover (this, this and this), pint-sized and extremely forgetful Jill-of-many-trades-master-of-none. Let me stress on the being forgetful part. This is me.

The Sad Plant

The sad plant

I’m also a mama cat to two brothers we adopted from a shelter in 2011. This is Lizard, the big brother:

lizard

Lizard

And here’s Newt, his little brother. Both are complete rascals but I love ’em to death:

newt

Newt

 

I like your blog, how can I help?

Thank you! I am horrible at social media and self-promoting so I would be very grateful if you could spread the word for me. Also, I  love comments on my blog! If you like it, please leave a comment so I know you’re there and enjoyed the read or recipe! I love comments. I love hearing people cook my recipes. I love hearing how they like/love it. It makes it all the more worth it. In any case, do what makes you feel comfortable, even if it is simply being a loyal reader.

As usual, enjoy!

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Me

Me getting my head bitten off

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