I am Sam, Sam I am

I am a mom, wife, and a professor but that’s not all. I am a dreamer, a Dr. Suess fan, a traveling enthusiast, and a passionate, novice cook. I love to explore new cultures and bring those experiences home with me one plate at a time.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess

I have been so blessed in my life to travel in fact, it is a priority in our house. Growing up, my family went to the same city year after year for vacation. We were not wealthy but my family made it a priority to have a vacation once a year even if it was for the weekend. We would load up the old Ford Escort with packed lunches and drive the 5 hours to the Great Smoky Mountains. I was notorious for asking the awful question, “Are we there yet?” I loved going there each year. The mountains are beautiful and tranquil early in the morning. My dad and I would always get up early and take a stroll to the Donut Friar and bring back the goodies for my mom and brother. But, not before indulging in a donut first.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often wondered where my travel lust came from? I would first say from the mountains themselves and then others introduced me to new places through their eyes. My great aunt had a winter home in Vero Beach, Florida and I would day dream of going and visiting her while swimming in great Atlantic. I loved going on vacations and trying new foods. In fact, it was a mission of mine when I first went to Hollywood Beach, Florida and Freeport, Bahamas with the marching band. I was determined that I would not eat anything I could get in western Kentucky. From gator bites to shrimp cocktail, I was living the dream.

Apple Butter, recipe from Mrs. Irene

My love for cooking did not come from my mom, love her but she is not a cook. My surrogate grandmothers, aka great aunts, were phenomenal cooks. They created masterpieces that I craved each and every holiday. I have their recipes written in their own handwriting and cherish those recipes more than any monetary gift they could have ever given me. From chocolate cake from scratch from my beloved Aunt Georgia, to the holly balls from Aunt Ruth, to the fried apple pies from Deane, these recipes are cherished, loved but most importantly shared each and every holiday with my girls. You see, food is my expression of love. They poured love into their creations and shared those with me. Teaching me how to make an amazing hamburger in a cast iron skillet and how to make mouthwatering fried chicken. As I mentioned earlier, we did not have a lot of money. Birthdays and Christmas were tough on my parents. They wanted so bad to buy us the world and yet couldn’t. So my love for the one holiday that did not involve gifts was Thanksgiving. It was all about the food.

My Aunt Georgia, but she made me call her grandmother

As I began to travel, try new things, I wanted to bring those things home with me. I would recreate locra de papa sopa from Ecuador, shrimp omelets from Cozumel, cottage pie from Ireland, mushy peas from England, sausages from Germany, wonton soup from China, and beans and rice from Costa Rica and Belize. Bringing those precious memories home and recreating them, brought back memories that continue to last and are shared with my family.

Chinese food – Ginger Minced Chicken Rice bowl

So, I dared myself to create a space for me to share my travels, food, and cooking with others. I hope you enjoy! ~Kristie

The Great Wall of China, 2016