Now, a bit of philosophy.
I am a very strong believer in home-cooked food for several reasons:
a) You know exactly what you put in your mouth! I am perfectly grossed out by processed food ingredients lists. If you can't pronounce it, should you be eating it? I don't think so. I confess I sometimes bring a frozen lunch to work, usually when I burnt the previous night's dinner or if I had company who was too ravenous to leave me anything to put in a Tupperware. But I do not make a habit of it. I like being healthy.
b) You save a lot of money! Pre-made food and restaurant food is expensive stuff, and the quality of it is usually very average. The tastes are generally bland, so you drown it in salt, just so it doesn't taste like cardboard. Again, bad for your health. Cooking fresh stuff with spices will make flavorful dishes for a fraction of what you'll pay at a food-court. And it will actually taste good. Nothing frustrates me more than paying hard-earned cash for crappy food. When you live on a budget, making your own food is a surprisingly satisfying way to save some dough.
c) As far as food goes, nothing is more satisfying than eating a meal you made from scratch. Sure, it's messy, chopping veggies is boring, and cleaning pesto-gunk out of the food processor sucks. But when you sit in front of a plate full of hand-made yumminess, you know it's worth all the burns and cuts. Sharing that food with loved ones triples the satisfaction factor. Trust me. And since practice makes perfect, you can quickly end up too snob to eat anything you haven't made yourself.
d) Do-It-Yourself, maaaaan! Home cooking is so punk rock and bad-ass! Don't let anyone tell you different! You are in charge, and no soulless corporation will have it's dirty hands in your plate. Neh!
My disclaimer about meat:
As A. Whitney Brown once said: "I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants." Seriously, I know it can seem politically incorrect to eat meat these days, but I am a conscientious omnivore. That means that when I want to cook meat, I buy it from my local butcher, who only stocks organic meat that isn't injected with antibiotics, hormones, food-colorings and other unspeakable horrors. Sure, the stuff is more expensive than what I could get at a supermarket, but the tastes and textures are much better, and it encourages local economy and free-range, organic farming. Good causes, in my opinion, as the mass meat-farming industry is a gigantic problem that simply shames me. I cannot bring myself to endorse such a barbaric business. But, you can argue, I still eat meat! Yes, I do. I am not proud of some aspects of it, but I do believe in encouraging free-range farming, and I do believe our bodies are built to be omnivorous. I apologize for those offended by that reasoning, and I would like to point out that I often include a veganized version of some dishes, and that I cook a lot of vegetarian and vegan stuff as well; all of which is just as tasty and healthy as the traditional version. Maybe one day I'll decide to banish animal-products from my kitchen and life entirely, but right now, you will find cheese, fish and the occasional steak in my repertoire, along with tofu, chickpeas and soy milk. There should be a little to make everyone happy.
Maybe I have been blessed with a good metabolism. Maybe it's sheer, dumb luck that I enjoy walking, dancing and biking just for fun. And maybe when I hit 40, I will have a drastic change of mind, work out every day and only eat raw vegetables (unlikely, but never say never). However, right here, right now, I am an advocate of enjoying life intelligently. That means, eating what you want in reasonably-sized portions and being moderate about fat and sugar. And most importantly, learn to enjoy food! Treat it like a pleasure, not a threat to your waistline! It may be my Franco-Italian background, but women should have a few curves here and there. Stick-figures look unhealthy. I am not saying one should eat fettuccine Alfredo every night; but depriving oneself is not a sane way to stay fit. Many recipes I'll share are low-fat (yes, they will be labeled!), and they are just as awesome and satisfying as the others. So please, throw away the psychotic "Skinny Bitch" franchise and get your hands on a copy of "French Women Don't Get Fat". Live a little, but avoid over-indulgence. If you feel like eating a burger for lunch, go ahead; just eat a light dinner like a veggie soup or some steamed fish! Maintaining a healthy weight is as much about using your brain as it is about getting off your couch.
The "O" Word:
The word in question being "organic", of course. Now anyone with a handful of braincells know that it's an umbrella term, generally meaning something along the lines of "grown without pesticides, GMO-free, hasn't been massively dosed with various strange chemicals with unknown side-effects, etc.". But one has to watch out, as the word is oh-so fashionable right now, and can be used as a clever marketing trap. Check the label to make sure it is certified organic by a reliable organism before you shell out a few hard-earned bucks. You can start exploring the issue here: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/orgbioe.shtml. Yes, I know it's a government web-site, but use all the available tools to make sure you feed yourself and your loved ones/household pests with stuff that won't make anyone sick.
I approach cooking the way a mad scientist looks at their crazy experiment: it's fun and it's fascinating! I love to learn and experiment, so if you have requests or comments, please feel very free to write! I don't claim to be an expert and know better: this is just me, going crazy in my kitchen and getting vaguely hypnotized by the whirling of the food processor. My advice is only based on personal experience, so be punk-rock and think for yourself if you think I am mistaken.