Cookbook Club: Love Real Food

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Well, I think it goes without saying that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. I’ll admit, between a busy month at work and feeling a bit under the weather, I fell behind on writing for Chews and News. For me, one of the hardest parts of bouncing back after being sick is the massive to-do list that builds. It starts off small, with a few errands and things to take care of that can wait till tomorrow. But we all know that usually blossoms into a much larger – and admittedly stressful – list.

For me, working in the kitchen has become one of my favorite ways to get my mind off of the lengthy checklists I’ve always got going in my phone, in my head, on notepads, etc. Although I’m not a math person, there’s something incredibly calming about having to focus in on the numbers and measurements for new recipes. Plus, who doesn’t love when the aromas of roasted chicken or oatmeal cookies fills your home?

Another way I love de-stressing is by going to the gym. I’ll admit, I’m not a great runner (although I’m working on that) and I usually go for the 3 or 5 lb. barbells. But I’ve fallen in love with my reformer pilates and yoga classes at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. I absolutely love catching up each week with my pilates instructor about family, friends and food in between hundreds, and one of my other closest friendships in Milwaukee formed after a new coworker recognized me at the gym and agreed to check out a yoga class with me. We’ve been going ever since, with stops for smoothies and avocado toast before class each week.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when my pilates instructor Lauren and I came up with the idea to each invite a few friends to get together to start a cookbook club. In keeping with the theme of health, we chose Kathryne Taylor’s Love Real Food, which had more than 100 healthy vegetarian options. Knowing that each person might have different dietary restrictions, I loved how Taylor’s cookbook had gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free modifications at the bottom of every recipe. It was the perfect plan to forget about all the to-do lists and just kick back with friends both new and old.

Our first cookbook club meeting was on a Friday night. Once we got through the introductions, it was so easy striking up conversations. After all, we all had spent time pouring through the same cookbook and each had stories to share about it. At the beginning of the night, we were talking about procrastinating on the recipes, accidentally setting off the fire alarm (ahem – that was me) and how incredibly delicious each of the recipes were. By the end of the night, we were gathered around a table reading a giant book on birthday astrology with half-empty wine glasses, promising to get together again this summer.

I’ve heard it in interviews, and I’ve probably said it a million times since then: food is the greatest shared experience. It’s a conversation starter. A trip down memory lane. An art form. And so much more. I’m thrilled that a mutual love of food helped me meet a group of fun, kind and hilarious women. I’ve got so many stories I want to tell all my readers this summer about some incredible restaurants, cooks and fellow foodies, but it only felt right leaping back into this blog with my own personal story of the happiness I feel in the kitchen.

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