In 2012 I moved to Atlanta from New York City where I had launched my career as an artist and worked as a full-time Marketing Director, in addition to the occasional stints waitressing to pay the bills. My husband-to-be had two girls ages five and seven. I didn’t have children of my own but looked forward to meeting them and becoming their SUPER Stepmom. As you might guess, it wasn’t that easy.
I waltzed into their lives like Mary Poppins thinking I would win their hearts by cooking creative, healthy food. Ha. Ha. Ha! Did I ever have a thing or two to learn! Crispy baked zucchini sticks? NO WAY! Kale and white beans – forget about it! These two ladies had very clear opinions about what constitutes an incredible meal. At the fundamental core of this belief: the almighty Velveeta Shells & Cheese.
On occasion, they would take a chance with sweet potatoes or maybe frozen chicken strips smothered in honey-mustard, but that was about the extent of it. Okay, I am exaggerating, but you get the point. Trying to beat them at their game, I once attempted to ply them with my Granny Pat’s homemade, to-die-for macaroni and cheese but was immediately shot down. The problem: it wasn’t the right glossy yellow, and the noodles were large macaroni instead of cute tiny shells. Sigh…
So that’s where it began: my mission to share my love of cooking, broaden their palates and introduce them to the adventure food can be if you have an open mind. I made weekly meal plans and scoured the internet for new ideas. For Christmas that year, they got aprons and starter knife sets. We experimented. We tried recipes from other cultures. We cooked and ate our way through seven years together and I don’t regret one single minute of it.
Fast forward to 2019: The girls are almost grown. They are exploring recipes on their own and starting to ask questions about cooking in college. Now, they will try just about anything edible and are courageous in their choices. I couldn’t be prouder to be their Stepmom.
(The paintings above are from a series I did of Food Mandalas. You can find more of my work at kristikent.com)
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