Hello! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. Thanks for visiting Flavorphil. I’m Phil: newbie blogger; yoga and fitness enthusiast; prank lover; food and cooking junkie; and friend to so many beautiful and inspiring people. I’ve always had a natural curiosity about food. I lived in Hawaii until I was eight and can remember more than a few luaus where, even as a child, I felt the sense of community and comfort that food offered to all of us sharing it. I think that’s why I love eating family style, where everyone gathers around the table and digs in. There is nothing to plate, no courses to worry about, just simple home-cooked food.
Family style was always the way we ate at home. Growing up I was fortunate to have been raised around wonderful food and two magnificent home cooks, my mother and my “Grandma Laura.” I was always in awe of the meals they prepared and at how happy and comforted they made everyone sharing it feel. And though they didn’t actually teach me how to cook (with the exception of a few kitchen crash courses my mom gave me), the opportunity to enjoy their fantastic home-cooked meals, as well as to experience the care-free effort with which they prepared them, has had a major impact on my own approach to both eating and cooking.
My mother was very adventurous in the kitchen. She would often invite me in to sample the results of some amazing culinary skill she had mastered – from perfectly risen dough to fresh homemade sausage. She was proud of these accomplishments and rightfully so. Needless to say, the entire family benefited from them, time and again.
At the age of 8, I went to live with my Grandma Laura in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, just over the bridge from New Orleans, where the culinary landscape was certainly different. But it didn’t take long for me to embrace the wonderfully rich flavors of American Southern cuisine – once I found the courage to try it. In fact, after initially refusing to eat my Grandma Laura’s homemade biscuits with honey – on the grounds that they weren’t anything like the Hawaiian sweet breads I was used to consuming – I finally agreed to try one. All it took was a few bites and I was sold.
My grandmother was definitely a product of her generation. With eight children to raise, including my father, she didn’t have time to cook anything that diverted too much of her attention away from her family. Nor did she did have the patience for finicky eaters. And she took the same eat-what-I-make-you-or-don’t-eat-at-all approach with me. Still, I’m glad she did. It gave me an appreciation for trying new things, a mindset that has definitely shaped my own “kitchen confidence” when it comes to boldly experimenting with recipes, as well as ingredients.
We were living in Los Angeles when my parents separated. I was 14 and the kitchen confidence I had acquired up until then proved especially helpful. My dad wasn’t a cook, by any stretch of the imagination. I used to joke that he couldn’t even boil water. So one night, he assigned me to dinner duty. I remember standing in the market for what seemed like an eternity trying to figure out what to make. And like most teenagers, I had pizza on the brain – which is exactly what I decided to prepare. Looking back on it now, it was more than a little ambitious for me to tackle pizza dough from scratch. But I really enjoyed the process, as much as my dad enjoyed the pizza. In fact, he asked me to make another one the following night, which was certainly a big boost to my kitchen confidence.
It wasn’t until many years later – in my early 20s – that I ventured back into the kitchen after a long hiatus from cooking (except for the occasional meals I threw together with my best friends and roommates Valery and Sandy). Needless to say, I had come to rely almost entirely on a diet of highly processed and fast foods. Then I met my future husband Ned, who certainly awakened my long-lost desire for cooking. They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I hoped to prove the point with him, by winning him over with what little I knew then about the culinary arts. And I’ve been cooking for him ever since!
Not long after we met, he and I moved from Los Angeles to Baltimore, where Ned and his family are from, and bought a home. The kitchen was the biggest room in the house and I intended to make the most of it. Two of my brothers, Derek and Kevin, came to live with us for a bit, as did another one of my best friends from LA, Tommy, who is like a brother to me. Add to that list, Ned’s beautiful family and our new community of really wonderful friends – all of whom supported my passion for food, as well. So there were plenty of opportunities to practice my culinary skills, which I did with great passion, as a way to express my love for these amazing folks – much in the same way my mother and Grandma Laura had for me.
Fast-forward seven years and many meals later, when Ned’s career brought us to Berlin, Germany the city we now call home. It is here that we married in 2011, after 10 years as a couple; so it’s a special place for both of us. And although I had left all of my favorite kitchen tools, gadgets, and comforts behind in Baltimore, I was soon exploring the many exciting possibilities and that came with Berlin’s extraordinary gastronomic landscape.
It also seemed like a good time to set my sights on becoming the healthiest possible version of myself. I started working out regularly, while still cooking as I always had. Then during the latter half of 2012, we discovered yoga, which has had a huge influence on my cooking style today. What I have come to fully understand through this inspirational practice is that food is fuel. And I want to fuel my body, along with those of my loved ones, with real, wholesome ingredients. That’s why I try to stay away from processed foods, especially ones with “diet”, “low fat” or “sugar-free” on their labels.
My diet is still far from perfect. I still crave sweets now and again. I have an especially soft spot for caramel and cheesecakes. And when I do eat sweets I don’t always make everything from scratch. Although I make a killer ice cream that we truly love, I often buy it to save time. I also love potato chips; and while it’s certainly easier to grab them from the grocery shelf, I’m trying to implement a new food rule from Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules. That is, eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. So I’m proud to say that I haven’t bought a bag of chips in a while. I expect to use the same restraint someday with ice cream.
What I hope you will find on Flavorphilosophy.com is a mix of easy and healthy recipes that reflect my own guiding principles around eating and cooking food. Not only are they recipes I truly enjoy sharing with my own friends and family, they are also healthy, mostly vegetarian options (although I plan to include a few of the confections and libations we celebrate life with from time to time in our home). Thanks again for stopping by. I hope to see you here again soon.