I woke up the other morning thinking about food. Recipes that involve red sauce, specifically. Bolognese, shakshuka, the shrimp and grits I ate last night, red curry. I wake up thinking about food more often than I’d admit in unfamiliar company.

I like to eat. Well, really — I love to eat. I also like to cook. I like cooking for and with people. And I like to write. So I figured, this morning, lying in bed thinking about lamb stew, why not start writing about food?

(I initially wanted to call this “Red Sauce Only” and make it a weekly recipe for something cooked in tomato sauce. I could probably do a year of it, but not sure how I’d feel by the end of it.)

So anyway, the idea here — behind “Cow We Doin’?” — is to write about a recipe once a week, maybe inspire you — the reader, the eater — to cook it, too.

The recipes are not written “traditionally” — there’s no list of ingredients or step-by-step instructions. I realize this may be off-putting for some. But try it out. You’ll find that in many cases, by “letting go” of the recipe, you’ll find you actually can enjoy cooking more. It’s an adventure! As long as you have an idea of roughly where you’re headed, you’ll be okay. If you really need more specific instructions, feel free to drop me a note and I’ll be sure to help you out.

About me.

I’m not a professional chef. In fact, I was barely allowed in the kitchen growing up! But I started cooking for myself in college, mostly learning from reading recipes in illustrious cooking publications such as Men’s Health, GQ, and Esquire. I got hooked pretty quickly, started watching a lot of Chopped1 on the Food Network, and really just kept going from there.

After college, I continued to cook for myself — and others. Throughout it all, I’ve come to appreciate most the spontaneity, the creativity, and the feeling of accomplishment cooking brings to me — and the joy that a good meal can bring to others. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received is my brother telling me that the brisket I made was better than anything he had in Texas2.

At the end of the day, cooking is something humans have been doing since we discovered fire. It’s an innate skill that pretty much anyone can learn to do. I’m excited to continue to share my experiments with you!

What are we cooking?

At the core, I’m a firm believer that anything can taste good when you get the best ingredients possible and don’t try to be too fancy. Most of the recipes in this newsletter will adhere to that philosophy. If you can’t explain how to make something in a few paragraphs3, it’s probably better to order it at a restaurant.

I firmly believe that you should source the best ingredients you can find and afford. For me, that means heavily relying on local CSAs for meat, fish, and vegetables while maintaining a small veggie garden of my own in my backyard. I supplement this with runs to the grocery store4. I’d love to incorporate more self-harvested meat, fish, and vegetables into the Family CWD diet, but I realize this isn’t sustainable or an option for everyone. Wherever you get your food, you can still make something delicious.

Because this is a representation of how I actually eat, recipes will probably skew meat heavy. I’m not a vegan, nor do I have any desire to be one. However, I do appreciate vegetables5 and try to cook fairly balanced meals. From an cuisine standpoint, you’ll probably see a lot that is inspired by the South, Italy, Asia6, and anything that tastes good. Like Oscar Wilde once said: I’m a man of simple tastes; I’m always satisfied by the best!

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1

Watching Chopped, as I’ve alluded to before, has probably had the most influence on the way I think about cooking.

2

Almost certainly flattery, but still much appreciated, Joe!

3

Or even better, sentences!

4

Shout out to anyone who I’ve caught up with on my weekly drive to Whole Foods!

5

For nutrients!

6

Yes, I know that’s casting a wide and diverse net — sorry.