I can’t believe I’ve finally done it. I’ve started a food blog. The idea has been percolating for many months, but I just wasn’t sure I was ready for the self-exposure, the ego-centricity of it all (which is not my style), the dedication of time and energy and the effort required to post consistently of the culinary (and even mundane) creations that happen in my world and in my kitchen. But, it’s done and here I am.
And what brought me here, you ask? That’s a good question.
In May, 2009, I started Cowgirl Enterprises which manufactures Cowgirl Granola, an all-natural, hand-crafted (by me) granola that is good + good for you. In four short months, Cowgirl Granola has been warmly embraced by the San Antonio community, as well as by people all over the country that I ship it to. It’s been an amazing feat and I am so very grateful and humbled by the cult-like following that has developed.
And while I grew up in the kitchen with my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother making everything from scratch, much of my love for food was solidified when I lived in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, from 1997 through 2001, as a resort owner-operator and then traveled back and forth there and throughout Mexico for another few years.
When people are on vacation, food is the epicenter of the way they spend their days—what are they going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and where? Or at least those at my resort felt that way–and so my husband and I focused much of our energies in establishing one of the finest restaurants in Mexico, La Cala. Granted, the restaurant itself is magnificent–nestled on a cove, with the Pacific Ocean washing over the rocks–but, when we arrived, the food left a lot to be desired.We brought in chefs from all over Mexico as well as from the United States to train our kitchen staff and the efforts paid off in droves. I remember one night during high season (perhaps February) when the restaurant was packed. Chef Sabino (who originally was serving week old fish when the ocean was 50 yards away) walked out of the kitchen in his chef coat and toque and into the restaurant and everyone stood up and applauded. It was awe-inspiring, for him and us. Most especially, knowing from where we started and how far we had come.
Once we returned to the States, I missed this aspect of the business—pleasing people with great food—and did everything I could to stay in tune with what was going on in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Every month, our mailbox was filled with industry publications—Food Arts, Hotels, Restaurant Hospitality, Restaurant Business, Lodging, etc.—as well as every food publication possible. I just couldn’t seem to get enough. And yet, I wasn’t desiring of a job in the restaurant or hospitality field. So I sat back, read and cooked and enjoyed life working in the hospitality and arts industry as a marketing consultant.
While I had been making granola since 2001 as one of various homemade holiday gifts for friends, it wasn’t until enough people begged me (and one in particular who kept calling incessantly in early 2009) to make it and sell it that I thought seriously about starting a granola business.
And so I did. I had semi-retired in 2006, just before I turned 40, and that’s when I officially caught the “cooking bug.” Since I wasn’t working and felt unaccomplished in my daily life, I found cooking both therapeutic (in a creative way) and rewarding (in the realm of accomplishment), thus, fulfilling both areas that were void.
Cowgirl Enterprises has provided me with a vehicle that allows me the face-to-face customer contact, as well as the immediate gratification of putting a smile on people’s faces when they taste Cowgirl Granola. I learned early on from my grandmother that food is a form of communication–cook well and people will feel the love you put into things and it will create a bond that is hard to break.
Throughout the last four months of business, I have had countless conversations with customers about food, how to prepare healthy meals, how to eat when you have diabetes or metabolic syndrome, heart issues, etc., and while I am neither a nutritionist nor a dietitian, I do believe I have the basic knowledge on how to eat and cook healthfully and, at the same time, prepare tasty meals. Being healthy doesn’t mean food should taste bad or bland, on the contrary. (Note: My husband, David, had a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 47, and, over the last 10 years, we have learned how to modify and redefine the foods we love and still enjoy them in a healthier ways–many of these lessons learned will be shared here.)
And so through these conversations and experiences, as well as posting some of my food creations on Facebook, I have been inspired to start this food blog in order to, hopefully, inspire you to eat well and understand that it’s not that difficult, time consuming or impossible to eat well, food that is good + good for you and enjoy every bite and sip.
I hope you will join me on this culinary adventure and I welcome your comments, thoughts, suggestions and feedback. Life is about continuously learning and improving and it’s a lot easier if we do this as a community and inspire one another to eat thoughtfully, forage with passion and not be afraid to stumble in the kitchen. As in life, it is in the faltering when we learn the most.