Category Archives: Cooking


Tonight, I’m grilling out.  I’m grilling a “BurgerBurgerBurger” (said with excitement and sometimes jazz hands).  I’ve discovered that I can make a really delicious burger.

To please A, I will try to buy ground beef that comes from farms where cows live happy lives (he’s vegetarian).  Then, I make burgers using a recipe similar to meatballs, and A and I will sit with a beer or a glass of cream soda, depending on the evening, and watch the sun set as my meat-burger and his veggie burger sizzle on our little grill.  You can smell the bits of onion cooking in the burgers on the grill, and watching it all cook in front of you makes you salivate to contemplate the juicy (and in my case, well-done) burger in front of you.

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Have I mentioned that I don’t often get to eat burgers, unless my dad makes one for me or I make one for myself?  (Aside: my father is truly the grill master, shoveling out through snow to the grill in the wintertime.  I aspire to grill at that level).  Because of cross-contamination on grills, burgers are not a safe choice for me at restaurants… which is why they have become so exciting to me at home.

Here’s the recipe for Johanna’s burgers:

In a bowl, mix up ground beef (85% lean works well) with ½ a yellow onion, diced.  Add a healthy shake of bread crumbs, 1 egg, and a few shakes of oregano, basil, garlic, and then add one more shake of garlic for good measure.  Mix it all up and then form patties roughly the size of your palm.  Go outside to put your burgers on the grill, and take a minute to enjoy the summer evening as they cook.

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Spring has arrived to the long snow-covered Rochester!  Yesterday my boyfriend, A, pointed out a green sprout (a chive) growing through a leaf that was on top of the soil.  Persistent little chive.  I bet it will have a bold flavor.


As spring comes to life, we begin to see these sprouts and my stomach begins to growl.  Lucky for me, A has a green thumb and has planted garlic, bell peppers, and lettuce.  (The chives came about all on their own).  With these homegrown goodies on their way, I am newly excited for food.  I have my own ideas sprouting of what to cook when those veggies arrive.

Just as I’ve grown tired of my sweaters from the long winter, I’ve grown tired of my winter recipes.  I can make a really great vegetarian lasagna, and it’s a wonderful freezer-backup-meal, but I’m tired of it!  Time for grilled veggies, feta and orzo, and whatever else awaits inside those cookbooks I got for Christmas that I have not yet opened.

I look forward to posting soon with either recipe success or spectacular failure as we head towards summer cooking.  I promise to provide pictures, no matter how they turn out…

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Filed under Cooking

Spoiler alert: Cooking is not my life’s work

I’m a therapist, not a chef.

What does this have to do with writing about cooking and coping with food allergies?


This means that despite writing about a great recipe once in a while, or a great success in the kitchen, food is not my life’s work.  Emotions, people, talking, offering support and challenge to my clients, and even looking at with curiosity at my own coping process – that is my life’s work.

As a result, there are a lot of days I wouldn’t even call cooking an especially enjoyable hobby, because I’ve already spent my energy elsewhere.

I enjoy cooking when I have time and energy – there is magic in the kitchen on those days – and it can be a wonderfully therapeutic endeavor, especially when the food around me feels dangerous and scary.

That being said, on the days when I’ve been away from home for many hours, and I put my coffee cup from the morning in the sink and trudge up the stairs to shed the stressors of the day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook from scratch.  I want to order Chinese food take-out, and sit on the couch in my sweatpants.  Of course, I can’t eat Chinese take-out for risk of food allergens, so pasta and leftover home-made pasta sauce will have to do on those days.

Am I a failure for sometimes choosing the easy way out? No.  I did a lot of good things during the day, and not having the energy for a from-scratch delicious meal does not make me a bad person, or even a bad blogger.  It just makes me a tired individual who spent her energy elsewhere that day.

The key, I think, is in setting aside the time and the energy in order to do the cooking the way I’d like to.  If I want a healthy meal on Wednesday, I’m going to have to prep some of the basics – or at least buy some healthy vegetables! – on Sunday.  And the other key is in setting realistic expectations.  Friday night after a full week of work is not going to be the night I aspire to attempt a new recipe.  I’m not a chef by day (sometimes not by night, either), and I’m okay with that.

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Filed under Cooking