Welcome to my kitchen!
There’s no where else I would rather be than my kitchen, unless it’s another kitchen somewhere. When you cook and when you entertain, you get to provide sustenance, get creative, immerse yourself in wonderful sights and smells, and control what you put on the table. A beautifully crafted meal or tablescape is such a joy to behold. I never get tired of the end result. And as someone who grew up being a picky eater, cooking is a survival skill. When you are in charge of the meal, you fix what you like!
My life is crazy-busy, as yours might also be. I wear lots of different hats, from magician to banking attorney to landlady to business owner. One moment I might be answering a banker’s question about mandatory escrows on higher-priced mortgage loans under Reg Z or picking colors for a kitchen in a rental house, while the next I’m conferring with my business partners about the site for our next conference.
I enjoy all of my professional endeavors (some days more than others…), but my heart is in the kitchen. I adore beautiful dishes, pretty napkins, well-plated food. Food can be love on a plate.
This site is not so much an online cookbook as it is intended to be a source of inspiration. I don’t have time to dally, so it’s important to me that the recipes I make be quick, for the most part. I also have other criteria for what I make for myself and for what I serve to family and friends. The meal or snack or dessert or whatever it might be must be:
- made with healthy ingredients
- fabulous tasting
For the most part, I like to stick with low carb and sugar-free, but the recipes you find here can be made with sugar and carbs, if you prefer.
My kitchen is my laboratory and I’m like a mad scientist, but with bowls rather than test tubes. I’ve developed dozens of recipes that meet my criteria. In addition to my original concoctions, I’ve tweaked countless others to make them low carb and to better please my palate.
I am formally trained in a lot of things, but cooking isn’t one of them. I’m the first to admit I have a lot to learn, but the process of learning is an endless adventure. I’ll give you the benefit of my hard-earned knowledge and the tips and tricks and gadgets and tools I use to save time. The quicker I can finish cooking something wonderful, the quicker I can serve it and enjoy it — and you can, too.
My husband Michael is a renaissance man who has taken many of the photos on the site. We jokingly refer to the process as the FPD — Food Photo Diet, since I invariably want to pause after a masterpiece to take a snap or two. Otherwise, how in the world would you know what I have been up to? When he’s not around or I’m just taking pictures of ingredients or steps, I pull out my own camera, which is always nearby. His pictures are the great ones. Mine do the trick. I prefer his, when I can get them. When Michael is not engaged in photographic servitude, he’s often managing his crew in their real estate renovations. He’s also a patent attorney, a certified information systems security specialist, and has expertise in neuro-linguistic programming. Outdoors, he’s master of the grill, with a special fondness for the Big Green Egg.
The original PrettyFood site would not have been possible without the assistance of two talented professionals: Patricia Schoepke and Chad Harrison. Patricia worked with me every step of the way in a very collaborative way, encouraging, prodding, and supporting me to do more and do better. After her death in 2013, I found it difficult to continue the effort, but I missed the feeling of great joy that I have when I chronicle my adventures with food. In Patricia’s honor and memory, I am back doing what I love most — cooking, entertaining, playing with kitchen gadgets, experimenting with tablescapes, surrounding myself with beautiful dishes. I know she would be happy about that.
The new PrettyFood site is the work of design genius Tiffany Wilken. When I had absolutely no time to work on formulating a new configuration and knew nothing about how to use a content management system, Tiffany stepped in and just took off in the most amazing creative arc that transformed the way the site is structured, making it more attractive than ever before, mobile-friendly, smarter, and, thank God, easier to update. Color me ecstatic!
Kate Ogle has been my video buddy, and I hope she will be again very soon when our schedules intersect. Filming our unrehearsed wacky YouTube videos is always so much fun!
You will see family and friends (including my business partners, whom I adore) on these pages, as well as their ideas, and sometimes their recipes. They are dear to me. And they put up with the fact that I can be a total diva/drama queen from time to time. (I’m sure that’s hard for you to imagine of moi, but it’s true.)
I’d like to know about you, too, and see your pretty food and hear about your ideas for fabulous low carb snacks, appetizers, breakfasts, main courses, side dishes, salads. What plating tricks do you know? What are your favorite garnishes? Tell me about your gorgeous tablescapes, your favorite cooking gadgets, your takeout tricks. Email me!
“My mom and I are TOTALLY LOVING the new look – how fresh and beautiful it is! For years we have been looking at those Chinese soup spoons wishing we could think of a way to use them – THANK YOU!!!! Now we can justify buying them LOL. My mom is hooked on every word and picture – and keeps showing my dad all the little details in the pictures you have posted. She reminded me that it was YOU she’s been quoting for years – ‘cook from your refrigerator – use what you have.'”
“PrettyFood is TOO FABULOUS for words. I’ve been on the site for hours…wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!!! I am so damned hungry from your descriptions that my cats are hiding under the furniture, lest I take leave of any last vestiges of self control.”
“PrettyFood Rocks! My favorite part is Takeout Tricks. Wow, that is sooo cool. What a great idea. My second favorite is Tablescapes. I love the idea anyone can do this.”
“Yikes, how can you work and not be starving as you look at all that gorgeous food? What a great site! The writing is great and fun. The photos are lovely. The layout is easy to navigate.”
“I absolutely LOVE the layout….your pictures are spot on and the food looks so good as if you could pick it from the computer and eat it! Not that any of this surprises me in the least…but I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with it and plan to SHARE it with all I know! Excellent, amazing, outstanding, exceptional, momentous, magnificent, phenomenal, STUNNING!”
Dare to Grab for the Stars
I was at the florist a few days ago, chatting with one of the guys I hadn’t seen for a while. He asked how I was doing. “Great!” I replied. “Livin’ the dream?” Indeed, I am. Living the dream. And I want you to live it, too.
Live LARGE. Don’t settle for boring or ordinary. Be bold, be wild, be outrageous.
I’ll show you how. I have experience. 😉
Yes, I’m a wild woman. Are you really just now figuring that out? Seriously?!
My biggest source of inspiration in the low carb world has been George Stella and I am happy to call him my friend. [That’s George to the right, along with my video-making partner, Kate.] The story of how he and his family transformed themselves by changing their way of eating is a remarkable one. At one time, George weighed 467 pounds, suffered from congestive heart failure, and could barely walk. He read the Atkins book with a great deal of skepticism, but soon was walking proof that avoiding bad carbs can be life-altering. George went on to have his own show “Livin’ Low Carb” on the Food Network and has authored six cookbooks. His cookbooks should form the foundation of any low carb cook’s library. They are filled with recipes that are easy to make, use few ingredients, and taste every bit as good as the mouth-watering pictures that accompany them. I have learned an immeasurable amount from him. Check out StellaStyle.com and the thriving community of low-carbers that keep its discussion boards lively.