Who is the Cook behind the Blog?

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Hi there. I’m Staci.  I’m so happy that you have found my cooking/blogging/photography/internet obsession. 
I come from a family raised in the mid-west.  I, however; grew up in Fabulous Las Vegas!  Yes, really, people actually live there and no, not in a hotel. Then we lived in gorgeous, sunny Southern California. I loved it...but we needed to find some better work.  So, we moved to Saudi Arabia.  Ya know...no biggie.  ;)  
I’m a stay at home mom of two amazing little girls.  Who, unbeknownst to them…are my culinary project.  I’m hoping to create little mini-chefs who love all manners of food.  High expectations?? You bet.  I want my girls to learn that food is fabulous.  I grew up with a dad who could put a picky toddler to shame…therefore, my mom cooked to his tastes…limiting mine.  Thankfully, I've become more adventurous.  I’m also lucky to be married to a man who will literally eat just about anything (just don’t put nuts in his food or ask him to eat fruit..go figure)  So, I get to be pretty darn creative in the kitchen.  
Do my kids eat everything I make…and like it?  Hell no.  But that doesn’t stop me.  I’m not a short order cook.  I’m not making anything else for dinner.  Take it or leave it.  I know they won’t starve.  If it’s a really new dish or food, I usually make sure that there is something on the plate that I know they like and will eat.  But, still…what you see is what you get.   

So, What’s Cookin’?
Once I got serious about this stay at home mom stuff, I realized I needed to get myself organized.  One, I hated going to the store with the kids…huge pain in the (you fill in the blank here)…and I really didn’t want to go every day, dragging them with me.  I started planning out my meals by the week.
Now, I wasn’t really into cooking until I was in my early twenties.  (god I hate how long ago that sounds)  I learned almost all I know through cookbooks and Cooking Light Magazine, and more recently the Food Network.  And of course (and most importantly), from the sound and always welcome advice of my mother.  I started off small, with spaghetti, grilling steaks & burgers, simple soups…and gradually went from there.  I still hate baking…and it hates me, but we’re working something out.  (I will prevail!)

So, here I was with all these cookbooks and magazines…dog eared with ones to try.  I sat down.  Picked out my fave 5 and made my list.

I’m a shopper.  I will happily go to 3 different stores to get what I need.  I scour the store ads and see who’s going to get my business.  I’m lucky that here in Cali I can find some wicked cheap prices on veggies and fruit.  Hello Farmers Markets!  Meat; however, still takes patience and buying only when on sale.  I also live at Trader Joes.  I know almost everyone who works there (they may not know me, but that’s okay). 

As of now, both kids go to school half days.  Monday morning, I drop them off, grab my list and hit the stores.  I have 3 hours to get everything purchased and put away before I have to pick them back up.  No problem…got this down to a science now.  BUT!  The kids are going to a new school in the fall…three half days (TWTH) afternoons.  I’m totally going to have to rethink my shopping…but, I’ll deal with that later.

When I’m planning my meals, I also think about leftovers.  You see, whatever is left is what the girls get for lunch.    (I’m lucky that right now, their school will heat up their food.  Woo hoo!)  And, if there is a lot, I’ll send some with my husband…but kids get first dibs.  Our budget for the week is supposed to be $150.  I try really hard to keep it there.  I don’t always make it.  Sometimes I’m over…and a rare few I’m under.  That’s why I want leftovers!  It makes one meal into two!  Perfect.

My other goal for my menu is to always have a variety of dishes.  I get bored, easily.  I need variety.  Plus, I want my kids to appreciate the wonderful flavors that come from all the different cuisines.  I figure if I can be open minded, so can my family. 

There you go.  My plan for cooking for my family.  It satisfies my inner control freak, helps me stick to a budget (mostly), and gives me more time to do other house-wifey things..(like read, Facebook, surf food blogs, etc.)  Oh, I mean, laundry, cleaning…yeah, those things. 

So, I invite you to peruse my blog…pick your fave 5 for the week, jot down your ingredient list and get cookin!  And, if you’d like, leave a little comment and let me know what you thought of the dish.  I love feedback! (well, sort of…still working on accepting constructive criticism.)  And hopefully soon, I will have a way for you to submit your favorite recipes so we can all share!  Happy cooking!       

My Photography
My dinky little kitchen is my studio.  My lighting is whatever I can get.  I cook mostly at night, so a lot of my photos suffer from crappy lighting...ah well.  One of these days I’ll be able to afford a killer flash, until then, I’ll work with what I’ve got and hope you like the finished pic.
I also have my own photography business FabFotosByStaci@phanfare.com
You'll see some of the photos have my watermark on them.

The Gear 
I currently shoot with a Cannon Rebel T1i and primarily shoot with my 50mm 1.8 lens. I do very basic editing in Lightroom.
The Recipes
I spend an obscene amount of time surfing the net in search of the next great dish.  (ya know, the time I should be spending folding the clothes).  I find the recipes on various cooking websites, other food blogs, and from emails from fellow chefs like you.  And a few are good’ol hand me downs from the families.  
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