I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Peggy Jaeger to the Power of 10 series. Today, Peggy shares cooking tips and her latest release, A Shot at Love.
I love to cook…and I love to eat what I cook. But I don’t only like to eat my cooking. I enjoy dining out, and I especially love when I visit friends and they cook. Sharing a meal is something intimate – whether it’s shared by 2 people, or twenty. I feel we don’t spend as much time together, just relaxing over a home-cooked meal, as we used to. Busy lives, ridiculous schedules, endless social media outlets. All these things pull us away from a fundamental facet of the family: meal time. Sharing thoughts and events about our day, simply talking to one another face-to-face. As we fill and nourish our bodies, we fill and nourish our souls, our relationships, our minds.
And since I lovelovelove to cook (and eat!) I’m sharing 10 thoughts/tips concerning cooking and baking that I abide by.
1. Whenever you can, use fresh herbs. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make sure you give yourself a little plot of land devoted to cooking herbs. Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, Cilantro. The list is endless. Dried, container herbs are…okaaaaaaaay, if you have no other choice. But fresh picked is best.
2. Always use fresh produce. I can’t say this enough. Fresh is best. First, last, always. I understand that not everyone can get to the market everyday for the freshest ingredients. I get that! But if you can grow it in your backyard or even in a window box – do!
3. Baking uses formulas; cooking uses recipes, so you can experiment with recipes and should! The difference? You can’t change basic baking formulas. Bread will not rise if you don’t think you need to add the yeast the formula calls for! Just saying. But recipes are flexible. Want to add lobster to that mac and cheese? You can. Think some asparagus tips will taste great thrown into that alfredo? Toss them in. Be flexible here and experiment. It’s fun.
4. Cooks cook; chefs create. Be a chef whenever you can.
5. Involve the kids. What’s that old parable saying? Give a man a fish and he has dinner; teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime? I learned to cook young out of necessity. I was a latch key kid and my parents didn’t get home until after 8 most nights due to traffic concerns. I either learned how to feed myself or I starved until they came home. I learned to feed myself by learning how to cook. And by that I don’t mean I read the instructions on a box. I actually had a cookbook purchased at a library fair for 10 cents and taught myself how to cook from its pages. When my daughter was two years old I started teaching her how to mix, add ingredients, etc. Today she is a fabulous cook.
6. Have tasting parties. Remember tip number 4? I like creating stuff but I’m never sure it’s going to be a hit or a miss. Inviting a few friends over and telling them upfront what you’re serving and why, and you’ll be sure to have a fun evening, even if the creation falls flat. And having said that…
7. Never serve something new that you haven’t sampled first at a dinner party. I did this once. Once was too many times too much! I won’t embarrass myself with telling you what I served but suffice it to say for the next five years after my in-laws always took us out to dinner when they visited. ‘Nuff said.
8. Be willing to fail. And you can see this goes hand in hand with Numbers 6 and 7! Learn from your failures. Why was that bread so doughy and tasted uncooked? Did that chili really need that extra tablespoon of powder? Learn from you mistakes and failures.
9. Savor the old recipes. I have cookbooks that date back to the 1920’s in my collection of over 130 cookbooks. These were found at fairs, library sales, etc. Yes, most of the recipes call for real, heart attack inducing items like REAL Fat milk (not skim) and REAL butter ( not margarine) and REAL mayonnaise ( not low cal salad dressing). But the food from the recipes tastes delicious!! Every now and again it’s okay to make something the old fashioned – or pre-fat-hating way. I can’t imagine biscuits or fried chicken made without Crisco! And I won’t. Ever.
10. Give a family recipe book as a wedding gift. I started doing this about 5 years ago and every bride I’ve given it to has been overjoyed. I purchase a blank recipe book ( usually found in the scrapbook sections of stores like Michael’s Crafts store, AC Moore, or JoAnn’s Crafts) and then I insert several of my time honored and family recipes into it, leaving blank pages for the bride and her family to add their own loved recipes. I’ll even put in a few photos I’ve taken along the way of the way the dish is supposed to look. This is a gift from the heart that will feed and nourish the new family for generations to come.
Nothing’s impossible when love is on the menu. In Peggy Jaeger’s luscious series, the only thing more tempting than a delicious meal is a truly delectable romance…
Look for exclusive recipes in each book!
Photographer Gemma Laine is looking for arresting faces on the streets of Manhattan when her camera captures something shocking—a triple murder. In that moment, she becomes a target for the mob—and a top priority for a very determined, breathtakingly handsome, FBI special agent. With deadlines to meet and photo shoots on her calendar, Gemma chafes at the idea of protection, but every moment she spends under his watchful eye is a temptation to lose herself in his muscular arms . . .
With two of his men and one crucial witness dead, Special Agent Kyros Pappandreos can’t afford to be distracted. But Gemma is dazzling—and her connection to Kandy Laine’s high-profile cooking empire makes her an especially easy mark for some very bad people. Keeping her safe is much more pleasure than business, but as the heat between them starts to sizzle, Ky is set to investigate whether they have a shot at love…..
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.
Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.
In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.
In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
Where to find Peggy…