Welcome to Beyond Mere Sustenance!
Why Are We Cooking?
Sus·te·nance: Something (such as food) that keeps someone or something alive… Merriam Webster Dictionary. Why “Beyond Mere Sustenance” you might ask? Food can (and should) be more than just a way to fill your belly and keep it quiet. It can be an adventure, it can provide comfort, it can become part of the foundation of a strong family across generations.
Conversation around the dinner table has become a casualty of our fast-paced, tech-reliant culture. Families rely on the “drive-up window” and processed foods to sustain them. Food then resembles the gasoline required by your car more than an opportunity to build relationships and enjoy life. It is possible in this age of two-income families and crazy schedules to create and enjoy healthy, inexpensive meals quickly. For the more relaxed moments, the joy of cooking can provide new adventure and pleasure for a lifetime.
I love food. It is my hope that I can provide a “spark,” some practical advice, and great recipes that will help you move from viewing food as “mere sustenance” to something far beyond. You will find easy weeknight recipes, more involved and time-consuming recipes for weekends and special occasions, and tips on shopping, nutrition, stocking a pantry, using flavor profiles, etc. My focus will be on fresh, healthy ingredients and will have a global influence. Occasionally I chase wine, beer, and cocktail pairings, and a literary quote or two. 😀
What Will We Be Cooking?
You will find everything from Breakfast, Brunch, and Lunch to Main Dishes, and Cocktails to Desserts. However, most of my time and energy is devoted to new ways to use fresh and seasonal ingredients and my well-stocked pantry in main dishes – both weeknight and weekend appropriate.
I have traveled extensively in Peru having spent the entire months of June 2017 and June 2018 enjoying the food, culture, and scenery of that gorgeous Latin American country.
I’m a “border girl,” having been born and raised in southern California, and spent most of my adult life in southern CA, southern New Mexico, and now (quite literally) on the border in McAllen, Texas. Mexican flavors have always been a favorite at Andersen casa, and when my brother married a Peruvian woman, I learned to love Peruvian food.
I started out doing “healthy global,” but I have decided to narrow my focus to healthy Latin American cooking. Keep in mind I am not attempting to duplicate abuelita’s recipes, rather I will continue to use flavor profiles to create new dishes using ingredients available in the United States. The transition has been a natural one for me…
My recipes, for the most part, are entirely my own. I love to “play” with my food… I didn’t allow my boys to do that, but I certainly do. My ideas typically start with an ingredient I want to work with. I then think about a flavor profile that works well with the ingredient. For example, our first winter in McAllen (if you can call it winter), fresh oysters began showing up in my market… then, the citrus. Oh. The. Citrus. Well, we know about seafood and citrus right? Oysters and blood oranges became Fried Oysters With Citrus Salsa after I decided on Mexican flavors.
If my recipes are inspired by the work of another, or adapted from another recipe, I will credit the original author and recipe in the post and recipe.
I rarely take shortcuts. I feature homemade salad dressings in my salads, I often make my own condiments (i.e. aioli, ketchup, syrups), fresh herbs, and spices I grind myself. I will occasionally – in the post or the notes – include suggestions for shortcuts and substitutions.
To get a better idea of my cooking style, please see my Recipes Index.
My name is Tamara Andersen, and I’m an accomplished home cook. I have had no formal training, but I’ve been honing my culinary skills for over 40 years… since I was a girl of 14. In high school, one of my proudest moments as a budding chef was to prepare and serve escargot for my French class. I gathered my own “critters” from our southern California backyard! While some of my classmates were hesitant to try them, the consensus was overwhelmingly positive. Dinner before my senior prom was Coq au Vin prepared in our family’s kitchen and included my sister, our dates, and me. While many of our classmates faced the crowds at the local chain restaurant, the four of us enjoyed a lovely candlelight meal at home for a fraction of the cost. Thus began an adventure that has taken me around-the-world (figuratively speaking.)
I now live in McAllen, Texas with my husband of 38 years, Mark Andersen. We have 4 adult sons – Nils (and Jamie), Evan (and Devin), Gaelen, and Gerritt – who would agree that growing up in a “foodie” household has given each of them a passion for food as well. All of our sons are accomplished cooks in their own right. Gerritt graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in December of 2016. In 2014, we welcomed our first grandchild, Cade Christian Andersen into the Andersen family, and in 2016 little Carter James Andersen joined the family. I fully expect the boys to embrace our passion as well! We celebrate life with food and wine, wine and food… and great conversation. Bon appetit!
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