I love TV cooking shows.

How else could I have learned how to smash a garlic clove with the side of my Santoku knife to easily remove the skin or to whip up a fabulous stir fry or frittata in just a few minutes or to stretch my budget by preparing, for under $10, a cassoulet one would find on the menu at a French country bistro? 

All right, so my meals are not always successful. My family will attest to that. In my husband’s words, “You’re experimenting on us again.” There was that time I made something called Spaghetti Slaw—not the best dish I’ve ever made and something my kids, now grown, won’t let me live down. And I will admit that Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals actually take me 45. And that sometimes there is more food on the floor and on my clothes than in the pot. 

The greatest lesson I’ve learned from cooking shows, however, is to step out of my comfort zone. Try new spices and new techniques. If I don’t have a particular ingredient, use something else in its place. Create my own gastronomic delights.  

Something I’m trying to do in my life as well. Meet new people, try new things, put myself out there, take opportunities, take a chance. But most of all, enjoy myself and all the tastes and smells and sounds in the world. 

And to think—I discovered all of this on cooking shows.