I love to cook. I used to do it all the time when I was with my partner of 17 years. Whether planning a party, creating Sunday brunch for just the two of us, or making dinner, after the split, I lost my appetite. Literally. I just stopped cooking. I didn’t want to shop for one and I certainly didn’t want to go to “all that trouble and fuss for just me.” So, when/if I got hungry, I went out for dinner with friends, brought home take-out, ordered in, or foraged for whatever was in the pantry or fridge. I am embarrassed to say that sometimes dinner was a bag of popcorn. That has NEVER happened in my entire life. I didn’t eat that way. That’s not who I was.
Well, that’s who I became.
Then came the election of 2016 and I did something I’d never done before — I started stress eating. I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but what I did know was I couldn’t get food into my mouth fast enough. I reached for “comfort” foods: mac and cheese, ice cream, potato chips… things I used to eat in moderation were now my go-to’s. But the more I ate, the less “comfortable” I felt.
I was also down for the count. A shoulder injury had kept me off the tennis court for months. I had played every day for 25+ years when I lived in LA and the Chicago winters combined with my inability to lift my arm contributed to my girth. (The other shoulder was fine — that arm I could lift, and the pint of Ben and Jerry’s was easily lifted from the fridge and ultimately made its way to my thighs.)
Next, I started to notice my pants started to feel “snug.” That’s a polite way of saying that not only didn’t they fit — they HURT. I’ve never had pants “hurt” before. WTF?
Then, one day while I was walking down Michigan Avenue, I caught a glimpse of someone in a store window who I thought looked familiar but didn’t quite recognize. Turns out, the unrecognizable person in the reflection was me.
It was at that point I realized something: I had “election fat.”
As I stared at my reflection, I reflected on how all of this happened… and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t due to the election, or the breakup, or the shoulder injury. It was due to the fact that I didn’t feel I was worth it. I had stopped doing the things I loved doing because things had changed. I hadn’t really changed… I allowed things to change me.
After a moment of contemplation, I had one thing to say to that: “Fuck it. I’m worth more.” I deserve to eat what I love and what I love is a great home-cooked meal. I love fresh salmon and asparagus, I love gorgeous fresh flowers and bought them for myself. I started shopping in new grocery stores (Mariano’s became my new mailing address) and began to rediscover the magnificent produce and the color that was lacking in my life.
About the same time, I discovered this new product called the Instant Pot. (Well, it was new to me!) A friend on Facebook kept posting these interesting recipes that were really easy to make… amazing meals in one pot that also required very little cleanup. (This part caught my attention big-time.)
My mom never had a crockpot or pressure cooker — neither did I and frankly, the thing looked scary. So, after I did some research on it, I decided that since I am only one person, I’d get the 3-quart mini. I mean, really — how much could I make for one person?
CUT TO a month later:
I’m making so much food, (and losing weight, thank you very much!) I need to buy the 6-quart Instant Pot because lo and behold, I was running out of storage containers. I started having dinner parties again and made tons of amazing new things and my friends all wanted leftovers. I hated chasing people down to return “The Pyrex,” so, I began to search for something fun and decorative to use. Hmm… there must be something in the market for the home chef, and uh — nope. Nada.
As I was searching various stores and the internet, I had a moment of clarity and realized, DUH — that would be me, and my company, HomePlates. For the past 23 years, I’ve developed and manufactured products for restaurants, brands, food service companies, and well, what do you know — Instant PotLuck™ was born.
But more importantly, so was I. I unpacked the dishes I hadn’t used in ages and set the table for my next stage.
Sit down. Join me. Everyone is invited.
P.S. Here are the Make It & Take It Containers I created. I mean, I needed great food storage to share my culinary creations. I hope you’ll love sharing your food with friends and family as much as I do. (And BTW, you can personalize the labels. You created it… your name should be on the label, right?) Enjoy!
And here’s more on the products, how they came to be and what they’re all about: