My passion for cooking

Here’s how it all happened …

I posted a few recipes on my personal Instagram page and the response was pretty overwhelming. A friend of mine suggested I set up a separate account dedicated to cooking and lifestyle, so that’s exactly what I did. Soon it became this positive community, which I love being a part of and my following grew.

I cannot tell you how happy it made me to see photos of the recipes I had posted being recreated. To read messages from people saying how much their whole family was loving the food and to hear from others insisting my cooking was keeping them sane during lockdown was fantastic. Some messages were from first-time cooks who, through my page, had discovered a new passion.

I shared a recipe reel every night and because I was on a major health kick and knew loads of others were too, I kept each one under 500 calories. The number of people who joined me on my New Year healthy eating journey was amazing. The best bit? The weight-loss before and afters I received. I quickly realised my hobby was making other people healthier and it was actually helping others. After a few Q&A sessions, I realised there were lots of followers asking me for the same thing – a cookbook. So, in lockdown 3.0 2020, I decided to use my time wisely and got cracking.

Where my passion for cooking began

My love for cooking all started when I had my daughter, Savannah. At the age of nineteen I was suddenly running a home and looking after a baby. I wanted to be the best mum I could be, so I joined a six-week cooking course in college and loved every minute. I learned how to cook things I’d never even tasted before. Soon after, I realised I loved cooking to entertain. I loved every part, the prepping, the cooking, setting the table and just having everyone round and putting a smile on everyone’s face – there is no better way to bring everyone together than some nice home-cooked food. Next thing you know, I’m cooking Christmas dinner for twenty people like Nigella at nineteen years old! I’m still the same now. I’ve always had dinner parties and love inviting people round and cooking for them.

When I was growing up, my dad wasn’t in my life. Mum was a single parent who worked a lot and for that reason I had to grow up quickly. I often looked after myself and cooked my own dinner. I was very independent from a very young age and knew that when I was older, I wanted to create the warm family environment I’d never had. Cooking gave me the foundation to do this, and it was my grandad who taught me the basics. He’d worked as a chef on cruise ships when he was younger; he and my nan had an eighteen-month-old and newborn twins (my mum and her twin sister Karen) so my grandad had to work away to support the family. My nan had her work cut out with three babies, and grandad was always absent from the family home but that’s how it was in those days. He started off as a galley boy then worked his way up to a cook. I always remember when it was dinner time everyone had to be around the table; no one was allowed to eat anywhere else. He was quite strict and what he said went. No one questioned him. Looking back, I think, thank God there weren’t any mobile phones when I was younger; he would have put mine in the bin if I even dared to look at it while we were sitting around the table eating!

The importance of cooking from scratch

For me, proper homemade food is what it’s all about. I’ve never been one for ready meals. If I don’t have time to cook from scratch, I’ll eat out or get a takeaway. I learned a long time ago that a little planning is the key to nutritious cooking and healthy food does not have to be boring.

One thing I’d recommend is kitting yourself out with a good set of pans and a good wok. I’ve had my Ken Hom wok for years and it’s served me well. A decent brand of pans/woks will last you forever. The humble saucepan is probably one of the most heavily used pieces in the kitchen – so it makes sense to invest wisely. The best pans distribute heat evenly and effectively, are comfortable to use and robust enough to handle everything everyday cooking throws at them. Before you buy, you need to establish what type of cookware will be suitable for your hob. Many manufacturers put symbols on the bottom of their cookware to show which heat source it will work with.

I’d also recommend some scales and a varied spice rack. Once you’ve got a good selection of spices on hand, it’s simply a case of deciding what meat/fish and veg combo you fancy for each dish. Spend a few minutes planning out recipes for the coming days and you’ll be good to go. Once you get started you’ll become addicted. And trust me, if you’re new to cooking you’ll soon realise there’s no better feeling than dishing up a tasty, nutritious meal for family or friends. Something we’ll all embrace and appreciate more than ever in the future no doubt. I’ve included an equipment checklist in the book with all the basics to help you get going.

My recipes

I like to share recipes that are easy to follow and require as few ingredients as possible. Ideally, you’ll have most of the ingredients in your cupboard already.

I wanted to cover everything for everyone in this book, so there are sixteen chapters for you to explore. You’ll find dishes inspired by my travels to the likes of Miami, Greece and France, traditional Sunday roast ideas, indulgent sweet treats and much, much more. I’ve even thrown in a proper Scouse favourite.

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. To all my lovely followers who inspired me to do it, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All my love,

Amanda xxx