Shiwani surrounded by foodAugust 8, 2009
I was reading Michael Pollan’s New York Times piece “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch,” when I stumbled on something that sounded an awful lot like a dare:

“Here’s my diet plan: Cook it yourself.  That’s it.  Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”

Maybe it’s the Jersey girl in me, but I never turn down a challenge.  So, I put on my mad scientist glasses (and an apron) and decided to embark on an experiment.

For 30 days (or more), I will only eat foods that I make from scratch, while sharing my successes, screw-ups, and general insights on the art and science of cooking.


1.) Who are you, and why are you doing this?

I’m Shiwani, and I’m a writer, budding foodie, and former Jersey girl/New Yorker who somehow ended up in Seattle.  I love to cook, but I can admit I have a lot to learn.

My sidekicks/guinea pigs in this experiment are my beau (Jeff) and his trusy roommate (Jon).  Between the three of us — and our array of cooking skills and kitchen equipment — we form a power triad of cookery.

I should also explain I’m not just doing this because I’m bored.  In fact, I have a full-time job, a freelance career, and friends and family whom I consider to be more than just taste-testers.

But being the multi-tasker that I am, I believe I can make real, healthy cooking a part of my life without becoming a slave to the stove. As someone who’s developed food allergies recently, I also want to better understand food — where it comes from, how it’s made, and what it does to our bodies.

2.)  How do you define “cooking from scratch”?  Is there a method to your madness?

The definition of “cooking from scratch” can vary depending on who you ask.  Here are my rules for the purpose of this project:

  • Each item must consist of only 1 ingredient.  For example, I can’t use bottled peanut butter and mayonnaise, or pre-mixed seasonings and dressings. Bur rice, flour, and olive oil are fair game.
  • I want this to be accessible, so I won’t be a stickler about grounding my own meat, spices, etc.  But I will buy them from the local organic store or farmers market so I learn something from the faces behind the food.
  • I will do things like churn my own butter, dry my own fruits, make my own bread, and interview people about their own cooking secrets & tips — because it’s just plain fun.
  • Since eating is so social, I will eat food that friends make from scratch, as long as I’m part of the process.  You know what happens to people who lack social contact?  Watch “The Shining.”
  • There will be the occasional booze exemption.  I don’t want to get arrested for moonshining, and a girl’s got to live a little.  Fortunately, Jon’s been known to make some tasty homemade beer…

Last, but not least, here’s how you all can measure my success and hold me accountable:

  • I plan on posting almost daily, as well as maintaining a food diary to figure out if this is a healthy and cost effective endeavor compared to eating out or buying pre-prepared foods.
  • I’ll have to go out of town for weddings during my project, and yes, I do plan on eating the very expensive wedding food.  That means my 30 days won’t be consecutive, but hey, life happens. While I’m away, I’ll continue to eat from scratch as much as possible.
  • Finally, I’ll end my 30 days (not including travel days) with a dinner party celebrating my success (I hope) and the friends who put up with my madness.

Hopefully, by the end of my experiment, this will become more of a lifestyle than a stunt for the sake of a blog… So, join me as I start from scratch!

Food photos courtesy www.pachd.com.


8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sahar  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Hey Shiwani! I can’t wait to hear about your experiments and escapades. Cheers to your cooking and writing adventures!

    • 2. shiwanis  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:03 am

      Thanks so much for your support! You’re missed in Seattle right now … I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures, too 🙂

  • 3. Kellie  |  August 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I added your blog to mine (http://iammyownwife.blogspot.com/).
    Good luck! Let me know if you need a taster or cooking buddy!

    • 4. shiwanis  |  August 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm

      I added you to mine too! You know, the Michael Pollan article that inspired my experiment actually has a lot of good stuff in it about feminism/domesticity … I smell a blog post for you 🙂

  • 5. shiwuz  |  August 28, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Shiwani,

    first time addressing someone who spells that name with a ‘W’, and I noticed because I do the same =)

    Stumbled on your blog when I ran a search for Shiwani in WordPress, and it was a good find afterall. Also read u are/were a Jersey girl/New Yorker, which got me more interested in reading thru. why? – I guess you would have guessed! =)

    anyway, nice blog out here… and moreover a good cause for a blog… I am the worst of cooks I know (not really from the taste point of view, but the frequency of my cooking)… and my hubby is an awesome cook, so that also attributes to my ‘good cooking virtue’ 😛 …

    well, good luck out here on your food mission, I will keep reading as you post more…

    Take it ez now, cheers! (wine is still okay, right?)

    • 6. shiwanis  |  August 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      Wow, small world! Thanks so much for the feedback — I really appreciate it. Yeah, I’m kind of learning this whole cooking thing as I go, too, so I’m glad to hear it’s useful! I figure, pros are fun to watch, but my blunders help boost other people’s confidence.

      Anyway, glad to hear you’re reading — I have a feeling this will go beyond 30 days 🙂 And yeah, I’ve totally been drinking wine. Gotta live a little 😉

  • 7. Kellie  |  September 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Looks like we missed our big chance to learn how to can fruit.

    • 8. shiwanis  |  September 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      oh bummer! great site though … i really want to start learning more about this.


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