For those of you who have known me for a long time, you’ll remember my presence on social media began with a blog called “One Family, One Meal.” It was the one place I got to share my culinary point of view, which supported my belief that my kids needed to learn how to eat what we adults eat—not the other way around. So while I was staying at home raising my babies, the blog became my opportunity to share my thoughts on cooking with people outside of our four walls. I shared my strategies for meal planning, budgeting, shopping, and cooking for my family but as importantly, it became my creative outlet.
Without unlimited time to write, my blog posts were honest appraisals of the happenings in my life, including my refusals to serve my sons plain pasta and cheese pizza every night. But with little time to edit myself, something magical occurred: I was writing in my own voice– to the point of friends telling me that reading my blog was like talking to me in person. They could hear my jokes, my sarcasm, even my tone of voice. I had never enjoyed creative writing before, but suddenly I was loving it! But why?
It was the combination of finding a topic I was passionate about-cooking- and having absolutely no pressure to be anyone other than myself. I mean, it was MY blog. I wasn’t being paid to do it, so who would care if I was telling it like it is, or being totally goofy like I tend to be in real life?
I was writing because I loved it! It allowed me to share my thoughts about cooking for others with the world and experience a real connection with people experiencing similar successes and challenges in life. It was like having a bunch of pen pals.
But then life changed. My kids started to grow up and I dug back into a full-time career. As I started doing real work in the culinary world like authoring cookbooks, acting as the Culinary Director for Williams Sonoma, and representing other brands, my voice at work was that of an adult. And with all of life’s pressures, I stopped blogging. The days got busier and busier and along came health problems, divorce, long commutes, and too many commitments. Why didn’t I have time for more laughter, joy, and messing around? One day I woke up and decided I needed to change my priorities.
I quit my full time job with a long commute and became my own boss. I found a way to work from home to capture more moments with my children. I started addressing my health issues. And is I took on different types of work I loved, I slowly built a new website so I could start sharing the personal side of myself again. I was BACK! I could be myself again. But something happened between 2012 and 2021. Blogging had become a business, and a very serious one at that. Bloggers became “influencers.” We were all supposed to be our own brands. That means whether you’re a cook or a fashionista or an exercise guru, you don’t just do your thing. You are a CEO! A content creator! A search engine expert! Now, you are supposed to create (beautiful) content for Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and Clubhouse. Apparently, we can make a killing doing all of this, as long as we stay relevant and know which algorithm Instagram is currently using to get us the most views. Don’t know how to use the right hashtags and SEO tags? You might as well go home right now.
THIS ALL SOUNDS EXHAUSTING. In fact, I am completely overwhelmed trying to learn it all! So today I woke up and asked myself one question: “Why, Amanda?”
Writing to you has always been my favorite thing to do, whether it paid or not. And I never used to care that my “brand” wasn’t like everyone else’s. But the moment I thought I needed to monetize this site and grow my audience at some crazy rate is the moment it stopped being fun.
Well guess what, Friends? That girl just left the building! She was stressed and overwhelmed and frankly a little boring.
So let’s get a few things straight! Here is what you’ll get from Amanda Haas Cooks going forward:
- Unscripted, unedited, unscheduled blog posts when I have something useful to say.
- Emails when I have a great discount to share with you all, an event coming up, or something exciting to share with you!
- A website full of recipes that are delicious, easy to cook, and good for you! (Usually.)
- Instagram Lives and stories in real time, i.e. when I feel like it, and when I’m inspired.
- Stories about other people I admire. (Check out my “MAKERS” page if you haven’t already. It rocks.)
- An introduction to brands I adore and use in my own home. If I talk about it on my site or in my posts, it’s because I believe in it, whether they pay me or not.
- Last but not least, I want to be myself with you here and forget about what drives my numbers.
When I started blogging all those years ago, I’d say “Be your own snowflake.” It was a great reminder that no two snowflakes are alike. I think it’s the same with human beings. The beauty is in the differences.
So when I’m snowflaking—yes, I’ve made it a verb!—I’m cooking as much as possible and sharing it with you with the utmost enthusiasm. I want to do it my way again Friends, without all of the noise.
Oh-I almost forgot! I have FINALLY posted the recipe for “Captain’s Chicken.” My grandmother would make it for us once a month at least and it is completely nostalgic. The story of how the recipe came to be in America is an interesting one too!
Have a great week in your kitchen. I know I will.
Country Captain's Chicken
- One 4-5 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- Kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional if nightshade-sensitive)
- One 28-oz can diced tomatoes (optional if nightshade-sensitive)
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry thoroughly. Season with salt.
- In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until just smoking. Working in batches, sear the chicken until well browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the accumulated fat. (If the bottom of the pot is scorched, discard the oil, wipe it clean, and add another 2 Tbsp oil.)
- Turn the heat to medium and add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the curry powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and tomato paste (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices (if using), chicken stock, an raisins and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove all of the caramelized bits.
- Nestle the chicken into the pot, cover, and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken thighs are fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Stir the toasted almonds into the brown rice. Spoon on plates, and top with the chicken and sauce. Finish with the parsley. Serve immediately.