This is a real kitchen.
Here I create and test recipes, take pictures of them, tell stories about them, and actually eat them. Nothing makes me happier than serving my friends and family at this table. These are my knives, my bowls, my mistakes, and my successes. I am so happy to share them with you.
Please share your stories and recipes with us, too, friends. I love reading your comments, emails, tweets. Cooking is a social experience, a high art, and a fundamental part of life. Let's do it together!
Stay in touch via Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
So first, an introduction. I'm Laura. I live in Durham, North Carolina, which (thankfully) is brimming with energy and enthusiasm for locally sourced, responsibly raised, and creatively constructed cuisine. What a joy to be a part of this vibrant community. I have a job that keeps me very busy, but cooking, sharing, and writing about food sustains me. I like bacon, craft beer, chocolate chip cookies, and kale, copper bowls, and colorful Le Creuset cookware.
My husband tells cheesy jokes and is my devoted taste-tester. He's a drummer and a recording engineer. He is my favorite. Bennett, our giant dog, is an excellent snuggler and experienced crumb-catcher. He keeps the kitchen floor "clean." He is the light of my life.
I taught myself how to cook by voraciously reading cookbooks and watching Food Network in college. (Still love you, Emeril.) It wasn't glamorous or professional-- it was awkward and full of disasters. But my desire to build a community around my table encouraged me to keep trying and eventually, slowly, my successful dishes outnumbered the catastrophes.
My senior year of college my darling roommates and I would cook for each other. The girls started the tradition for me in a way I will never forget: preparing an Italian meal for me on my birthday, al fresco on our apartment balcony in Chapel Hill, with menus and treats and flowers and so much love. Go heels.
So in my twenties I read food blogs, magazines, and tried new restaurants in my spare time. At home I was rewarded when experimental recipes, thrown-together dinners, and creative modifications turned out better than the recipes in my printed cookbooks. My instincts were serving me well. I built confidence and the food got better. In law school I threw parties and experimented on my friends. I burned stress whisking eggs, frying chicken, and assembling cakes.
My grandmother was a true Southern lady with a huge smile, a graceful presence, and beautiful penmanship. Mimi had four children, nine grandchildren, and more friends than a person could count in Charlotte, North Carolina. She knew everyone in town-- their birthdays, their children, their favorite drink, their hopes and fears. She wasn't an enthusiastic cook, but she admired and appreciated when I cooked for her. Mimi shared some of the family recipes she inherited with me, in her handwriting, before she passed in 2011. They are framed in my kitchen. At Christmas I cook her traditional Southern brunch and serve it at my table in her honor. I miss her every day.
I'm in my thirties now and beginning to build my own traditions, family, community in North Carolina. This blog is about sharing the best parts of my kitchen with you, friends. Good Gracious Food is all about inspired cooking for all seasons and all occasions. Busy nights, big parties, and casual gatherings. Because I love to cook for my friends and family. Please share and enjoy.