In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to get bogged down by work, errands, and responsibilities. But what about those moments when you crave a break, a chance to unwind and recharge? That’s where hobbies come in! These enjoyable activities offer a surprising amount of benefits, from stress relief and social connection to skill development and a boost in self-esteem. This is why we encourage our DiRAD Team to embrace their hobbies, which are essential for a well-rounded and happy life.

This month’s Company Spotlight is focused on Home Chefs of DiRAD! Those that love to cook or bake and get creative in the kitchen!

How long have you been cooking/baking?

Maria’s Apple Pie

Dawn W: Since I was a teenager, I used to make/start dinner for my parents because they worked till 5.  We sat down to dinner as a family every night.

Maria M: Since I was young. My parents frequently involved me in cooking and baking. Both at home and at the family restaurant.

Emma W: Since I was little. I always liked whipping up some peanut butter cookies or mashed potatoes and wanted to help out in the kitchen (no matter how helpful I might actually have been).

Craig D: Since I was 13.

Kim S: About 15 years.

What got you interested in cooking/baking?

Dawn W: My grandmother was always in the kitchen, putting on our big family dinners every Sunday when I was a kid for about 20 people.   I was always amazed how much food/courses she prepared, appearing effortlessly.  I realize now as an adult how much work that must have been for her and wish she was still here so I can tell her how much I appreciate all those amazing meals and the time it must have taken her to prepare.

Maria M: My family. Wherever I was – home, the restaurant, a relative’s house – something was always cooking.

Craig’s Quiche

Emma W: It seemed like this skill everyone older had (when I was really little) and my dad used to have a garden plot in a local community garden so my brother and I were always shelling peas and shucking corn.

Craig D: I grew up watching Food Network.

Kim S: I started cooking/baking from scratch when I learned that sodium was a contributor to my migraines and I wanted to cut as much processed foods out of my lifestyle as I could.

What’s your favorite thing about cooking/baking?

Dawn W: The joy it brings to people to eat a good home cooked meal and take home leftovers.  I have been taught that cooking for people is a way to show them love.

Maria M: I like to make food that makes people happy. I also like involving my kids in cooking and baking, and trying new recipes.

Emma W: It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Small easy pasta dinner? Incredible. Big multicourse dinner party? Fantastic. Brownies? Kale? Citrus? There are so many options for however much energy or time there is. My favorite thing is also storing easy pre-cooked things in the freezer. Nothing is better than a freezer cookie that was made months ago and baked during a busy week.

Craig D: How the possibilities are endless! The more you become comfortable, the more empowered you feel to try to make new things.

Kim S: Being able to add as little or as much spices as I want.

Dawn’s Famous Meatballs

What is the most recent creation you’ve made that you’re really proud of?

Dawn W: It’s not recent, but I often hear from family and friends,  that I should sell my meatballs.  I always have meatballs in my freezer, it’s a staple in my house. A family recipe from my grandma that I have added my touch to over the years.

Maria M: This past year I took over the family tradition of making my mom’s dressing for Thanksgiving. My favorite part of the meal, and it came out great! Also – my daughter and I are getting really good at making pies! We have a great crust recipe handed down by family friends. 🙂 My mom and I also recently learned how to make grape leaves!

Emma W: Sounds bland but this spinach soup with leeks and crusty bread. I was not thinking it was going to be that great, but it tasted incredible, was vibrantly green, and reheated very well.

Craig D: I got into making quiches! I make a quiche with spinach, ham, red onion, gouda, and Swiss that is to die for!

Kim S: I haven’t had any new creations – I stick to the basics because that’s what my kiddos like!  (Chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, carrot cake, muffins, banana bread)

What do you wish more people knew about cooking/baking?

Maria’s Thanksgiving Meal

Dawn W: It’s really not that scary to try to cook.  Prepping your ingredients before you start to cook, I think is key to cooking a dish successfully.

Maria M: The majority of things you’ll find yourself cooking are not very difficult to make. And for the difficult dishes, there’s bound to be a video you can watch.

Emma W: It’s not complicated. Some great things are very, very simple but just take a little bit of time. Also, people think you have to do very hard or impressive things to cook. If you want to be a sourdough bread wizard or laminate croissants at home, enjoy. But also making a very easy freezer soup is still cooking. People discount the easy stuff, but it’s still cooking / baking.

Craig D: It’s more simple to make certain homemade things than one would think!

Kim S: Recipes are just guidelines.

If anyone is curious about cooking/baking, where do you think they should start?

Dawn W: The internet and food network shows.  I love watching food network cooking and competitions.  With the internet, I’m not afraid to try all kinds of ethnic food recipes that take me out of my comfort zone.  I have tried many like Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, German, Greek, Vegan, Sushi all from online recipes.

Maria M: Ask a friend who cooks to teach you how to make one or two dishes that interest you. Or gather some other curious friends and attend a cooking class.

Emma W: Cookbooks! Everyone thinks being able to cook or bake is inherently innate and that people are coming up with things on their own but sometimes there’s no inspiration. Sometimes people who cook a lot need freezer sweet potato fries. But that’s where cookbooks come in or finding recipes online. Blackberry swirl cheesecake brownies? Sausage with fennel cooked in tomato sauce perched on top of polenta? Stir fried pork with hot long green peppers and rice? Lately I’ve been really into The Farm Table by Julius Roberts and have stood by Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden for years. I like seasonal cooking because it limits choice (and don’t we all make enough decisions already?) and supporting local farmers at the farmers market is delightful and a good way to get outside into the sun.

Craig D: When I was young, I started with seasoning before I started cooking. It’s really important to know what flavors you want to add to your food then you can move on to execution.

Kim S: The basic old fashioned Betty Crocker cookbook is a great starting point and once you get comfortable with a recipe you can experiment.


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