The Beginnings of EVOO

I’ve always had a love for food, especially cooking it. Of course when you’re only 7 or 8 years old the best form of cooking anyone does is helping their mom bake Christmas cookies. I’ve always wanted to make complete meals though. I’d sit around for hours reading all of the recipe books in my house over and over again. Sometimes I would ask my mom if we could make one of the dishes, but she knew I wouldn’t eat them and said no. (I used to be a very picky eater, my diet consisted of buttered noodles). One day in third grade during the book fair, I bought my first ever recipe book: Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals,  The All-Occasion Cookbook. I was so extremely happy to own my own cookbook; I read it cover to cover in a matter of days. Did I ever cook anything in it? The answer was no until the summer of 2014.

On June 18th, 2014, two of my good friends and I sat around on my porch wondering what we should do that day. We wanted something new and exciting, something that teenagers our age wouldn’t typically do. That’s when I thought of my Rachael Ray cookbook. I ran up to my room, excitedly grabbed it and ran back down to show them.

“Why not work our way through the whole book, starting on page 1?” I asked.

They loved the idea, and so we started on this cooking adventure together. The first recipe was Puttanesca Pizza: Tomato, Olive, Caper, and Anchovy. We scavenged my kitchen to see if we had any of the ingredients, then made up a list and drove to the nearest grocery store. None of us had been food shopping with friends before, but we found the experience to be pleasantly fun and hilarious. It took us about an hour to find everything, (don’t judge we were newbies to food shopping and didn’t know where everything was in the store) then headed back to my house. I always figured that cooking in general would be fun, but throw some of your best friends into the mix and it becomes a complete blast. The pizza took us a little longer than 30 minutes, but only because we were amateurs at this. We laughed the whole time saying “We’re making whore pizza!” because there was a side-note on the recipe that said Puttanesca is a pasta sauce named for streetwalkers, or ladies of the night, as it is spicy, fast, and easy to make.

After what was more like an hour than 30 minutes, we sat down and enjoyed our first ever meal together. I’d say we were all pretty proud of ourselves. Although we gave the pizza a 3 out of 5 stars, we couldn’t wait to try the next recipe.

We wanted to come up with a name for our little cooking group, and after a few minutes of pondering what it should be, we came up with the perfect name. “The Sisterhood of the Traveling EVOO.” Since Rachael Ray uses extra-virgin olive oil in almost every recipe, and abbreviates it to evoo, we figured why buy evoo for everyone’s house when we can bring the one bottle of evoo wherever we decided to cook. That day our cooking troupe was formed.

We had an amazing time that summer. We made it through 11 recipes, with only 1 that was terrible. We invited “special guest” friends to join us every recipe. I firmly believe that eating together brings people closer, but when you prepare the food together you really become more than friends…you become family.

Flash forward two and a half years later and we’re all off at college. We had a falling out and the original evoo sisters rarely or never talk anymore. I, being the owner of the cookbook, took it with me to college. Even though the original evoo sisters aren’t together anymore, I still wanted food to bring a joy to my life, and to the lives of people who will become my lifelong friends here at college. I go to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. My room mates and I are lucky enough to have a dorm with a kitchen. Semester of fall 2015 I only made 3 recipes from this book, but for the Spring 2016 semester I plan to make 1 recipe a week from this book.

This blog will be my Chronicles of EVOO. Think “Julie and Julia” except college edition. I hope whoever reads this becomes inspired to cook with friends and try new foods…and I hope people can laugh with me or at me in this crazy adventure. Here’s to a new semester filled with new food, new friends, and new memories.

-Mary Honkus

P.S. here is a list of all the recipes I have tried so far and their ranking from 1-5 stars (or hearts because there are no star emoticons.

Puttanesca Pizza: Tomato, Olive, Caper, and Anchovy ♥♥♥

Sesame Noodles ♥♥♥

Southwestern Chicken and Black Bean Burritos ♥♥♥♥♥ (best recipe ever)

Curry in a Hurry with Jasmine Rice ♥♥♥

Blue Moon Burgers ♥ (only recipe we hated)

Spicy Chicken Tacos ♥♥♥♥

Emmanuel Nini’s Caponata ♥♥♥

My Sister Ria’s Lazy Chicken or My Lazy Sister Ria’s Chicken ♥♥

Cajun Chili with Scallion Corn Cakes ♥♥

Zesty Chicken Cutlets Parmigiana ♥♥♥♥♥

Goodness Gracious, That’s Great Goulash! ♥♥♥

Thai Turkey Burgers ♥♥

Mamma’s Broccolini and Ricotta Pasta ♥♥♥♥♥

Tony Soprano Steak Sandwiches with Giardiniera Relish ♥♥♥♥

 

 

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