Learn About Rachel & The She Cooks Team

Oh my! I am certain that “About Me” is absolutely the hardest part of any website or blog. Seriously … where do you begin? What information do you share? What is it about my little life that might be interesting to someone other than friends and members of my own family? Maybe I’ll warm up with just a few facts and then elaborate so you get a sense of my life. If you return to She Cooks again, I guess that will mean you weren’t bored, or scared, by my life :)

First, I am a single mother to Nick, my 16-year-old son who, by the way, is not at all interested in cooking or in eating anything creative. By “creative” I mean anything that involves more than two ingredients mixed together. Nick is very happy with pepperoni pizza and steak drowning in a sea of A-1 Sauce.

Nick is a high-school student who loves to play tennis, piano, and X-Box Live. Actually, he plays X-Box a lot. Every single day. All day. He does come out for food. Although, not any experiments or special treats from his mommy. He comes out for chips, apples, and Cracker Jacks. I will spend all day creating new recipes and Nick will opt for Chex Mix. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Although I really do not like the word, on official forms I have been required to mark the box “widow” for the last 13 years. My husband, Ron, lost his battle with cancer but gained a new, painless life with Jesus. While Nick and I miss him terribly, we celebrate his victory and know that we will see him again.

We live down south in sweet tea country. The longer we live in North Carolina, the more our tongue seems to curl as we talk. Ya’ll should visit sometime. But not in the summer. No amount of sweet tea helps when its 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity. And don’t even get me started on what that does to your hair. Have mercy!

Nick and I live with a cat. Not just any cat. We live with Angel, the most high-maintenance cat in the world. Looking back, it would have been smart to spend some time with her before giving her, her moniker. I can assure you that, if we had, her name would not be Angel. In fact, we have lovingly nicknamed her “Evil Warrior Kitty” which fits her much better. Evil Warrior Kitty likes to play hide and seek and she likes practical jokes (I’m not kidding!). She will scratch at the door like she wants to come inside but when you open the door she isn’t there. She is peeking around from behind a tree, laughing because you got up to open the door. I promise to share stories about our precious EWK in the months ahead. She may be psycho but we can’t imagine life without our little schizophrenic, O.C.D. with permanent P.M.S. bundle of fur.

Since this is mostly a cooking site I should probably tell you a little bit about my experience in the kitchen. First, I am not a professional chef so please don’t expect anything too fancy. I am simply a cook. I have always felt at home in the kitchen and my fondest memories involve food, friends, and family. I did spend a few years as a caterer and event planner but quickly discovered that cooking and serving for money wasn’t the same as doing it out of love. I can’t imagine a better feeling than preparing and serving a meal to those who mean the most to me.

She Cooks is about so much more than food. It’s about inviting others to share your table. It’s about extending grace to those who so desperately need it. It’s about serving others, especially “the least of these” in His name. It’s about making others feel special by setting an extra special table or wrapping a beautiful package. It’s about celebrating friends and family and blessings

Thank you so much for joining me at my table. I pray this site will provide you with ideas that will make your life, and the lives of those around you, richer and even more meaningful.

Questions About Rachel

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, LeAnn! What do you enjoy doing in your spare time and what, do you find, you are most passionate about in life?

Well, on paper I’m a widowed, single-mom of a 16-year-old all-testosterone boy. Spare time? What is that, exactly? I work full time, take care of a kid, a cat, and a house, teach adult Sunday school, sit courtside at Nick’s tennis matches, walk three miles a day, and juggle several “projects” at once. Any spare time is spent creating new recipes to try out on my brave friends who don’t let an occasional oven fire frighten them off! I am most passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine how anyone can get through life, especially life’s tragedies, without Him.

2. Give us a little insight into your educational and professional experience. Have you always enjoyed cooking?

First, I am definitely not a professional chef and I have no formal training. Cooking is something that came naturally. The kitchen was always my favorite place to be. I have fond memories of helping my mom make Christmas cookies, and watching with a keen eye as my Italian grandmother made her Sunday sauce. I have always had a passion for preparing food for others and for making the food look pretty on the plate. It’s a love thing! I was a caterer for a while but it wasn’t the same. At that point it was a job instead of a labor of love. There’s just something about presenting a beautiful, lovingly prepared meal or gift to someone you care about, or … to someone who really needs to be cared for.

3. What gave you the idea to create She Cooks, your new cooking site, and what do you hope is accomplished through the site?

A couple of months ago God woke me up in the middle of the night with a vision for She Cooks. 1 Peter 4:10 says that we are to use the gifts we have been given to serve others. Well, as much as I would like to have the gift of speaking or writing or wisdom or teaching, God gave me the gift of hospitality. Instead of harboring disappointment over my lack of a more “important” gift, God showed me that extending hospitality is a tangible way to share His love and extend grace to family, friends, and to “the least of these.” Nothing warms my heart more than creating a special meal, centerpiece, packaged treat or uniquely wrapped gift for someone who needs a little something special. The reward is in the way the recipient feels. It is my prayer that people will come to She Cooks looking for recipes or party planning ideas, but they will find so much more … they will find the inspiration and resources they need to share His grace with others.

4. Many of the world’s best cooks and chefs have expressed that cooking an entrée is much different than baking a dessert. Do you find cooking easier than baking, or visa versa?

To me, cooking isn’t necessarily easier than baking, but it is definitely more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake and I especially love the smell of anything with cinnamon baking in the oven. But baking is more precise. It’s more about chemistry. When cooking an entrée I can pretty much get as creative as I want and that’s exciting to me.

5. What is your favorite thing to make? And, what is one insider tip you could share with us?!

:) Ooohhhh … tough question. I’m not sure if I have just one favorite thing to make. I love to take a few fresh ingredients and let their natural flavor shine. Any meat, seafood or peak-season vegetable seasoned simply with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and fresh lemon and then grilled JUST ROCKS! Pair with a salad drizzled with homemade vinaigrette and end with dark chocolate covered strawberries and you have my perfect meal. Yum! OK – Here’s an insider tip. (Sshhh … don’t tell anyone). Fresh whipped cream will fall in a few hours, making it impossible to top a pie in advance. When making whipped cream, add one jumbo marshmallow that has been softened in the microwave for ten seconds for every one cup of heavy cream. Add the marshmallow with a few drops of vanilla and a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar as soon as the heavy cream is just about stiff. The marshmallow will stabilize the whipped cream so you can decorate a pie, tart, or trifle in advance and spend time with your guests instead of whipping cream at the last minute!

6. What are some of the most impactful things, events or experiences you’ve encountered during your time with the ministry?

Oh my! How much time do you have? Seriously, there are way too many to mention. I have personally witnessed miracle after miracle. And thousands have invited Jesus into their heart through our website, speaking events, and daily devotions. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

7. You have two personal websites/blogs that you currently write and update regularly, and now you’re adding a THIRD?! How do you balance your time between these efforts, your time with your son, and everything else?

Hahahahaha. Sorry. You were serious? I’m not so sure I am successful with the whole balance thing. I simply prioritize what’s the most important (actually, I should say who is the most important), and then I do the best I can. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if there are dirty dishes in my sink or if a blog didn’t get updated. What matters is that my son knows he is loved unconditionally and I didn’t turn my back on a friend or someone in need