(This is a giveaway post. The prizes are pictured above, the right image, courtesy of

**Update: Friday night, the winners were chosen using a random number generator, and now that they’ve both responded and accepted, I can announce the two prizes are going to Lainey and Rhonda! Congratulations and thanks, everyone, for participating!

I like to hear people’s stories. (And I’m going to presume you do, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this site, which tends towards the autobiographical as much as the culinary.) It seems to me that we were made this way, or, at least, made to need the things stories are made of—relationships, experiences, plot, purpose.

In the 1940s and 50s, my grandma cooked for her husband and then later, for my mom, in a small brick bungalow in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. That was part of her story. She lived in an era when women married young and raised families; she survived the depression in an Italian family of five children. Today, I cook for pleasure, because I want to and I like to and, sometimes, because it reminds me of her. That’s part of mine.

What about you? Why do you cook, or why don’t you? When? How? Do you cook for yourself or for others? Do you enjoy it or hate it? What were your favorite food memories? Your least favorite? What is your great pleasure in eating?

Because they are tied to who you are, these questions are not just about food—they are about your history, your values, your story. M.K. Fisher said, “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.”

On that theme, and to mark the six-month anniversary of this blog that occurred earlier this month, it’s time for a giveaway. I’ve shared 88 (!) stories with you since August, and you’ve been nice enough to listen. Now I’d like to return the favor.

This is all in good fun, so I reserve the right to change anything necessary; but I really want to give something away, so please enter!

How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment in this post that answers any of the questions in bold above, and you are automatically entered.
  • To double your chances, subscribe to this site by clicking here. (***UPDATE: The codeword wasn’t working, so here is the new rule – subscribe by e-mail to receive an automatic second entry. Or, subscribe via RSS, and just shoot me an e-mail to I’ll take your word for it.

As for the prizes:

  • Penguin books has sent me two copies of The Ungarnished Truth, a cooking-contest memoir by Ellie Matthews, winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1998. The book is an easy read, a behind-the-scenes look at goes on inside the head of someone who wins a million dollars (!) for Salsa Couscous Chicken. For those of us who enjoy a good story, it’s delightful. Each winner will receive one copy.
  • sells these wildly popular RuMe bags (more info here). I keep a black one in my purse at all times, and it’s great for picking up groceries without wasting paper or plastic. Each of the two winners of this giveaway will also receive one RuMe bag—one is black, and one is gray.

When Will There Be Winners:
The winners will be chosen by a random number generator this Friday, February 20, 2009. After both prizes have been claimed, I will announce the winners here.

Other Important Info:

  • All winners must be 18 years of age or older and live in the United States.
  • No purchase is necessary to participate in this giveaway.
  • I will choose the winners from the qualified participants. I am the sole judge of adding entries to the list. Plagiarized content, trackback from splogs, spam and comments containing abusive or inappropriate languages will not be considered.
  • To award the prizes, I have to be able to contact you. Please leave a valid e-mail address with your comment, or make sure I can contact you through your Web site. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone else.
  • Winners will be required to submit a physical address to ship the prize. Again, your contact information will never be shared with anyone.
  • Prizes are provided as-is, and substitutions may be made at my discretion.
  • Winners must reply within 1 week from the time notified to claim their prizes. Otherwise, they forfeit, and an alternate will be contacted.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Lan

    shannalee – i heart your blog, has it only been 6 months? i only just started cooking in earnest. before, it was because we as humans have to eat. now, i do it because it’s another way for me to show that i care for someone. i cook for jason and for everyone i heart. i seriously should’ve been italian or greek! i do enjoy cooking but what i enjoy more is sitting at a table heaped with food, surrounded by friends and pham-ily.

  2. katie

    That sounds like a great book. I dont think I would ever cook again if I wasn’t cooking for my husband and children. I cook to make them feel loved, and happy and satisfied. Honestly, I would probably eat cold cereal for every meal if I was on my own.

  3. carmen

    congrats on the 6 month anniversary on the blog! it’s an absolutely lovely blog, one of my favorites. :)

    i cook to feed my family good, quality food and to show love by putting effort and thought into what i feed them. i didn’t learn to cook until i got married, but i absolutely love it.

  4. Rhonda

    Hey Shanalee! I’m delighted to have found your blog. For me, I have always enjoyed cooking but I have recently rediscovered it. You see, Charles (my hubby) and I bought our first house in 2002. The kitchen very little counterspace and was very frustrating to cook in. This past summer, however, we remodeled. We did everything ourselves which resulted in a brand new kitchen. Though we still have things to do to finish it completely, it’s like my love for cooking has been born again. There’s a place for everything and it’s easy to find things as well as cook. There’s extra storage, extra organization, extra lighting, and so much more.

    Oh and we are even planning 2 gardens this year – a vegetable garden and a smaller herb garden. I’m more in love with cooking than ever…it has become an obsession. I’m such a cooking nerd these days!!

  5. Rhonda

    OOOOPPPPS! I was so excited to talk about cooking that I left an “n” out of your name! Sorry about that Shannalee!!

  6. Sarah L

    Ooo, I’d love to get either the book or bags!

  7. Jacqui

    happy 6 month anniversary! your blog has evolved so much since august!

    why do i cook? there’s too many reasons to count! i cook because i love to eat. because i love throwing my favorite ingredients together and seeing what happens. because to me, cooking means comfort and family and home. the foods i grew up with are attached to my parents’ life in the philippines and my own childhood, and being able to recreate these dishes means i can feel the comforts of home no matter where i am. when i was younger, i’d just eat. now, at the dinner table with my parents, i ask questions about the food, about their origins, about how they ate a particular dish when they were younger, about how it’s cooked differently in the philippines, about their own favorite foods and memories and stories. and after years and years of eating their food, i can finally come home and cook for them — foods that they’ve never cooked or eaten or even knew existed. what a lovely cycle food can create. :)

  8. Lainey

    congrats on six months of blogging! i enjoy your posts and your photos.

    i love food/cooking for the stories. i think it could be said for any dish/dessert/meal you could make that there is a story about how it got to be that why, where it came from and who made it what it is.

  9. Belle

    I LOVE to cook for other people. I guess its a southern thing, but making a fabulous dinner for my friends makes me really happy. I also love to just come home after the end of a long day and cook. The order of chopping, sauteeing, and measuring relaxes me. Either way, I’m happy and no one is hungry.

  10. Kate

    I cook because I take comfort in it. Making a meal for me is a good way to unwind, and then there’s tasty things at the end of it. I also like trying new foods and recipes, because you never know if the next one will be the best thing ever. It’s great to introduce other people to new, home-cooked foods as well. There’s a sense of accomplishment and of joy in seeing other people happy, well-fed, and enjoying good food.

  11. The Duo Dishes

    People do things that make them happy. And that’s why we cook!

  12. E.P.

    I cook because it makes me feel comfortable. I cook because I remember cooking with my mother, father, grandmothers and others during my childhood. I’ll cook to feed myself, but I love cooking for groups. Because there is nothing better than sharing the love that way.

  13. meri

    I cook because in the last little while I’ve become more interested in the whole process…mainly because I’m trying to eat a little healthier. Previously, I just warmed up convenience food and made grilled cheese, but now I’m finding an urge to make pasta sauce from scratch, homemade granola bars, and all sorts of other things.

    By the way, I’m a Canadian student going to school in the US, so I’m not sure if I qualify…

  14. Caity

    My favorite food memories surround the holidays…I love the tradition of holiday food. Cornbread stuffing and cranberry relish for Thanksgiving, tamales and peppermint hot fudge sundaes for Christmas Eve, monkey bread for Christmas morning. I get so excited just thinking about it!

  15. Jennifer

    I have a special memory of cooking with my mother as soon as I was big enough to stand on a stool and reach the counter. It started with her measuring out the ingredients and letting me pour them into the mixing bowl. Soon I was measuring them myself, and soon I was doing the whole thing. I would love to do the same with my children someday.

    Cooking is such a delicious combination of being creative, nurturing, productive, and loving all at the same time. Getting home from work at dinner time makes it hard to regularly cook fabulous meals, but whenever I have time off work, it’s a high priority. For now, I try to plan ahead enough to do something special every so often or at least to have easy-fix things on hand.

    I love eating what I’ve made because I make what I like, but nothing makes me happier than cooking something that someone else enjoys. That, to me, is success as a friend: when you can anticipate what your friend will like, spend the time preparing it, and provide for your friend in such a personal way.

  16. Chessa!

    I love to cook. Nowadays I do it mostly on the weekends since it’s when I have the most time and inclination. I make my own sauce for pasta and freeze it and I grow my own basil and freeze that too. I don’t have a favorite dish but I love to experiment…I especially love making hearty soups in the winter. Chopping vegetables calms me for some reason. In the summer I will bbq everything from a piece of fish to a raw onion to veal to a whole zucchini. I love it.

    I practically grew up in the kitchen and my Italian grandmother recently gave me a copy of her “Dona Patrona” cook book and etiquette book. It’s in Spanish and there are about a zillion post-it notes and other handwritten notes from my great-grandmother and my grandmother and my aunt in there. I don’t even want to open it bc I’m afraid something will happen to it. They covered it with contact paper years ago bc it was falling apart and that cover is now falling apart. When my parents got married 35 years ago my grandmother gave my mother a copy. I adore that book. I will treasure it forever.

  17. Molly

    Unfortunately most of the reason I cook now is for work. Not that I don’t enjoy work, I do, but recently, in Mexico, I was reminded of why I love to cook. We traveled down there for Thanksgiving to spend time with my partner’s family (he’s not even Mexican, his Grandma just decided she wanted everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving and her 90th birthday in San Miguel de Allende, one of her favorite places).

    Most of the nights we went out or had the staff at his Grandma’s home cook for us, but we decided to host the family for dinner one night. This meant shopping in an amazing market (utilizing our rusty Spanish), creating a menu of our choosing, and hosting 25 family members in our borrowed home. It was a phenomenal experience…bringing together food and family. Allowing us to really experience another culture through their food.

    Favorite food memory: Sneaking chunks of blue cheese off of the counter at my family’s restaurant before it got made into blue cheese dressing (I was 4 or 5 at the time).

  18. LB

    favorite food memory: a friend and I thinking the round of brie (at a party of course) was cheesecake and slicing off a cheesecake sized chunk…

  19. TJ

    Happy Anniversary!!!

    I cook just about every day because it’s cheaper and usually more healthy than the alternative. I enjoy cooking now, because it’s something that interests me. I used to rely heavily on appreciation of people I’d cook for, but it ruined my cooking experience a lot of times. My favorite food memories were the crepes my father would make us for breakfast on special saturdays, gumbos, crawfish boils, couvillon (which is pretty much creole bouillabaisse) made by my mother and memories of working as sous chefs with my sisters for the big meals my family would have, pecans from my great uncle’s orchards (roasted pecans, prailines, pecan pie). I could go on and on. My least favorite would have to be a turkey loaf and badly cooked rice dinner that just taught me to try harder. I think having somebody who cares about me cook something for me usually makes it taste better. Note that I said usually.

  20. Kelley

    OK, I wasn’t going to, but … you asked again! :)

    I love to cook. I learned from my mom, but we’ve sort of switched roles now because she’s not very adventurous and I am. These days, I try new techniques and recipes and pass them along to her. But do not misunderstand me, I am NOT a better cook than my mom. She is a classic, comforting cook and I want to be like her. She always remembers people’s favorite meals and even flavors. Our family meals tend to have way too many sides because she always wants each person to have his or her favorite.

    I will never be able to make my mom’s chicken soup, her breaded pork chops or her rice pilaf. She has tried to teach me these three, as she taught me so many others. But I honestly think I have some sort of mental block — I WANT her to keep making them for me. So I’ve given up. Sometimes the best thing about cooking is failing miserably and enjoying someone else’s success all the more.

  21. Rachel

    I love coooooking! I absolutely hate cleaning. I have to admit that sometimes the thought of cleaning up will deter my cooking….. I like to cook foods that reminds me of life on Guam! I have so many good memories and food is one way to recreate certain good feelings. After I lost my baby Joseph I had a phone counselor from Hospice who encouraged me to bake and find fun things to cook. I attacked breads of all sorts for a few weeks!! I still love to make homemade bread.

    I love eating foods that I can enjoy the taste of and not feel sickly full of afterwards.

Comments are closed.