Confessions of a Chef’s Wife: A Blog Series by Leslee McGowan

Part I: What’s for Dinner?

Oftentimes, I find myself commiserating with other moms about our hectic schedules; the trials and tribulations of keeping all the balls in the air at once. You know the drill…work, yard, house, always running to some practice, game, appointment, blah blah blah. Don’t even try to think about jamming in a little fun time for yourself! And not just moms and dads, but everyone’s lives are busy. There is really not much time in the day after that. So, what gets cut short? Dinner, packed lunches with real food, a wholesome breakfast. Whaaaaa? However, as a chef’s wife, I find that I don’t suffer quite as much — at least about, “Mommmmm! What’s for dinner?”

I’m a lucky girl…what can I say? For those who don’t know me, hi, I’m Leslee! My chef-husband Rob and I own McGowan & Sons, a fresh seafood market in Valparaiso, Indiana. Rob used to do the majority of cooking in our house, but since we’ve opened the store and he is there for insane hours…guess who’s up to bat? For pure egotistical reasons, I find myself needing to keep up our awesome meals. Ok, I guess I want the kids to be healthy too. But nothing gets me crazier than hearing, “Not as good as Dad’s.” Nothing makes me happier than hearing, “Did Dad cook this?” But at the end of the day (literally and figuratively), I know I have it way easier than most people.

Why is our dinner time routine easier than most? Well…first let’s be honest…I have a built-in chef. I take advantage of all of Rob’s house-made prep items (scratch-made stocks, finishing sauces, and spice blends). *See Lucky Girl as noted above! But what if you don’t have a ‘Rob’ for the things beyond what we have in the store? I think I may have some answers!

Since meeting Rob nearly 20 years ago, I have picked up a few tidbits about professional kitchen practices. I am hoping to share some of these practices with you to make meal planning and cooking much easier. With these pro chef tricks in your arsenal, wholefoods meals (not the store, Whole Foods, but the actual dictionary term, wholefoods, meaning, food with little or no refining or processing and containing no artificial additives or preservatives) can be as quick as the drive-thru or a box. Now, don’t give me a hard time if you see me in the drive-thru, sometimes you just have to make a run for the border…but I’m always sorry later!

These pro kitchen practices are so much a part of our lives that I have forgotten that many people don’t even know about these little tricks. At McGowan & Sons, I find myself offering up some of these helpful tips to customers. This is such a happy part of my job because I love helping people discover the joy of preparing a great meal without the stress. And thus…Confessions of a Chef’s Wife was born! This blog is the first in a series where I share what I’ve learned. I hope to help people to take the stress out of, “What’s for dinner?”

This is a safe place to find cooking help because, although I like preparing food, I am by no means a skilled cook…I just have a lot of easy tricks up my sleeve. Thanks, Rob!

We have had lots of food adventures together as a family and I am excited to share a little more about us and provide helpful information. Come say “hi” at McGowan & Son’s: 1607 Burlington Beach Road, Valparaiso, IN 46383 (we’re the blue building with the orange crab on the side just two blocks west of Calumet) and call us if you have any questions at: 219.299.2336. You can start taking the stress out of dinner time tonight by picking up one of our McGowan Meals in a Minute!

Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the second installment of this series “Hassle-Free Wholefoods Cooking”. See you soon!