Kitchen Secrets

Kitchen Secrets, originally uploaded by Foodwoolf.

There are things that we do at home–private things—that people never witness. Shaving in the shower, flossing teeth, scratching a hidden itch, dusting the bookshelves in pajamas or eating an over-ripe mango seed over the sink. In these solitary moments we are the most unpolished versions of ourselves.

There are things we do in the kitchen—unspeakable things—that our food loving friends don’t know about. Reheating five-day leftovers because there’s nothing else to eat. Cutting a corner of moldy cheese away and eating around the rest. Employing the “two second rule” to wayward foods too expensive or too limited to lose. Playing Iron Chef Leftover (only to lose terribly at our own game). We hide in the light of the refrigerator as we sneak a heaping spoonful of butterscotch sauce or peanut butter or one last bite of ice cream when no one is looking. We eat frozen food and tell no one.

Money is tight, hours grow short

After a long day of writing, I had less than an hour to shower, dress, and feed myself enough to keep hunger at bay during my eight hour, break-free restaurant shift. I grabbed a frozen Trader Joe’s pizza from the freezer, pulled a white onion from the crisper drawer and ripped a handful of fresh herbs from my purple basil plant.

As I drizzled a finishing olive oil over arranged onion slices and ripped basil on my $4 frozen pizza, I considered this covert business of consuming something I knew I shouldn’t be. I wondered if other food loving people do such things. Has a shortage of time, limited funds and unabashed cravings driven other foodies to hide away Twinkies and sneak purchases from the frozen food section?

As an arbiter of great pizza (I wait tables at a three-star pizzeria), the last thing I should be eating is a frozen pizza.
Kitchen Secrets

But for four dollars, ten minutes cooking time in the oven, and a handful of fresh ingredients to mask the almost cardboard flavor of the frozen pizza, this is a secret meal deal that just can’t be beat.

I know its been said “you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear”, but you can definitely gussy it up.Kitchen Secrets

Question of the week: is there anyone else out there with kitchen secrets they fear to share?


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. Allison
    August 31

    I have been known to buy (gasp!) premade, prepackaged sushi in times of hunger, cravings, or other desperation. Shameful, I know, but when I’ve spent five or six hours at a time making sushi for Sushi Day, sometimes I just want the quick and easy route. 😛

    I see nothing wrong with your secret frozen pizza… Son loves frozen pizza. We used to always have the freezer stocked full of it. Of course, I wouldn’t consider myself a true foodie… as one might guess from my freezer full of microwave dinners.

  2. jazzjune
    August 31

    Food Confession: If something needs a quick flavor boost, I usually add garlic salt.

  3. Brooke
    August 31

    Allison, deep sigh. Thank god I’m not alone!

  4. white on rice couple
    September 1

    Hooray, hooray for this post! We have always been fans of fresh food, but always honest enough to admit that we eat fast food too. We have no problem gussying up our meals starting from ramen noodle packets, to jarred tomato sauces, to leftovers ,to otter pops, and to banana twinkies. When time is of the essence, finances are tight and when we're famished, we're not going to go through a whole production for a dinner. That's just too much work.

    One can still eat well, but quick & simple and inexpensive. Your pizza is a classic example of smart, conscious eating because you incorporated fresh elements to an already better quality frozen pizza. I'd serve that at a party anytime! Shhh…., our guests won't know when they see it coming out of the oven! 😉

  5. Kenzie
    September 5

    Although I’m not a fan of the show on the Food Network, when I get busy I find myself cooking “Semi-Homemade” – OR – eating a frozen dinner (although I try to keep it a little higher quality than your average TV dinner . . . like Kashi, Trader Joe’s, etc.).
    It sure doesn’t give me any good blog material, but it’s necessary sometimes. Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels that way!

  6. May 8

    you know, in the last few weeks I put a mental sign up above my favorite window, and when i look out the window, I am reminded…….
    “you. may. nap.”

    Its a luxury Ive only given myself recently, but giving myself permission to do that has made my life easier! I’ve started taking the same approach to food. I have allergies to… well, all the main foods, so much so that I can buy pretty much NOTHING prepackaged and edible except jam, and seaweed snacks from trader joes. To bake anything, i have to toast and grind cereal grains for flour, mix them in the right ratios, and that takes time, and thats BEFORE I have…FLOUR. So I’ve allowed myself to say, when its midnight… “I’m not gonna be able to do two more turns on this puff pastry.” Even though I’ve planned and cooked all day for this to be dinner. Even though it will be a BRAT to thaw and try to roll tomorrow. Wherever I am in prep (within reason), it goes into the freezer, where the popsicles are. Spoonful of almond butter and honey, popsicle, and seaweed it is.

    and I SO hear you, about that last secret spoonful of peanut butter. both my mother AND I used to do it when I was a kid, and my dad would just sigh and roll his eyes whenever he caught either of us. My mom and I still giggle when we run into each other around midnight during my visits home, both going for the peanut butter jar

    remember, we must feed our brains so we can think enough to cook! And if all you have is chocolate pudding….its your duty to cook well, it would be irresponsible NOT to nibble 🙂

    • Food Woolf
      May 10

      What a lovely and thoughtful comment! Thank you for this peek into your life and some insights into all the things you do to make eating at your home so special. Thank you for taking the time to write me such lovely words!

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