Profile: I’m Larina, and I love to cook…and eat…great food. I’m a self-proclaimed, never formally-trained, simple gourmet cook who enjoys putting together good meals and great parties. I also happen to believe that cooking a delicious meal doesn’t have to be a stressful, costly or time-consuming affair. Since childhood I’ve developed a love for all things culinary. Growing up, everyday dinners featured a wonderfully-prepared, delicious gourmet meal, which my mother would cook after having spent all day teaching in her elementary school classroom. Not only was I inspired by her time management and sheer stamina as a working mom, but she also impressed upon me the idea that cooking a good meal is well within reach for anyone – including those with a family and a career. I have inherited this love of cooking delicious, everyday meals, and this is what I hope to share with you. This blog is filled with inspiration for weekday (or any day!) dinners and ideas for fun and easy entertaining. I cook with mostly organic ingredients, and just about everything I make (minus the occasional birthday cake – but who doesn’t love birthday cake?!) is healthy, wholesome and nutritious. When I’m not hanging out in my kitchen, I work for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. I’m looking forward to living and working overseas, and I can’t wait to share with you some of the things I create using the fun, new and exciting ingredients that I find along the way! Besides cooking, I love traveling, hiking, knitting, reading, doing yoga, watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and hanging out with my wonderful boyfriend, Mark, who is kind enough to act as the guinea pig that taste-tests my kitchen experiments. (Thank you!) Some of my other favorite things include…Perusing the farmers market on Sundays; The first sunny, warm days of spring; Soy lattes; Dark chocolate and red wine; Cheese and red wine; Basically anything with red wine…ooh, and I love a good, flavorful amber beer, too; U.S. National Parks; Discovering new music; Arranging fresh flowers; Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! on NPR; Tasting my dishes while cooking; Autumn colors, spices, and produce; Watching the herbs on my windowsill grow…and enjoying them with food; Icy cold popsicles on a hot summer day; Sleeping in and snuggling under warm covers; Hanging out with my family on the back deck at my parents’ house – especially at sunset; The first snowfall of winter; Dulce de leche – on just about everything!

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