Foundation Cooking

In Recipes

It is freedom for the creative soul.
It is permission to the new cook in the kitchen.
It is an opportunity to use what you have.


I love cooking, but I was never shown how to cook. In the early days of my marriage I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings while my husband slept. I would slide my slippers on, grab a bowl of cereal, crawl under a blanket on the couch and watch the Food Network for hours. I would listen to the language they used and watch how they measured, stirred, and poured. I was most interested in the ingredients they used and how they used them.

Soon it became an obsession. Learning about cooking and understanding how combinations of food work together led me to explore how to blend flavors and complement ingredients.  I was inspired to cook more, but I realized that my limited budget hindered me from following recipes exactly as the author instructed – did you know vanilla beans cost roughly $2.00 a piece?! I was left to improvise and experiment in hopes that I could create delicious meals with ingredients I could afford.

I discovered that most recipes start with a base that  you add to according to taste, budget, and availability. This is where my concept of Foundation Cooking was born: start with the very basic and improvise from there.

Oil. Vegetables. Grain. Salt. Spices. Fruit. Nuts. …You get the idea.


Every recipe starts with its basics, the foundation of what makes a meal. Then it becomes risotto, lasagna, chili, or salad. Once you establish the skeleton of what you are making, you have complete freedom to add flavor and ingredients that blend with your tastes and budget.

Do you love pumpkin? Do you have broccoli on hand? Mushroom and swiss? Chicken and peas? Use what you have to create the meal that you and/or your family will love.


I am currently obsessing over butternut squash. I grew quite a few in my garden this year and I love figuring out what to do with them. When I make soup with the squash, my foundation is butternut squash, vegetable stock, canned coconut milk, and salt. If I have apples, I add them.  If I have sage, I most definitely add it. I love changing the flavors, even throwing in some nutmeg if I am inspired to do so. If I don’t have these items on hand, I still have a very simple, tasty soup. If I don’t have vegetable stock? I don’t stress. I use water and add butter for flavor. I even the foundation is flexible when push comes to shove. The flexibility is freeing!

Foundation cooking gives you the opportunity to pair your tastes and love of certain foods with new recipes you come across. Here at Gatherhaus we love creating inspiration for the unique individual, so we always start with a foundation and then add ideas to get your artistic sensibilities flowing. This is also a great way to start reading other recipes. Find the foundation of the recipe and then you can make it your own.


If you are new in the kitchen, don’t be intimidated by concepts of foundation cooking. We want you to love cooking and feel empowered to be adventurous and innovative. Recipes are a perfect starting point, so be inspired by them but not locked into them.

Helpful Tip: As you create a meal plan for you or your family, find five foundation recipes that you love. Then when its dinner time, you have five recipes to choose from, but limitless ways to cook them! My current five are: risotto, chicken soup, tacos, lasagna, potatoes (potatoes are their own category because you can do SO much with them and they are cheap, cheap, cheap!).

Bon Appetit!


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Gatherhaus is the enchanting reality of bringing these rare and beautiful pieces together.
People, places, art, and food that inspire us and make us chase after dreams
of deep, rich community and fulfillment.


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