When you’re growing up, you don’t understand nor appreciate what goes into mealtime. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. They’re all just what you’re waiting for when you’re hungry. As you eventually move out, you realize (quite fast) that there is a lot more than goes into mealtime than simply saying “I’m hungry.”

The groceries, the time spent thinking what you’re going to make, and inevitably, the making. I would make the argument that when you’re young (whether that be a child, or to living on your own for the first time) you’ll always think of eating out as the best option. When you’re a kid it’s because “Yay Chicken Fingers!” When you’re an adult it’s, “Yay Chicken Fingers I Don’t Have to Make!” As time goes on though, the thought of going out for a meal you could make better at home just doesn’t cut it anymore. You want a quiet night in with a great bottle of wine and a warm cooked meal. It’s for this reason I learned how to cook.

What I also learned through cooking and eating at home, was that you can create some spectacular bonds over food. Going to a restaurant your conversations can be overshadowed by the noise and bustle of the place you’re eating. You may not want to share intimate details at your local diner either. When you’re in someone’s home though, you feel a lot more comfortable. It’s for this reason I started to host and invested in a dining table to squeeze into my small, one bedroom condo. It started with the regular holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, where I would have friends over who didn’t have somewhere to go, and we’d share a beautiful home cooked dinner over wine, music all night, and stories that I can still tell you today. It has since evolved into brunches, “no reason” dinners, and celebrations! The amount of people I have gone from being acquaintances to, or barely knowing, to having a much deeper understanding and respect for as a result of these meals is countless.

It also brings me to my next point: When you go out for dinner you’ll likely forget your meal. When you host or are hosted, you’ll likely remember that night and have those memories forever. I’ve had guests who have told me months later how they still think about certain dishes I’ve made. I can also tell you about meals I’ve had made for me that changed the way I’ve viewed certain foods. Can I tell you about my last meal out? Not really. There are a few standout dinners, but they lack in comparison to the memories, stories, and unforgettable evenings I have had in with those I love. If you can, do your best to have people over this year. It will change your outlook, and give you a newfound respect for the art of a home cooked meal.

Speaking of things that friends have talked to me about months after making them, my roasted carrots have become somewhat of a signature of mine. Spiced to perfection and roasted until they’re perfect- you’ll definitely want this on your table for your next dinner in.

Ingredients:
2lb sliced, crinkle, or baby carrots
3tsp cinammon
3 tsp black pepper
3 tsp hot paprika
3 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. In a large freezer bag, combine all spices, olive oil and sesame oil
  3. Pour carrots into bag and seal
  4. Shake bag until carrots are well coated
  5. Spread carrots on baking sheet with parchment paper
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’ve begun to crisp
  7. Enjoy!

I love when you try your hands at what I’ve put together! Feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and what you did below, and if you made it, tag me on Instagram at @JackDHarding

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