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September 25, 2020

Food that inspires me to cook!

Posted on March 31, 2014 by in baked goods, vegetables

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Food has become such an integral  part of our lives! Yes, we do eat 3 times a day, but what I mean by this statement is that it has infiltrated in almost all areas of our lives. A few years back, a car was advertised with a half naked blond draped over the bonnet, these days, more and more car ads have food in it! Skincare and make-up ads are making a mockery of my senses and sometimes I have to read the ad text twice to see if it is a food or make-up ad.

Food after all equals to fuel and without it, we will soon become weak and unable to do our daily jobs. Food however is so much more than that. Food also comforts, heals and nourishes our bodies. The two qualities of food that I want to talk about today is that food brings people together and it certainly inspires me to cook creatively.

After I have written my cookbook, Easy Cooking from Nina’s Kitchen, the one question that I was asked most is: “Nina, what inspires you to cook and try out new recipes and where do you get all the recipes from?” This question had me thinking and here is what inspires me to cook….


People inspire me to cook

I cook for people…. friends, family yes and also total strangers. My husband would think nothing of inviting total strangers on the beach to join us for supper. I am always horrified at the thought, but we have met amazing people this way! Nothing inspires me more than a long table with hoards of hungry people to feed!


Seasons inspire me to cook

With the subtle signs of a new season arriving, I am always inspired to grab the first fruits or vegetables of that specific season and start cooking. The first summer peas become a beautiful salad with shades of green and delicious Fairview Chevin and with the arrival of the first summer berries, I simply have to make a terrine in celebration of this bounty! When Jack Frost starts nipping at my nose, the soup and stew pots are hauled out the cupboards and this easy Lamb stew is just the comfort you need from the chill in the air. So yes, eating seasonally definitely inspires me to cook!


Food and Ingredients inspire me to cook

I am often seen with my basket or trolley at the local food markets or supermarkets. If you happen to bump into me, it may seem to you that I am wandering aimlessly, but I am seeking inspiration and new exciting ingredients to cook with. It does not always have to be exotic or expensive…… a fresh bunch of leeks inspired this delicious Leek and Parmesan quiche and a bag of mealies from a street vendor started the thinking process for these Low-Carb Beef Tamales! There are however 3 ingredients I cannot ignore…..



Although my family and I are following a low-carb eating program and bread is nowhere to be found in this house, I go weak in the knees at the sight of a freshly bake bread. All kinds of bread, yes, even the super-white-not-good-for-me bread finds my Achilles heel. If it says “freshly-baked”, it gets my attention! On a more serious not though, if I have to commit the mortal sin of eating bread, it will have to be a crusty, wholegrain, stone-ground bread. I love the texture of the crust, the smell of the yeast and the slight char marks from the wood-fired oven it was bake in. I also love baking bread for people, it is my labor of love when invited to a dinner or lunch party and this Smokey Onion and Olive Beer Bread is a no-fail recipe!



I love the idea of always having fresh herbs in my kitchen. My herb garden has taken a turn for the worst at the moment due to the heat and lack of time on my side, but I will revive it as soon as Spring arrives. My herb butter is lovely on fish, baked potatoes or on a ciabatta! Any meal or recipe can be so much better if you make use of simple herbs like parsley, oregano or thyme. A sandwich with freshly picked rocket just shouts “Bite Me” with a loud voice and I find it very hard to resist, and most inspiring to cook with!



After finishing my book and just before I sent it off to the publishers, I glanced through it one more time, just the have a final check and it dawned on me that I am a carnivore at heart. I love big pieces of meat, because it has so much potential. A huge leg of lamb can feed a family with all the uncles, aunts and cousins with no problem and  a big beef roast brings many smiles to your table. So when I see a good piece of meat, it is very hard to pass by.



Don’t get me wrong, I love all fruits, but there is just something about figs that inspires me not only to cook or bake but also to grab the camera and start shooting. I love their shape, color and of course the textures on the inside of the fig is hard to beat. These Fig and Cheese tarts were the result of such an inspiration!

So, what inspires you to cook? Tell me in the comments below and I will choose the most original answer!

The most original answer will win you a signed copy of my book Easy Cooking from Nina’s Kitchen!

Competition ends 15 April.


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19 Responses to “Food that inspires me to cook!”

  1. Karin B 31 March 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Curry inspires me to be creative. (Different mixes Curry, turmeric, bay leaves etc combined)

  2. Christabel Garisch 31 March 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    To see people content and happy after having a great meal. Nothing like sitting back watching them eat your food and ENJOYING it. That moment right there is inspiration for the next meal.

  3. Santie Grobler 31 March 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Vars bestanddele, spesiale versoeke, inligtingsessies soos wat jy op RSG op Donderdagoggende aanbied en prente/foto’s van mooi kos…..maak my lus om iets self uit Te probeer. Soms ook die uitdaging om ‘n klassieke gereg of ‘n moderne aanslag uit Te probeer.
    …net om Te sê EK KAN!!!

  4. Melissa 31 March 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Cheese, glorious cheese,inspires me to cook and bake. I love cheese in all shapes and smells from Brie to Blue, and this calls for a variety of delicasies! 🙂

  5. bellini 31 March 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Discovering heirloom carrots, fingerling potatoes or zucchini flowers at my local markets would all find me heading to the kitchen.

  6. Carin 31 March 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    ek kook baie min, maar gesonde, vars groente op die “outydse manier” uitgestal laat my vingers kriewel – groente in ballasmandjies gepluk, melk in ‘n melkbottel en eiers in die enamel-emmertjie waarin dit uigehaal is…
    patats wat nog na grond ruik, groenpampoen wat se stingel nog traan…
    vars melk en eiers moet pannekoek of vla word…

  7. Marie 31 March 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    Herbs always inspire me to cook and try new combinations . I love to experiment with herbs and I guess that’s why I’m trying my own new recipes all the time .

  8. Cecile vd Westhuizen 31 March 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Tuisgebakte brood, regte botter en kaas. Koningsmaaltyd enige tyd van die dag. In die oggend saam met koffie en jou gesin, in die middag saam met wyn, familie en vriende en in die aand saam met tee. En dit is tog die idee van bestandele om saam te bind om iets te maak. So maak brood, botter en kaas = samesyn, lag en geluk

  9. That Indian Girl 31 March 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    A hungry rumbling tummy inspires me to cook 🙂

    Seriously, a trip to Woolworths Food and a well stocked pantry gets the creative juices flowing and the sense of achievement I accomplish when I see the satisfied looks on my family’s faces inspire me to be adventurous and try out new and exotic dishes.

  10. Tania Horne 1 April 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Brinjals!!!!! Beautiful, lushcious and magical brinjals. Eggplants!!! Love everything about brinjals. The taste, the texture, the dishes you can create with a single brinjal. The most amazing vegetable to work with. I go all “gaga” when I see fresh firm and young brinjals. Even the baby brinjals in Thai food is just spectacular.

  11. Karin de Villiers 1 April 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Enige vorm van oorskietkos, maar deesdae ook Pinterest foto’s!

  12. Sam Taylor 1 April 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Congratulations on your book Nina. If I really think about it the things that inspires me most to cook are my emotions and as I get older my memories. I remember the smell of a place or a person’s kitchen and how it made me feel and then I try to recreate that moment in food from my “rememberings”.

  13. Renette Vosloo 1 April 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Nina I’m so with you on the meat! (and I’m an animal-loving-freak)!! Lately I have fallen for game, in any form. If I could lay my hands on a young pheasant, I’d roast it simply – with a little good salt & pepper; covered & slow at first (one hour) and crisp it before serving for 20 min at +-220C. A side sauce of Port, Red Wine & Kloovenburg Olive Jam, mixed with the pan juices will complete the play. Served with wilted spinach & a cheesy butternut mash. My oh my…THAT inspires me: the mere thought of autumn perfection.

    • Renette Vosloo 1 April 2014 at 10:47 am #

      would you be so kind as to correct my typo? covered thanks! 🙂

  14. Adele du Du Toit 1 April 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    ‘n Blink bruin ui!!!
    Daar is niks wat my meer die potte laat nader pluk as mooi gesonder vars groente nie, maar ‘n mooi gevormde blink bruin ui is my nommer een inspirasie.

  15. Deidre Gatley 2 April 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Cooking is my creative outlet. Some people paint, some people are musically talented and yet others are brilliant dancers, singers or actresses.

    I cook.

    Cooking allows me freedom to create a special meal for family or friends. My dishes are often build around new and magical ingredients which I may have discovered. At least, they are magical to me…

    Ingredients which inspire me are : olives, cheeses, capers, balsamic, cardamom, vanilla, blue berries, appeliefies, chocolate, chillies, honey, nuts, sundried tomatoes, garlic, fresh rosemary… the list, and my inspiration, grows daily.

  16. Thys 3 April 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Vanilla, Vanilla & nog Vanilla. A million and 1 uses! Vanilla saam with vis (Vanilla Mayo) – Vanilla bad sout – Vanilla Suiker – Vanilla bean in die kas of jou motor laat alles altyd lekker ryk. En dan natuurlik enige iets soets kort atlyd bietjie Vanilla Liefde

  17. Mareca 3 April 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Hi Nina, I am not much of a meat person, but chicken, lemon juice and a bit of garlic really inspires me. Quick and simple and I love the left overs the next day. I must add that you inspire me. I love your blog and listen to you every Thursday morning on RSG.. you are such an inspiration to me and I would love to own your cookbook!All the best, Mareca

  18. Lynne Bindeman 3 April 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Italian & German food.
    Olives, pastrami, cervelat, ciabatta, garlic
    German dishes: Kalbsreisfleisch (Braised veal & rise).
    Sauerkraut, eisbein, real german potatoe salad (kartoffelen salat), speckknodel(Bacon dumplings).picled gherkins, Liptauer cheese & real rye bread.

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