Hey, I'm James.

about-me-portrait

Full Name: James Edward Trenda
Hometown: Germantown, Maryland
Height: 6-feetish (with shoes)
Birthday: September 27
Favorite food: Anything that takes less than 30 minutes to cook and anything that takes more than 8 hours to cook.
Favorite movie: Gladiator
Favorite foodie TV shows: Chopped – because there’s always an ingredient I’ve never heard of before. Tyler’s Ultimate – because it’s calming and I know I’m going to want whatever he’s cooking. And Cutthroat Kitchen – because the auction items are hilarious.
Favorite non-foodie TV shows: King of Queens, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond and Conan (O’Brien)
Favorite bands/artists: The Starting Line. Sam Smith. Paramore. Katy Perry. Drake. Ed Sheeran. Taking Back Sunday. Maroon 5. Rihanna. Jason Derulo – to name a few.
Favorite quote:“A person’s greatest strength is knowing where they’re weakest.” – Chef Curtis Stone on an episode of Top Chef Masters.
Favorite TV chef: Tyler Florence followed closely by Alton Brown (only because all Alton seems to do is host nowadays).
Favorite life moment: That day I went on that road trip with that girl.
A pet peeve: People who wear glasses when it is not optically necessary. Also, people who don’t wear glasses, but probably should.

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“The act of eating what the earth has sown is perhaps the most intimate experience one can have with nature.”

I don’t know who said that, but I tend to agree.

Hi. I’m James. Not Jim. Not Jimmy. Not Jimbo Billy Bob (only Mom can call me that). Just James. In high school, most people called me by my last name. I don’t know why. I guess that’s just what you do when you have one of those last names.

So how did I get here? I mean, what’s the point of this blog and why should you stick around? Well, those are excellent questions. Thanks for asking. I could probably answer them very simply by saying it was inevitable and if you don’t like my food or photography, I will at least entertain you with my words. But hopefully, you will like the other stuff, too.

In late 2012, around the new year, my wife, Mary Lynn, came across something called Paleo. She’s an RD and is fascinated by anything that has to do with nutrition, so naturally she became intrigued and enthusiastic about the Paleo movement. I use the term “movement” loosely with the understanding that there is nothing new about it. Sadly, and I do mean sadly, we’ve been duped into thinking differently about food – that it comes from a box with confusing labels and catch phrases and unverified claims plastered all over it in order to distract from the truth. Or worse yet, that food comes from a drive-thru window. Knowing that I too appreciate a healthy lifestyle, Mary shared this information with me and asked if we could buy Diane’s book. So we did that and lived happily ever after.

You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie. – Astrid Alauda

I’m being facetious of course because it can actually be very difficult to make the transition from the Standard American Diet to a much better one. But we did it, and so can anyone else for that matter. I’m proud to say that my mom is now on board and is losing weight like never before. That’s not to say that she was morbidly obese or plagued with health problems, but I’m so proud of her for finally taking control of her own health. I can sense her already tearing up (or L.O.L.ing) so let’s move on.

Unlike many who transition to this lifestyle, I do not have any glaring symptoms or signs of poor health. I did not choose to eat this way because I felt I had no other choice. For all intents and purposes, I was very healthy before I ever heard the term Paleo. And I use the term healthy loosely because I wasn’t necessarily eating as healthy as it might have seemed. In fact, before I started down this road to better nutrition, I was going to Panera Bread at least once a day for breakfast, if not also for lunch. “At least it’s not McDonald’s,” I’d justify to myself. But it’s not like I was getting salads. My answer to “An apple or chips?” was “I’ll take that cookie … and throw in that cheese danish while you’re at it.” And if Mary didn’t want her baguette, I had no problem finishing that off, too. And I never gained an ounce. OK, maybe a few, but seriously, I should probably have been at least 20 pounds overweight at that time.

“That’s great, James, but why a blog?”

Oh, right. Well, I started taking pictures of food that I made after making the seemingly painless transition to Paleo and I posted them to Instagram. At the time, my photo skills were not great. When you get a sec, take a look at one of my first Instagrams ever. I was kind of against the whole Instagram “movement” at first. And I use the term “movement” literally. I wasn’t into photography then, so I understood it, but I didn’t get it, if that makes any sense.

What really drove me to start this blog, aside from my own passions, was the encouragement and support I received from Instagram followers and family members. It’s been practically demanded that I start a blog. And my popularity on Instagram started to grow after a guest post, and another, and another. And then another.

Blogging always seemed like a really nice thought to me, but not something with which I was truly comfortable. I mean, you kinda have to put yourself out there and that’s scary, especially for an introvert like me. I hate talking in front of large groups of people. And for me, large is more than five. In school, I always wanted to present last, or immediately after someone who bombed. So you can see, I don’t care much for attention and I’m not good at being vulnerable.

“OK, then why start a blog?”

I remembered how much I love to write and how the process of writing ripens my thoughts. Writing is uncomfortable, but in a whole different way. As a 5th grader, I had dreams of writing screenplays and my own novel, or a comic book, or at the very least a doodle with words next to it. But at some point, I started focusing more on sports, and I absolutely hated to read (still do), which is not good if you want to be a writer. Not the sports part, but the part about hating to read.

I haven’t always been a foodie. Even now, there are countless foods that have yet to touch these lips and more ways to prepare food than I’ve dared to try or even know about, but one of my goals for this blog is to change that – to experiment with traditional flavors and preparations and discover new ones along the way. I want to improve my knife skills. I want to learn how to fillet a fish. I want to smoke something. I mean like a pig, or at least part of one. If you want to learn how to do those things too, then stick around.

But I don’t just love to cook and eat, as my tagline suggests. I also love watching movies, baseball, the 49ers, and web development. And I’ve recently gotten into photography, particularly food and still life photography. But there is a ton of knowledge (and equipment) yet to be absorbed by this brain, so if you’re in to that kind of thing (photography … not neurology), then hopefully I’ve got something here for you as well.

“People who give you their food give you their heart.” – Cesar Chavez

In closing (Haha, I guess all those speeches paid off), cooking is how I express love; it’s my love language, you might say. And even though there are few many moments in life more aggravating than frantically attempting to hush a skittish smoke detector or searing your hand on a scalding hot skillet, cooking is my stress reliever. My kitchen is my home within my home.¬†Once I’ve got my apron a fastened and my cast iron pan a smokin’ and I get a cookin’, that is when I’m at peace.

Cooking can be hard. In fact, it is hard and it’s no fun when a recipe doesn’t turn out like the one in the picture. So I’ll do my very best to only post recipes that work – every time. But just remember that failure is a part of life and that includes cooking. I want you to know that it’s okay to fail. I fail all the time at stuff. And how many times have you seen an accomplished chef on a competition show say they make – fill in the blank – all the time at their restaurant and then go and mess it up? At least once per show. Hopefully, I’ll have provided you with recipes that make it impossible to screw up, but screw ups happen to the best of cooks. Once you know what doesn’t work well, the correct formula becomes obvious, or less obscure anyway. Just keep cooking and have fun.

“Cooking is an observation-based process that you can’t do if you’re so focused on a recipe.” – Alton Brown