10273670_10206868338281510_7842280737550135510_nAlexandra is my name, but most people that go beyond having one class together with me learn that I go by Sasha. Sasha fierce? – Not really. Just Sasha. What’s the shortened version of Alexandra? Alex. How many Alex’s exist in the universe? Gazillions. To put it more simply, Alex = Sasha (in Russian). Russian? I came to Chicago from Ukraine 23 years ago. One of the best compliments I receive at least once a month is, “Oh wow! Your English speaking skills are really great.” Well, my English speaking skills better be freaking great since I did grow up here but thank you for the lovely compliment (insert sarcastic smiley here). Don’t be afraid, I am not a hothead, that goes away with age.

One of my role models once said that, “In your 20’s you get lost, in your 30’s you find yourself, in your 40’s you shut up and make money and in your 50’s you give back to the community.” He told me when he reaches the 60’s he’ll share what happens next. So that brings us to age. Currently, I’m in my mid 20’s, so I’m supposed to be half way lost and half way newly-discovered but if you average mine and my husband’s age, we are closer to our 30’s (just with awesome 20 year old skin). My husband and I met sailing on Lake Michigan. I was hung over and dragged by my friend to be social on an extra sunny Sunday morning and my husband was a bachelor with 3 babes as his ‘dates’ on the same boat. Stuck on one boat sailing with strangers, you are eventually forced to meet people. Our elbows touched and let me just tell you that the rest was history. Oh wait, somehow after meeting my future husband at the time, it’s as if I was sprinkled by the magical-cooking-glitter-fairy. All I wanted to do was to impress a man with 7 Eleven sandwiches and Diet Coke (ew) in his refrigerator with the art of home cooking and making him fall in love with me (insert evil laugh here).

Growing up with a full house of foreigners and too many women in the kitchen, I was not allowed in the kitchen during the cooking process. As a kid I didn’t mind that I wasn’t needed in the kitchen because clearly playing Barbies was more awesome. Fast forward to becoming an adult and living on your own, eating on a daily basis becomes unpleasant. It’s not the healthiest option. I started to take some cooking lessons and began exploring the food cultures. The control possessed in the kitchen over how to prepare your food and what ingredients it’s made of is life changing. Experimenting with new foods and healthier substitute options was not only a healthier lifestyle choice, it was also a fun stress reliever. Also, when you are married it’s cool to cook and invite other married couples over to modestly show off your genius cooking skills (and if you are single we can’t be friends…just kidding). From meal prep, to the cooking process, the final presentation and the outcome is such a happy feeling. My wish is to spread the growing desire to cook at home and live a healthier lifestyle through food choices. Feeling good is a smile changer at the end of the day.