Hi I’m Lesley. I am a stay-at-home mother to 3 wonderful boys.

When I got married in 2003 and took on the ‘housewife’ role I had to quickly learn the art of delicious home cooking. My local library became my best friend and I’m pretty sure I’ve checked out every cookbook at one point or another. I have filled notebooks with pages of recipe ideas as well as numerous word documents. Of course, that was life, pre-Pinterest! How on earth did we survive? Now I have boards full of recipe ideas.

I have a wonderful, patient husband who has been my guinea pig and he has had to endure A LOT !!!! I think the ‘worst’ offering put on a plate was a Chicken Ranch Orzo dish from a Betty Crocker cookbook, it was horrible, but the worse part was my in-laws stopped by to visit just as I was serving it, major embarrassment as his mother is a great cook and even though she worked she put a hot cooked meal on the table every night. By the way, Betty Crocker recipes have been banned, too many shortcuts and if you want it to taste good you are going to have put in a little effort in most cases! There have been other lessons like ‘Spice-control’ that I will share along the way. 

I was born and raised in Northern Ireland, UK and moved to Louisiana, USA when I met my husband. Five years ago we packed up and moved to the Sunshine State of Florida! I grew up in the country and have wonderful memories of the coal burning aga stove that we cooked on. Homemade scones and soda farls, stews and roasts. I don’t actually remember shopping at a ‘grocery store’ until my teens, we got our meat from the butcher, fruit, and vegetables were homegrown or bought from local farmers or the little store in my hometown. I’m so thankful that Banbridge, my hometown, still has the same butcher, bakeries (that have the most delicious pastries), greengrocer and all the other little shops. It has big chain supermarkets but somehow they have managed to co-exist which nowadays seems to be rare!

Louisiana became my adopted home and I loved my time there. The thing I love the most about Louisiana (and trust me it is not the humidity or hot climate) is the food. My taste in food has changed because of my introduction to Cajun food! With a bounty of seafood that is beyond delicious and fused cooking techniques that although require patience are well worth the hard work, never mind the SPICES!!!! Chicken and Sausage Gumbo is my new comfort food!! And Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning is a stable in my kitchen, I wonder how I survived the first 25 years of my life without a little dash here and there!

Moving to Florida has taken my culinary adventure to a new level. We have been moving more and more towards a self-sufficient living and farm-to-fork lifestyle. It seemed to be a natural progression from cooking from scratch to growing and raising. Being more involved in the process of what goes into my mouth has made food more alive and real. I value what I eat. We started Rester Farms on our few acres that we just moved. We currently have chickens and bees and look forward to adding aquaponics and goats.

Home Cooking Mama started 7 years ago during my learning curve of cooking from scratch. Back in 2007, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which is a pre-diabetic condition. I did get pregnant soon after and haven’t really approached a complete diet overhaul, which I know is only a matter of time before I have to. However, I did try to adopt principle number one in the diet plan NO MORE PROCESSED FOOD! Oh, how it has taken over our diets! So I started making changes like instead of using the Jambalaya box mix and adding chicken I learnt how to make it from scratch and although it requires a little more work it so well worth the effort. I’ll share that one at a later date!!!! I do still have a few ‘cheats’ like using jarred spaghetti sauce, I haven’t braved that one yet, maybe come tomato season next year that and canning can be an experiment!

I have developed a calendar spreadsheet so I can plan my meals out for the month and make sure that, even though we may eat a dish 2 nights in a row, we only do it once a month. Variety is the spice of life (after Tony’s!) and it helps keep things interesting. I will be sharing my calendar and how I do my planning. I like to use fresh ingredients and that means that at least once a week I’m going to have to make a trip. It also removes the need for that ‘what should I cook for dinner tonight?’ question.

So with all that said my style is traditional cooking, from fresh ingredients, from scratch with as little processed food as possible, with a little Cajun spice. I’ll be sharing many of my experiments because I am still very much a work in progress and by no means am I an ‘expert’. I’m just a busy mother who wants to put a healthy home cooked meal on the table every night. 

I hope you enjoy the blog!