Have you ever opened up a cookbook or a magazine and seen one of those picture-perfect dishes that obviously took hours to make and whose presentation clearly required both the steady hands of a neurosurgeon and the unwavering concentration of an acrobat about to cross the high wire without a safety net? In my mind’s eye, I can nail those recipes on my very first try, winning accolades and admiring looks from adoring family and friends. In reality, I just turn the page and pretend I never saw it, because it just isn’t going to happen for me in this lifetime.
Let’s face it. We all have jobs, responsibilities and our own physical limitations that totally torpedo our culinary fantasies. We have deadlines to meet, laundry to fold, kids, spouses and other loved ones who are waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for our attention and we need to do mundane things like sleep on occasion, because we aren’t superhuman. I am truly in awe of the few, the mega-talented and the exceptionally artistic kitchen rock stars who can do it all and make it look easy and I sincerely hope one of them will invite me over to share her gustatory masterpieces. For the rest of us common folk, there is “Cooking With Tantrums,” a delightful new blog that totally understands what it is like to whip egg whites while simultaneously juggling a crying baby, monitoring homework time and trying not to trip on the Lego pieces that mysteriously carpet the kitchen floor night after night.
“Cooking with Tantrums” is the brainchild of Flatbush resident Esty Wolbe, a 29-year-old sheitel macher who is also the mother of three kids aged nine, six and three. Unlike most other bloggers who start with a blog that they eventually promote on social media, Esty’s blog has its roots in a Facebook group created 10 years ago.
“I was 19 and newly married and while I have always loved cooking and come from a long line of really great cooks, I just wasn’t into cooking at the time,” Esty told Olam Yehudi. “Living in Brooklyn it was easy to go out and so cheap. We could eat out every night, never have leftovers, and, with so many places, you could go to a different place every night and not have to repeat for a very long time.”
Facebook had just introduced its groups feature at the time and a friend started a group for Esty called “I Don’t Cook But I Give Out Recipes.”
“It was kind of a joke,” recalled Esty. “We never really expected it to turn into anything. If we had a family barbeque we would post pictures and I would share recipes when I ate something really good, but that was pretty much about it.”
Over time, the group attracted a significant following and two years ago Esty discovered it had grown to about 8,000 members who were busy trading recipes, sharing pictures of their own creations and looking for ideas for great weeknight suppers or interesting Shabbos desserts. Esty began taking a more hands-on approach and soon, like a challah with too much yeast, the group mushroomed dramatically, more than doubling in size.
“I started giving it 24-hour attention, monitoring it all day long,” said Esty. “It was like having another 16,000 kids. If I had five minutes here or there during my day, I would grab a few minutes and tend to the blog.”
After numerous requests from her fans to launch a blog of her own, Esty took the plunge this past May, with a blog that is delightfully realistic and a surprisingly fun read. Her first post gets right to the point: “I’ve always said I’d pay good money to watch a cooking show feature a mom with a screaming toddler on her leg. She would be my hero. How refreshing, the truth for once. And just think of all the valuable things we could learn. Like how to make a nutritious dinner entirely single handed because the baby is teething this week. Or, I don’t know, how to chop onions while rocking a cradle with your foot.”