Season with Salt, Pepper, and Family
Macie Staheli, contributing writer
Kim Winward is not only senior vice president at American Secure Title Insurance Agency here in Cache Valley, she is also a hard-working wife and mom of two teenage girls. With memories and traditions of her family together around a dinner table marinating throughout the day, she comes home and starts cooking.
‘Chiffonade,’ ‘julienne,’ and ‘season with salt and pepper’ are terms regularly used in Kim’s kitchen. After pulling away from a long day of work and the hair from her face, she clocks into parenting mode by making dinner for her family. Some days she’s been at the office for ten-plus hours attending meetings and signing paperwork at her desk. Instead of stopping for takeout on the way home, desktops become countertops spread with an array of colorful ingredients sliced paper thin and pans filled with tangy sauces. For any parent, cooking dinner can be time consuming and tedious.
When asked why she takes the time to home cook meals rather than order takeout she says, “Something you cook at home is more nutritious, and hopefully it will pass a skill on to my girls that they can use in their own families. I want them to not be afraid in the kitchen.”
Kim’s confidence comes from a long line of foodies on her mom’s side of the family. From her grandma who owned a café, to her mother who believed in the importance of family dinners and teaching her daughters to cook, Kim values the lessons passed down from generations. She hopes to instill them in her daughters as the world gets busier and less family time is available.
“They [children] learn to prioritize taking time to make family a priority,” Kim said, in regard to taking time to make dinner in the evenings. “That’s the thing I want them to learn the most. In today’s society, I think it’s going to be an art that becomes less and less common.”
For Kim, being a working mom often means dinnertime is one of the few opportunities she gets to engage with her daughters, ask about their days, and learn about their lives. Prioritizing dinner as a family gives her time to connect with and care about her family.
Adding a dash of family involvement means her husband Dave often fires up the grill. Kim involves the girls by having them set the table or help with dishes.
“Ana [Kim’s daughter] conveyed to me how many kids in her high school cooking class have no idea what to do in the kitchen,” Kim said. “I think that comes from takeout being so accessible. It thrills me that she was confident in her class.”
When asked what her kids gain by watching her cook at home, she mentioned the casual conversations that take place in the kitchen. She takes the time to explain how she prepares something, why she’s doing a certain technique, or which spices to use helps keep her kids engaged in the process and gain confidence as they learn. Kim has also sent her girls to cooking- and knife-skills classes to learn skills.
“I get bored, and constantly try new things,” Kim said. “I think it opens up new avenues for my girls to be exposed to new foods. Besides that, I hope to teach them to have fun and experiment in the kitchen … to love cooking just as much as I love it.”
For Kim, cooking is also a way to unwind after a long day. While some days it certainly would be easier to eat out, she’s learned a few things that help keep long days at the office from boiling over into a long night in the kitchen. On busy days, she plans ahead with crockpot recipes she knows will take less prep time. Her family favorites include chili, sweet pork tacos, and beef stew.
“Planning my meals also helps me with grocery shopping,” Kim said. “If I need to substitute a meal for a different night, I have all the ingredients; I’m prepared, and I can make it happen.”
The ingredients in Kim’s recipe for loving her family are flavored with her incredible attributes: from her dedication to providing for them financially to her desire to connect with her children.
“I hope they see and understand my willingness to put the extra effort and love into a meal for them as a direct result of my love for them,” Kim said.
At the Winward house, family dinners are essential. Love is the dessert.