Welcome to The Practical Kitchen! I’m Rebecca — a certified pastry chef with a home cook mentality who loves sharing my favorite cooking and baking tips, product reviews, and techniques. I’m all about helping you fit the cooking and baking into your life in a way that doesn't feel like a chore.
In January 2021, I graduated as Valedictorian with my Certificate in Pastry Arts and the shiny new title of chef from Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Before that I had built an almost decade long career as a journalist, editor, and writer.
As a professionally trained pastry chef with ADHD, I’m passionate about sharing my favorite practical techniques and tools, alongside approachable recipes to make it easy for you to incorporate home cooking and baking into your daily life.
Here on The Practical Kitchen, you’ll also find me sharing my love of kitchen gadgets and tools. I often share helpful product reviews — like my tips on where to find the best plus-size aprons or must-have supplies for pastry school.
When I'm not in the kitchen you can find me playing video games, watching TV, reading, and exploring local markets in my local Boston neighborhood where I live with my husband, Jimmy, and our two cats. I currently call Boston home, but grew up in Pittsburgh and have also lived in Baltimore, New York City, Jersey City, and Los Angeles.
How I Got Started
I've always enjoyed cooking and baking, but around 2014, I picked up bread making as a hobby while working from home. I've been hooked ever since! There are few things I find more satisfying than punching down and shaping a batch of freshly proofed dough.
In 2019, I left my full time job in tech and media, and began freelancing. I had burned out hard and needed a reset. To fill time between freelance gigs and see if I liked recipe development and food writing as much as I liked cooking, baking, and eating, I started The Practical Kitchen.
The good news was that I loved recipe development, I loved food photography, and I loved sharing my recipes and my love of food with people! But I just didn’t know enough about the science of baking to develop recipes efficiently. I wanted to learn as much as possible as fast as possible.
So I enrolled in pastry school at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. In the middle of a pandemic.
We packed up our lives in Los Angeles and moved across the country to Boston. I split my time between pastry school and working as a freelance food editor and continued working on new recipes in my spare time.
Today, I’m so proud to call The Practical Kitchen my full time job. I love getting to combine everything I’ve learned as a self taught home cook and a trained pastry chef and share it with you all. I spend my days dreaming up and testing new recipes, and I hope that my enthusiasm about food and the hows and whys of cooking and baking comes across for you too!
An Anti-Diet Food Space
I'm all about radical fat acceptance and body positivity, so you can count on The Practical Kitchen being a space to talk about the joy of cooking, baking, and eating without any mention of calorie counts, moralizing about food, fad diets, or meal points.
We all need to eat food. My goal here is to help you enjoy the process of making and eating it without shame or judgment!
If you’re participating in community discussions, leaving comments here on the website or on The Practical Kitchen social media channels, I ask that you help keep this space from any diet talk.
Please refrain from making any comments about weight gain or loss, body shapes or types, moralizing about food, asking about calorie information, etc.
My Approach to Cooking & Meal Prep
The first thing you need to know is that when it comes to regular household cooking, Jimmy and I do most of it together. Or we trade off. Or, if I’m being honest, he does more of it than I do. (I do all the baking).
So when I talk about my approach to cooking, it would be disingenuous to pretend like Jimmy hasn’t been a big part of it. (He helps a lot with recipe development for The Practical Kitchen, too.)
The second thing you need to know is that, while I may have trained as a pastry chef I am a self taught home cook through and through. I approach every recipe I make and develop with a home cook mentality. I don't want to wash a lot of dishes, I don't want to waste food, I like using lots of simple base recipes over and over again in different ways, and I want to use tools and ingredients that are practical and versatile wherever possible.
But Jimmy and I weren’t always such prolific home cooks. About a decade ago, we found ourselves rotating through the same three recipes for dinner each night. And, we didn't have the budget to support a full-time meal delivery/take-out situation.
We had been watching lots of Food Network and were inspired to hone our kitchen skills. So we subscribed to a few simple cooking magazines, picked up cookbooks at a used book store, stuck a weekly meal planning pad on the fridge, and started planning our cooking and shopping in advance, challenging ourselves to try new and different recipes.
We weren't sure if we'd stick with it, but we figured that we'd at least end up with a few new favorite go-to recipes to add to our usual rotation.
Today, we've added over 200 new recipes to our collection! We still do our weekly meal planning, only now we revisit old recipes as often as we try new ones.
We've gotten a lot better about not wasting food, at knowing which ingredients we truly need, and how to integrate cooking and baking into our lives in a way that feels creative and fun.
If you're reading this, I hope to help you do the same. (You can find out more about my meal planning process on Greatist!).
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Unpopular Food Opinions
Cooking and baking has expanded my palate and brought so many new ingredients into our kitchen. That said, there's still certain ingredients and equipment that I’ve tried and still don't like or that just don’t fit with my cooking and baking style.
Since this is a food blog, it only makes sense that I lay out what you probably won't find a lot of here:
- Fish (other than canned tuna)
- Mushrooms (though I love a marsala pizza moment)
- Desserts with jellies in the middle
- Instant Pot or Air Fryer recipes (I got rid of both of mine!)