I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am of Lebanese decent and grew up helping my mom Ruth, my grandma Olga and my great aunt Angele cook so many amazingly delicious Lebanese dishes. My mom is not only a fabulous cook, but also a great baker. When I was about 10 years old we would make cookies at the holidays and pack them in shoeboxes to send to my cousins away at college.
I am number 3 of 4 kids and the only girl. Growing up I definitely did more kitchen duty than any of my brothers. I will say, even though they started later in life, they are all really good cooks, too. We were pretty much your typical middle class family. My dad was self-employed and my mom was a homemaker. My dad was the breakfast maker and BBQ master. During the school week we ate mostly cereal but, the weekends he made us the best omelets. Mom did lunch and dinner. Lunch was usually a sandwich or whatever was leftover (leftovers were big in our house) and dinner was a variety of dishes; spaghetti, meatloaf, tacos, steak, fish, chicken. No matter the entrée, dinner was always served with sides of vegetables, potatoes or rice, sourdough French bread (we did live in the SF Bay Area; the sourdough capital of the world) and always a green salad with her “Lebanese style” dressing.
The holidays were big at our house. We usually hosted both sides of the family at every holiday (both sides were big families). My mom would be cooking for days making all the wonderful Lebanese dishes, such as grape leaves, kibbi, tubouli, and kousa. My dad loved to garden and he grew so many vegetables, so my mom would can the squash and freeze the grape leaves and green beans to use during the winter and holidays.
I’d say I’m a good mix of my mom and dad; I love to cook and I love to garden.
After college I worked in retail and just cooked casually. Once married, my husband and I wanted to start our own business so, we opened a gourmet hotdog and ice cream shop. Grew it over 2 years and sold it to buy a pizza and pasta restaurant which we had together for more than 20 years (post divorce, he still has it). Forced to start a new career and not enough capital to open another restaurant and two kids starting college, I decided to get my real estate license (I had some previous experience, so it seemed a natural transition). However, I missed working with food and feeding people. Yes, I cooked for my family and friends and enjoyed every second of it but I always had this desire to share my passion of cooking, especially Lebanese food, with others. And now that I’ve been vegan since 2015, being able to show people how they can make pretty much any dish vegan is so rewarding. Thus, Compassionate Cravings was born.
“One of the greatest gifts that you can give people is to cook for them.” – Ina Garten
“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” – Julia Child
These are two of my favorite quotes and pretty much sum up how I feel about cooking; it’s definitely a passion.