Although she shared a name with her character Angela on The Office, actor Angela Kinsey is nothing like Dunder-Mifflin Scranton's resident cat lady/head of accounting. While the character Angela may have turned her nose up at getting messy in the kitchen, Kinsey can be seen rolling her sleeves up and learning to bake everything from brownies to pumpkin pies with her husband, Joshua Snyder, on their YouTube baking series Baking with Josh and Ange. Though she's the first to admit that baking isn't her strong suit, being in the kitchen with her family is still deeply important to her, and a time to reconnect with her loved ones. One recipe that is often at the center of her memories with her family in the kitchen? Stew.
My husband Josh and I make this turkey soup that is just 100 percent comfort food for me. He made it for me just the other night — I'd had kind of a long day, then I came home and the stew was in the pot on the stove, and I just felt like I was home. I don't know how to explain it. It's like, home isn't always a place, it's also a feeling. I just walked in and he was ladling the stew into these bowls that my sister got us for our wedding that remind me of the bowls my grandma had, and I was just like, "I'm home, I'm home." The day melted away.
My mom always made stews growing up, so it reminds me a lot of that. There's just something comforting to me about it. Especially this time of year when it gets a little cooler at night, you can cozy up next to the people you love with a good stew.
It's A Family Tradition
My husband often cooks his stews with turkey, but when I was growing up, my mom made a pot roast stew that was amazing. She would start making it in the morning, so when we woke up, the house was filled with all of these really flavorful, delicious smells — it's making me so emotional just thinking about it. That is the beauty, I think, of food: it's family too.
My dad was really big on dinner. There were no phones, no TV. We all sat together at the table and we talked as a family. That's what I remember most. My family had a farm, so I remember my mom making these stews, my dad going out and chopping wood so we could have a fire going, my grandparents coming over, and all of us just gathering together. It's a really special memory for me, and my mom's stew was kind of at the center of it. Before we sat down to dinner, we all formed around the stew in the kitchen and hung out. I would talk to my mom while I helped her — I usually was in charge of cutting the potatoes and the carrots. I found that I'm a great food prep. And there would just be all the sounds and all the voices of the family coming together. It was so special.
Now, with my family, when we eat dinner together, there are no electronics, and there's no TV, and there's no phone. Dinner is the time we all come together as a family and talk about our day. We play this game at dinner with our kids called Roses and Thorns, where you say what the best part of your day was, and what the worst part of your day was. It gets them all talking.
I know it sounds silly to say, but you really have to fight for that family time, because life gets busy. I mean, we have two kids on two different soccer teams, one kid at play practice — weekday nights can be really busy. But we have found that on Monday nights, no one has an activity, so we all sit together and make that a time to reconnect.
I Like To Be Flexible When I Cook
In our house, Josh is the baker, and I'm more of a cook. I think the difference between cooking and baking is that you can be more flexible with cooking than you can with baking. With baking, things do not turn out correctly if you do not follow the recipe. For instance, when I make a soup for Josh, he'll be like, "Well, what are the ingredients?" And I'm like, "You can mix it up." And he's like, "No no no, what are the ingredients?" My mom is the same way I am. I'll ask my mom for a recipe, and she'll be like, "Well, what do you got?" I'm becoming more like my mom in that.
But Josh, he grew up baking, and he's really good at it. His dad actually made a lot of their birthday cakes when he was growing up, and his mom is a great baker as well. So, he was just in the kitchen with them a lot. I was the youngest of my siblings by a long-shot, so I was never in the kitchen. My siblings were in junior high and high school when I was born, so I was shooed out of the kitchen because I was the toddler making a mess. So I actually don't know a lot about baking at all and Josh knows so much about baking, so that's the crux of our YouTube baking show, Baking with Josh and Ange — he's the quarterback and I'm color commentary.
The Kitchen Is Where My Family Reconnects
I think there is such a gift in someone preparing a meal for you; that is such a loving gift to give someone, and such a simple way of showing love. We've made a thing with the kids where we thank the person who prepared the meal. So it's either, "Thank you Dad," or "Thank you Mom," "Thank you grandparents." We do this even when we go to a restaurant. Often, you don't get to thank the chef and the cooks who are in the back, but we always have our kids thank the waiter and the host for their meal.
We also have a thing that we do at home where we trade off making meals: Josh makes breakfast, then I'll make lunch on the weekend, and often dinner is a joint effort because we're a family of five. There are little jobs that we can give the kids that make them feel like they were part of the meal preparation, and now they take a lot of pride in it.
As told to Associate Lifestyle Editor Tanya Ghahremani.
Bustle's series My Favorite Meal asks famous chefs, bloggers, and tastemakers to describe the one dish, recipe, or ingredient they can't live without — and why.