If you've been watching Jennifer Garner's "Pretend Cooking Show" on her Instagram — and if you haven't, take this as the sign you need to watch it ASAP — then you know how much the award-winning actress loves food. In the ongoing "Instagram series" of sorts, she shows fans how she makes some of her favorite recipes, often with help from friends including her whip-smart mother and cooking icon Ina Garten. The videos are filmed in her cozy-looking kitchen and always include common cooking faux pas that make viewers feel like they're really involved with the whole experience, whether it's Garner forgetting to preheat the oven, or mixing up certain steps, or spilling a little here or there. With a very Julia Child-esque joie de vivre, her cooking videos take the stuffiness out of the kitchen — it's all about playing with recipes and having fun.
So when Garner spoke with Woman's Day on behalf of Capital One Venture, of course we had to get the scoop on all things food-related. "Oh gosh, food is very important," Garner tells Woman's Day. "It plants memories into your soul." Garner says food, to her, is all about creating memories and enjoying the simple things in life. "When I smell homemade bread, it takes me back to being in my house as a kid and feeling safe and knowing something good was coming out of the oven," she says. "It's physical health, it's emotional health, and you're just setting up a healthy system for your kids to grow up and enjoy. It's also a joyful thing, it's something you create out of nothing."
Garner will seemingly try any recipe, and lately she's been on a Barefoot Contessa kick, working through recipes from the new cookbook Modern Comfort Food. "I've had it a week and a half, or two weeks, and I've already cooked I think half of it, and a couple things twice," she says. Her favorites include the roast chicken, the lamb ragu rigatoni, and the beef bourguignon. "I don't just eat meat dishes," she laughs. "It just sounds like it right now." She's also a sucker for "any kind of cookies" and bread.
Garner's no muss no fuss attitude in the kitchen can be reassuring to cooking newcomers who might not feel ready to tackle seemingly complicated recipes. Luckily, Garner has some advice for beginners: "I would say, choose one recipe that you want to know how to do, like roast chicken, just choose one thing and then make it, and then make it again, and then make it again, so that you get really comfortable and you own that recipe," she says.
And a little pro-tip she just learned for the muffin-lovers out there: "One thing that my friend Ina Garten just taught me is that you can make a muffin batter and put it in a container, and you can just put it in your fridge and leave it there," she says. "Several days later you can pull it out and make fresh muffins instead of having muffins that you're reheating. It's a game changer. If you make a muffin batter on Saturday and then a different kind of batter on Sunday, then you have two or three days of fresh muffins for later in the week." And really, what more could you want?
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