I started this blog as a way of sharing my recipes with my family and friends who live in different cities and never, ever imagined that it would grow to what it is at the moment.

After winning both the Best Food blog and Best New blog awards at the SA Blog awards in 2010, a new world opened for me. One I was very keen to be part of. But let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start.

Alida Ryder

My relationship with food started when I was very young, maybe 5/6, when I used to beg my Gran to bake cookies with me. We would mix the dough, roll it out, cut the shapes and have the first batch in the oven. I would sit in front of the oven waiting all too patiently for that wonderful smell to fill the kitchen and when the timer went off I would quickly call Gran to come take them out. I would wait for them to cool just enough for me to handle them without burning myself. I would go and eat the first batch, all by myself, on the couch and leave my gran to continue baking the rest of the 9 batches I insisted we mix. My Gran was so incredibly patient with me (like only a Granny can be) and even though I’m sure she got a little irritated with my antics from time to time, she always said that the kitchen was a magical place where a lot can be forgiven. My gran had the same passion for food as I have. Her whole life was spent either owning a hotel and running the kitchen or running a catering business. Sunday lunches at her house were filled with tables groaning under the immense amount of food piled on top of it and people bustling to get to it. Two or three types of roast meat, gravy, rice, roast potatoes, sweet pumpkin/sweet potato, steamed carrots, green beans mashed with onions and two or three salads were finished off with Malva pudding, pineapple mousse pudding and custard. Memories that I will always treasure. My Gran passed away last year (2011) and even though the loss is over-whelming, I can’t help but remember her with a smile. She was the best Gran any girl could ask for.

My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t so keen on cooking (I think she liked the idea of cooking but not so much the practicality of it). She was the ultimate “express cook” and rarely spent more than 30 minutes in the kitchen, unless she made her amazing Chicken Fried Steak. Nevertheless, she always insisted I try new things, ate all the flops with a smile on her face (and drank litres of TAB to get the taste out of her mouth) and when I did succeed she was all too proud. She was the only fan I ever needed. She passed away after a yearlong battle with breast cancer in December 2005 and I miss her every day. Everything I do is in honour of her and I strive every day, to be half the woman and mother she was.

Alida Ryder

Growing up in a very loving and food-adoring family gave me the opportunity to play and experiment a lot and through an awful lot of trial & error, I became a really good cook. Something my husband, Chris and (5 year old) twins Abigail & Aidan are very happy about as they get to be the guinea pigs for my creations. I have always felt an intense satisfaction from feeding people but nothing is as satisfying as your child taking a bite of food, closing their eyes and saying “mmm delicious”. Yes, they are most definitely my children. For this very reason, I decided to call my blog Simply Delicious because the food I cook is simple but I never compromise on flavour, texture or quality and so, Simply Delicious was born.

And now, two years after starting this blog I am doing things I could only have dreamed of a few years ago. I’ve written two books (Simple & Delicious: Recipes from the heart, published in September 2012 and Cook from the heart: Food for every mood to be released in October 2013) and doing freelance food styling, food photography and recipe development (a dream come true). After shooting and styling my own book, I realised this is something I absolutely love doing and would love to do more of but for now I am happy to go with-the-flow and what an exciting journey it’s bound to be.

Thank you for reading my blog and for your feedback. Please don’t stop doing either. I love hearing from you! Happy cooking!

Alida Ryder

(Photos by Albie Bredenhann)