Sweet Pea’s Side Dish: Introducing Sweet Pea’s Better Half

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

Welcome to the second edition of “Sweet Pea’s Side Dish”, where once a week I share with you what’s going on in my life besides food.  This is a place to share with you what is going on in my life, baby stuff, our traveling adventures, and whatever else I feel like rambling on about that week. This week I want to introduce you to my better half, the love of my life, and best friend, Andrew. He has made appearances before on the blog making tasty treats such as Ras Malai, Caramel Flan, Classic Panna Cotta, Carrot Cake, and most recently Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream. I’m very excited to introduce you to the person who’s seen me at my best and worst: my husband Andrew…

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

Over the last several years I have been the very fortunate recipient of the wonderful meals and treats lovingly crafted by Sweet Pea (SP). As an adventurous man with an adventurous palate, marrying SP was the best decision of my life.  Remarkably, I was able to fool her into viewing me as a suitable mate long enough to solidify my role as permanent taste tester in her kitchen.  This kitchen of course is Sweet Pea’s Kitchen (SPK), the subject of her blog.  In previous postings she has occasionally given me some credit for my assistance and has occasionally placed a few photos of me in action.  After several years of posting, SP thought it would be reasonable for me to finally introduce myself.

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

I am a 34 year old typical Midwestern guy mixed with a bit of type A personality and a good helping of proud dork-ness.  SP and I live in Peoria, IL where I moved for my job as a dermatopathologist.  Before you ask, I do not do CSI type work, although I did a small amount of forensic pathology in my residency.  Mostly, my job entails sitting behind a microscope diagnosing skin disease.  I could not ask for a better career!  When I am not looking at that strange mole the dermatologist just cut off you, I enjoy a wide range of hobbies including reading, adventure traveling, hiking, gardening, getting in over my head trying to fix everything and anything, eating/drinking with friends, board games and when the mood strikes I like to cook.  Thirteen months ago I found out that I am also a doting father.  If I am not working and Little Sweet Pea (LSP) is awake we are together without exception.  Time with LSP is the most rewarding and enjoyable activity bar none. Post-apocalyptic zombie survival novels are not too far behind!  I could go on and on about other dorky interests (for example I LOVE sitting down with a cup of coffee and working out the household monthly budget) but this is a food blog so I should probably address my interest in the kitchen and my relationship with SP.

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}



Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

I am the efficient pragmatic counterpart to SP’s magical whimsy.  While she adds the intangible quality that makes a meal taste as if it were “made with love”, I add precise measurements of efficiently and evenly chopped garlic according to her instruction.  This is not a glorious distinction, but I am content with my utilitarian function.  My passable kitchen skills date back to high school during which time I found employment as a cook in an upscale retirement community.  Chopping thousands of pounds of fruit for the fruit salad and never ending amounts of celery, carrots and onions for whatever the current soup of the day happened to be was a rough introduction to the commercial kitchen.  Over the course of a few years, my duties evolved to preparing actual meals with the ingredients begrudgingly chopped by the newest hire being hazed.  I gained useful experience with prepping, grilling, boiling, broiling, baking etc. while making enough money to entertain myself.

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

Fast-forward to my senior year of undergrad and life finds me drinking at a good bud’s apartment.  Here enters the future SP both into the dwelling and into my life.  I remember every detail.  She was beautiful and had on a ridiculous blue shirt that read “blondie”.  I strategically ignored her while grabbing and feigning interest in the nearest magazine in an effort to play the game of not interested.  Apparently I was on my game that night, as after being ignored for several hours while the apartment filled up with young partiers, SP came to talk to me.  With the exception of some of my travels, I don’t believe we have been apart for more than a day since that initial meeting.

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

Now here is an interesting fact that is vehemently denied by my SP.  I taught her how to cook.  I had been cooking for myself for quite some time prior to meeting SP and continued as our relationship grew.  As I recall, I don’t think she made me a meal for the first several years of our courtship.  Having some basic skills, I made all the meals for our at-home dates while she stood nearby with a glass of wine swirling in her hand.  Over time, however, she picked up both the desire and the skill set to not only match but to far surpass my abilities in the kitchen.  To this day I am not sure how she can deny this reality, but she does.  I am sure I will hear a rebuttal to this introduction if she allows it to be published at all.

Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

That is how I came to be Mr Sweet Pea and how the seeds of SPK were sowed (my version/the accurate version).  Over the last several years I have really enjoyed watching SPK grow and have loved watching SP continually introduce new foods into our lineup.  I am sincerely thankful to the readers of this blog for providing support and encouragement to my SP in her efforts to build this project.

If anyone would like to share any comments regarding their introduction to cooking, stupid games they played while dating or even their favorite zombie book I’d love to read them. Maybe SP will even let me ramble on again sometime in the future about some topic or another. Until then, thanks again!


Introducing Mr. Sweet Pea {Sweet Pea's Kitchen}

53 Responses to “Sweet Pea’s Side Dish: Introducing Sweet Pea’s Better Half”

  1. #
    Barbara — January 13, 2014 @ 8:04 am

    What a beautiful family you all are! Love those deep Midwestern roots!

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

      Thanks Barbara! Except for a few months during undergrad in which I did research in San Francisco, I have only lived in the midwest. SP and I were both born in Columbus, Ohio. After med school we moved to Indianapolis and now we live in central IL. If we keep moving west bit by bit we will eventually get to the coast!

  2. #
    Cat Davis | Food Family & Finds — January 13, 2014 @ 9:00 am

    You two are ridiculously sweet! I didn’t realize we lived so close. I’m just outside of Springfield. We pop into Peoria about once a year. My husband even tried to move us there once.

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

      Thanks Cat! I am embarrassed to admit that the only time I have been to Springfield was to take on the Joe Rogers chili challenge. I may have cried like a baby but I got my name on the wall for eating their Firebrand Chili. My good pal had seen that on Man vs Food (as I recall) and wanted to give it a shot. He did not tell me that I had to order the large serving in order to get my name on the coveted wall. After proudly approaching the counter with my empty regular sized bowl, I was informed of this fact and sent back to my seat with another full regular sized bowl. It took a bit more crying but I managed to finish that as well and if you ever go there you will see my name on that wall. I am very proud! Side note: my friend who brought me all the way to Springfield did not finish a single bowl, a fact I love to remind him of. Next time you and your husband are heading up to Peoria, give SP an email and maybe we can meet up for lunch, dinner or drinks!

  3. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats — January 13, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    Aw, so nice to find out more about Mr. Sweet Pea! Also, I love stories of “how you met.” 🙂

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

      Thanks Amy! I really enjoyed the chance to write on the blog. It is fun to think of how fortunate little accidents can throw your life in a whole new direction!

  4. #
    Shut Up and Cook — January 13, 2014 @ 9:58 am

    Love the mix of non-fiction and food…because really that’s what it’s all about in my mind; life as it happens in and around the kitchen and the meals we make. Excited to have discovered your blog!

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

      Thanks for checking out the blog! Our house centers around the kitchen too. It is a luxury to be able to have home cooked family meals every night and I certainly do not take it for granted. Although we sacrificed SP’s salary so she could be home with LSP, it was a choice I would make a thousand times over. There is nothing I would rather do than hang out at home with my two favorite people.

  5. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — January 13, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    Nice to meet you Mr. Sweet Pea 🙂

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

      Thanks Ashley! I look forward to getting more familiar with this world of blogging and food blogs (I had to ask SP how to even respond to these comments). I look forward to checking out your blog!

  6. #
    Lin — January 13, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Dang, your boys are really cute! <3 BTW I made your fresh cranberry scones and they were to die for!!!

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

      Thanks Lin! LSP is the cutest little guy in the world. Of course I am looking through daddy goggles but that is all I have! Thankfully, SP is pretty good at using photoshop to make me look presentable. Those scones are largely responsible for my love handles.

  7. #
    Cindy Wilson — January 13, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

    I am so enjoying reading behind the lines. What a beautiful family you are. Mr SP is also a highly entertaining writer. Look forward to the next instalment.

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

      Thanks Cindy! I was a bit apprehensive when SP asked me to write an introduction as I have never written anything outside of school. Having mostly science related education does not provide much writing motivation. I really appreciated your comment. Now if someone could tell me if I am using commas correctly…

  8. #
    Dee — January 13, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

    My gosh you guys are just too cute for words! Loved meeting you Andrew and the littlest SP is a cutie too!!!! Thanks for the introduction!


    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

      Thanks for the comment Dee! If enough people seem to have enjoyed the post, maybe SP will let me ramble on again sometime.

  9. #
    Liz — January 13, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

    You guys are a very handsome family – all of you. Thank you for sharing your lovely pictures. Have a great day!

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

      Thanks Liz! It is really nice to know that people enjoyed the post.

  10. #
    Maureen Harrod — January 13, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

    enjoy this very much

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

      Thanks Maureen! It is great to hear that this post was enjoyed. I look forward to possibly writing again sometime.

  11. #
    B.j. — January 13, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful story, and the great recipes. I look forward to your blogs, etc. I love to cook and read and try your new recipes. You are a really happy looking and loving family. Thanks again.

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:37 pm

      Thanks B.j! We are very family centric and try to build our lives around that concept. I am very fortunate to have a wife in SP that also strongly values what we view as the true source of happiness. Cooking is a great way to spend quality time with family and you get some great homemade meals as a side benefit!

  12. #
    Dana — January 13, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

    Great introduction…love it! My husband and I are newish to Peoria as he started his family med residency at Methodist in July 2012. Any great restaurant recommendations for us?

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

      Thanks Dana and welcome to Peoria! How exciting that you are starting this new chapter in your lives during the looooooong process that is medical education. Peoria does not have a ton of restaurants but there are several gems that we have found in the last 2.5 years. We have really enjoyed Noir and Jim’s Bistro in Peoria Heights. We also like to grab a drink and appetizer at Publik house also in Peoria Heights. Connected has also been quite good. On special occasions, June’s is a culinary adventure but not for anyone with a tight budget. Cyd’s at Junction City is great lunch spot. There are others that are worth mentioning but don’t come immediately to mind. There seems to be a relatively high turnover rate of restaurants here at least since we have arrived. Not sure why this is yet. If you and your husband ever want to grab lunch, dinner or drinks let us know. Between cooking and medicine it looks like we would have a lot in common. Just send SP an email if you are interested. Regardless thanks for the comment!

  13. #
    Karen — January 13, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

    Hello Mr. Sweet Pea! You are very lucky to have such a beautiful family and such a great cook as a wife! I hope to hear more from you.

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

      Thanks Karen! I feel very fortunate to have them in my life and never a day passes that I am not reminded of how lucky I am. I would never trade having a great cook for a wife but I have found one downside. It is hard to ever get really excited about going out to eat! If it were not for good friends and family to spend time with, I would probably whine and moan every time I had to leave the house! I would love to post again sometime!

  14. #
    Jenn — January 13, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

    Cutest little family ever!

    • Andrew replied: — January 13th, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

      Thanks Jenn! I am ready to make the family a little bit bigger but after Sweet Pea’s birth story I have not been able to convince SP! I am still working on it though!

  15. #
    Nathan Young — January 13, 2014 @ 9:30 pm

    Great story! I love it that the man in the house can cook very well! You should come back and write more!

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

      Thanks Nathan! The gents do seem to be underrepresented in the kitchen. It is such a valuable skill to have for so many reasons. I watch my friends spend tons of money on satisfactory restaurant meals and I wonder what they are thinking! I would love to write again sometime!

  16. #
    Tina — January 13, 2014 @ 11:08 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post. What a wonderful introduction to Mr. Sweet Pea. And Little Sweet Pea is so adorable. I love how family centered you are. Some of my favorite memories of my grandparents and extended family have centered around the kitchen table. Lots of good memories that I’ll cherish forever. I enjoy cooking with my two children. I love all the laughs and I can sneak in a little math at the same time. I actually learned to cook from my hubby. We are hoping to remodel our kitchen so we can have all four of us preparing a meal together at the same time. Currently we are too cramped for that. I have an eight and gasp almost ten year old. She’s excited to be in double digits. I’ve enjoyed the recipes I’ve tried so far off the blog. I especially love the lentil soup. Hubby was reluctant at first but now loves it when I make it. I have had to put the recipe in regular rotation. I look forward to more recipes and stories. The photos of your family are beautiful.

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

      Thanks Tina! I can’t think of a better investment then your plan to design your kitchen so the whole family can interact. That will pay off in so many memories just as you have of your grandparents home. I remember my grandparents kitchen table very fondly. I also know what you mean about the value of those little laughs. I think my LSP’s laughs alone could sustain me. They instantly brighten my day regardless of my mood. I know I can’t stop him but he is already growing so fast I can’t imagine him being ten! That lentil soup is amazing and I am glad your husband was willing to give it a try. Thanks again for your comment!

  17. #
    Giovanna — January 14, 2014 @ 4:36 am

    What a cute couple! Better yet, what beautiful family. Congratulatios 🙂

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

      Thanks Giovanna! I am still not sure how I convinced her to stick around! : )

  18. #
    Trish — January 14, 2014 @ 8:44 am

    Well that was adorable 🙂 It’s so great that you have such a loving and supportive husband!

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

      Thanks Trish! I tell her that all the time! : )

  19. #
    Judy smart — January 14, 2014 @ 10:49 am

    What a beautiful family. Loved reading about how you met and seeing how your life together has progressed to what and where you are today. I really enjoy Sweet Peas recipes that come each week. Thank you for sharing!!!!

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

      Thanks Judy! The progression of life, at least throughout my training, seemed to fly by so fast. It has slowed a little now that I am out but it is still not quite slow enough. It seems everyday LSP learns something new and I fear he is going to grow up so fast.

      I am so glad that you enjoy SP’s recipes. She has had so much fun with this blog.

  20. #
    Laura Dembowski — January 14, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

    It is so nice to get to know you, Andrew! You two are the cutest couple and I love the story of how you met. It reminds me that true love can always be just around the corner.

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

      Thanks Laura! I couldn’t agree more. The last thing on my mind that night in undergrad was trying to find a future wife! Quite the opposite really, I was still thoroughly enjoying my bachelor days. I was not about to let her get away though once I got to know her!

  21. #
    Layla @ Brunch Time Baker — January 14, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

    You are such a cute couple! It’s like you were made for each other and the little pea is the cherry on top!! Wonderful story and a wonderful family!

    • Andrew replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

      Thanks Layla! You are too kind. We are a good team and LSP simply makes me want to be a better man. It is funny how one changes when you know someone is looking up to you.

  22. #
    Ruby @ The Ruby Red Apron — January 14, 2014 @ 11:50 pm

    Nice to meet you Andrew!

    • Andrew replied: — January 15th, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

      Thanks Ruby! This has been a fun experiment for me.

  23. #
    Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar — January 15, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

    oh my gosh, how sweet! You guys make such a cute couple and he seems so wonderfully supportive! Congratulations on such a beautiful family, Christina!

    • Christina replied: — January 16th, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

      Thanks so much Lindsay! I feel very fortunate to have such a supportive husband. 🙂

  24. #
    Patrice Manning — January 15, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    Nice to meet you Andrew! I remember reading about a cake, German chocolate, I believe, that you made or was it your birthday and SP made it?

    It’s my favorite and last birthday my husband made it for me. Delicious!
    I have made a few of SP recipes, even the dog bones!

    We are trying to go low on sugar and gluten, it’s hard! Any new recipes GF?

    • Andrew replied: — January 15th, 2014 @ 8:20 pm

      Thanks Patrice! SP made the german chocolate cake for me when I took my dermatopathology boards as a surprise. It is phenomenal isn’t it! It was a great way to end a stressful event. Those dog bones are a big hit at our house too. Hemingway and Winston (our two dogs) love them! Not sure on the gluten free. I am sure there are at least a few GF recipes on here but probably not purposefully GF. We have not caught up with that trend yet. Over the years I have come across many gluten sensitive patients so I am sure there are people looking for those recipes.

  25. #
    Mito — January 16, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    Very nice and a perfect family to me. Love every recipes of SP, did try some of her recipes and still have many that want to make hopefully soon. Hope to see more of your post in the future. Again, you are having a very loving little nest there.

    • Andrew replied: — January 20th, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

      Thanks Mito! I am so glad you enjoy SP’s recipes as much as I do. Thanks for the encouragement, I would love to write again sometime.

  26. #
    Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen — January 18, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

    What a wonderful post! I’ve been a fan on your blog for quite some time now, so it was nice to “meet” your other half. It’s awesome being married to a guy who knows his way around the kitchen! 🙂

    • Andrew replied: — January 20th, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

      Thanks Ashley! Cooking is such a great way for a family to bond and also a great way to share a bottle of wine. My role is admittedly limited but I try to help when I can.

  27. #
    Tory — June 11, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

    We are planning a trip to Lake Cumberland for 4th of July and we’re in charge of dinner for 8, so my first stop was naturally SPK for inspiration, and I was so excited to discover this post! Can you please help to teach my better half how to chop vegetables??

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