The pantry is filled Jengo-style with various sized jars of various items from the bulk bin, plus ramen packets, veggie sticks and four different kinds of sugar. Tonight, I push away dried beans (are you also on the waiting list for the Rancho Gordo Bean Club?) and a tube of pre-cooked polenta to find mung beans.

What should I do with these mung beans? It’s a problem I’m happy to solve. I gave up a life of eating at restaurants on a corporate card, aka serving as the dining editor and restaurant critic at Northern Virginia Magazine, and now can stay home at night and cook for my family.

Instead of stressing about where to book my next reservation, which I know doesn’t sound like a chore, but when you’re eating out as much as five nights a week in towns as far away as Middleburg and Manassas, it becomes less glamorous and more exactly what it is: work. Add on to that the logistics of multiple daycare pickups and getting the kids fed and trying to establish bedtime routines and it was all becoming impossible.

After eight years eating more meals made by chefs than myself, I joined the Cookology team as the Director of Culinary Talent and Culture. I’ll be running programs and events and a whole host of exciting new things, including sharing my journey back into the kitchen.

Before life as a restaurant critic, I was a freelance writer and a blogger of my home-cooking adventures. I worked at DC’s Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market and started growing my now-obscene collection of cookbooks.

But just like everyone else, I usually just google a recipe real quick while the kids are snacking-playing-fighting.

I simmer the mung beans in salted water for not much more than 15 minutes. The Instant Pot works on rye berries, which takes close to an hour with a natural release. Italian flat beans, a farmers market find that are super long and look like a cross between standard green beans and snow peas are snappy and sweet, are tossed in oil, Dijon mustard and soy sauce and sizzle in a 500 degree oven just enough to take the raw edge off. I remove the beans and cut them into bite-sized piece and on that same pan, I toss shaggy crumbles of tofu and let it dry out until it’s a little crisp and browned. A quick whisking of Kewpie, soy sauce and miso paste becomes a dressing for this oddly paired grain bowl. Somehow the flavors work, the bitey textures keep it interesting … and the kids ate it.

But just like everyone else, I need inspiration. I need some cooking classes. I’m thinking this peanut soup sounds like something I want to eat weekly. Winter means big hunks of melting meat and I’m eyeing these short ribs—grilled!—with a spicy cran-bourbon glaze. And, as a total Bonnie Benwick stan, I’m obviously going to her baking class for these salty chocolate nutella thumbprints.

As for me, I’m saying goodbye to Michelin-starred restaurants, and hello to classes from Cookology chef Nicole Matthews, an alum of the Michelin three-star Inn at Little Washington.

MORE | Critic in the Kitchen by Stefanie Gans: Notes on a former restaurant critic’s journey back to home cooking