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Old 12-27-2017, 10:11 PM   #1
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I’d love to know your story

This isn't really about cooking per se; that’s why I added it to this forum.

Why do love to cook? What was your first inspiration? When did you realize the pure joy of equal parts oil and flour on heat will always become a roux? When did you decide to learn the culinary arts, and why?

Rest assured, I won’t compile your responses into a book, or copy or post or publish them in any way (unless you give me permission, lol). I’m just inspired by other people’s stories!

My mom wasn’t a good cook. In fact, she wasn’t much of a cook at all, which is surprising, because she was raised in her Bubbe’s kitchen. She was great at what she called “doctoring” though. I guess in today’s parlance, we’d call it “hack.” She’d add spices and sugar to a store-bought can of pasta sauce (when did we stop calling it “spaghetti?”), or open a can of green beans, heat them and then dump some Bob’s Big Boy Roquefort dressing on them to entice us kids. And my lunch from the time I was 3 and until I went to school, I had cottage cheese and canned peaches. Every weekday.

I learned to cook because, when I was living in Japan, I couldn’t find any Bob’s Big Boy Roquefort dressing. Or even bleu cheese dressing. A trip to the only bookstore that sold English language books got me a copy of The Joy of Cooking. While I couldn’t find any bottled dressing, I did find all the ingredients for a bleu cheese dressing! So I was set. And then I tried some other recipes from Rombauer’s iconic cooking bible. They worked! Then I got some more cookbooks (and a lot more pots, pans, spoons, and knives), and I was soon having dinner parties for my friends.

I still do “doctoring” if I feel too lazy to really cook, but I’m much happier spending hours in the kitchen, chopping and measuring, braising and sautéing and frying, and (lately) baking. I love exploring new flavor profiles, flavors that we Americans consider “exotic” or “ethnic.” (Pretty much any cuisine is “ethnic,” if you think about it. In Japan, for instance, PB&J is considered to be both! And they think the combo is weird over there!)

Please, share your stories with me!

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Old 12-27-2017, 11:27 PM   #2
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My mom wasn't a good cook, in general, although she did have a few things she cooked well. My dad was a champ at turning meat into shoe leather on the grill. So, I didn't get any cooking "genes" from my parents.

I got into cooking because I love good food, and I have a college degree in art, which means I love to create. Cooking is one more outlet for my creative energy. Since I don't do it for money, cooking is also a relaxing creative outlet. No pressure. I cook what I want, how I want. If I do it right, great. If I mess it up, oooops. No stress. No money on the line.

Cooking is also therapeutic, to me. It is something I can concentrate on. I generally have 22.6 thoughts happening in my head at any given moment. But, when I have something I enjoy to focus on, like cooking, I sometimes get to think one thought at a time.

I never got into baking. There are too many rules involved in baking. Cooking is a lot more flexible. I'm not big on following recipes. The down side is that when I come up with something really awesome, I have to try and remember how I made it.

So, basically, my "story" is that cooking is my hobby -- my way to escape my work and shut up the "voices."

CD
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Old 12-28-2017, 11:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
My mom wasn't a good cook, in general, although she did have a few things she cooked well. My dad was a champ at turning meat into shoe leather on the grill. So, I didn't get any cooking "genes" from my parents.

I got into cooking because I love good food, and I have a college degree in art, which means I love to create. Cooking is one more outlet for my creative energy. Since I don't do it for money, cooking is also a relaxing creative outlet. No pressure. I cook what I want, how I want. If I do it right, great. If I mess it up, oooops. No stress. No money on the line.

Cooking is also therapeutic, to me. It is something I can concentrate on. I generally have 22.6 thoughts happening in my head at any given moment. But, when I have something I enjoy to focus on, like cooking, I sometimes get to think one thought at a time.

I never got into baking. There are too many rules involved in baking. Cooking is a lot more flexible. I'm not big on following recipes. The down side is that when I come up with something really awesome, I have to try and remember how I made it.

So, basically, my "story" is that cooking is my hobby -- my way to escape my work and shut up the "voices."

CD
Cookig is definitely therapy for me too! And for precisely the reasons you mentioned. A complicated recipe requires concentration, focus. It’s an involving process with a clear goal: good food!
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:07 PM   #4
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My Mother as well was not an inspired cook at all. It was a necessary chore for her. And it was because of her, that her three daughters put their hearts into cooking, once we left home. I am obsessed with food; from gardening, canning, butchering, preserving, cooking to baking.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:26 PM   #5
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Dad was a chef at his own diner for several years then for a company that ran a bunch of implant cafeterias for manufacturing plants in the area. Dad never cooked at home except for grilling.

I was exposed to his professional side by being his secretary at night after dinner. He'd call for me to set up a card table and our old portable typewriter to document recipes. He'd dictate recipes off the top of his head for a small notebook he kept.

Mom was a great cook. My sister and I ate well. I watched mom cook often and I guess I picked up a lot over the years.

Sis is 9 years older than I so got a head start on making mom's recipes and I picked up mom's recipes from her. I didn't get to do any real cooking until after I divorced and was on my own in 1990. Since then I have been making mom's recipes and some of my sister's too. SO is quite happy to leave the kitchen to me and worry about other things.

I have developed an interest in the science behind cooking and am constantly searching for new recipes. One of my two daughters actually has an interest in cooking. We have shared some experiences working together in the kitchen and I've enjoyed them immensely.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:34 PM   #6
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Well, I'm not much of a cook myself, although I really enjoy outdoor grilling and BBQ'ing the most. Although my parents were briefly into the restaurant business, that did not inspire me much in what I do today as far as cooking is concerned.
While living in Japan my parents opened a small American style diner in Tokyo and briefly operated the eatery from the mid to late 60's. It was called The Dinette.
Then we moved to Los Angeles and they opened a Japanese teppan restaurant in 1970. My brothers and I slaved in the kitchen washing dishes on weekends and I told myself never will I ever work in the food business.... (held true even to this day...)
They sold the restaurant only after a couple of years of operation when Beni Hana decided to open directly across the street from them. My dad after that went back to his old line of work... accounting. End of story...
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:47 PM   #7
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I'm the oldest of my siblings and to set the stage, we had a rather dysfunctional childhood. Our mother could cook well (basic meat and potatoes fare) but she was too diva-ish to bother herself with such plebeian tasks. When she realized that I was big enough and, to her, old enough to busy myself in the kitchen, then, I was tasked there. I was 8 when I began my cooking duties.

I never questioned my station. In some way I thought that's how all households operated.

By the time I was 13 I had developed a number of recipes and had discovered a love for baking. It was at that time I also discovered a cookbook-of-the-month club and I dived in with great enthusiasm. I still have all those books, some of them have pages that are yellowed (orange, really) with age. I'm nearly 70 so you do the math.

I didn't opt for easy books. No, I chose an Escoffier one, a Danish one and I don't remember what the other two were of my 4 introductory choices...for a whole dollar!

For over 60 years I've cooked and baked myself silly and enjoyed every minute. I even spent 11 years writing a syndicated newspaper column that weighed heavily of the world of food and cooking.

My cookbook collection has expanded to nearly 3,000 and I read them like novels, picturing each recipe/dish and telling my taste buds what flavors may result.

My formative years didn't include packaged foods because they were not readily available then. Just on the horizon so, as a result, everything has been made from scratch. Even now. To me, it's just as easy to make the "real" thing as it is to prepare it from a box. Plus, our diet doesn't include multi-syllable words I can't pronounce and are unhealthy.

I love "grazing" thrift stores for new kitchen toys and get a rush when I find something especially delightful. As an example, I spied a very large Romertopf clay baker at my area Goodwill a few years ago. The price was less than $3. I couldn't resist.

When I put it on the counter at check-out, the clerk asked me what kind of flowers I was going to plant in my flower pot(s). Told her I was going to cook in it. The look on her face was priceless.

Toys, toys, toys. Gotta love toys.

I don't do as much complex cooking as I used to, but that's because arthritis in both my hands makes it difficult and painful to do much chopping. In view of that, I try to do those kinds of tasks early in the day when my hands are at their best.

But...I ain't gonna quit.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
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Old 12-29-2017, 06:10 PM   #8
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I learned to cook when I was little starting at about age 8.. The first thing I ever made was brownies from scratch, Betty Crocker recipe. I soon moved on to pan fried burgers, poke chops and cooked to a leather crisp fried steak with ketchup. Well, that’s the only way I had ever had steak, my dad liked them that way. Mashed potatoes and anything else that you got to use the electric hand mixer.

I didn’t cook in college. I heated frozen pizzas and pot pies. Luckily my college career predated packaged ramen. I must have had other foods, but dis-remember.

The first successful cooking I remember is at a friend’s mom’s house and opened a Joy of Cooking and I made a BBQ sauce recipe (70’s edition). With succeeding editions I see they revise that bbq sauce recipe. As do I with my own bbq sauces or rather concoctions. The difference is JoC writes down their recipes, I don’t, so it’s real hard to re-create again. That’s ok by me (mostly.)

Later, when we were married, we received a spice rack with all kinds of herbs, many which we were unfamiliar. Let’s make meatloaf. DW hadn’t made ML before, I (probably boasted) was an old hand at making and baking. However, I decided to throw in a huge spoonful of dried rosemary. My, that stuff is strong. Wouldn’t use rosemary again for decades. Now it’s one of my/ our favorite herbs, though fresh is better.

I like to make or create new dishes, or new to me. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy DC. I have yet to work with curries, only a little, South & Southeast Asian cuisines, ( I have never eaten any Thai food, Vietnamese yes), and Creole/Cajun dishes. Luckily, I am in the prime of my life—70 is the new 30.
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Old 12-29-2017, 06:14 PM   #9
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Got an afternoon to sit down with a glass of wine?
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Old 12-29-2017, 06:29 PM   #10
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Lol, K-girl. Somethin tells me you're gonna need a few bottles, not a glass.

As far as my story, my parents plane went down in an Italian and Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. I was raised by a wild pack of my friends' families.
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