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Old 07-25-2015, 03:10 PM   #1
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What Shaped Your Culinary Perspective

For me, it was the family foods produced, or offered by my mother, father, and paternal grandparents.

As both child and teen, I had a voracious appetite. I burned calories almost faster than I could consume them. Fortunately, I was surrounded by good cooks. Though at Mom's house it was mostly meat and potatoes, she threw in enough other foods to make me truly appreciate variety. Chili was something to rejoice about, as it wasn't served regularly, and was delicious. So too were her pasties, stuffed jumbo shrimp, home made breads, pies, cookies, and cakes. I loved her spaghetti with meat sauce. Her roasts were always great, if well done. Her pea soup was spot on, as was her turkey stuffing, her Sea-Breeze salad was a tremendous hit anywhere it was served. She also made the little, colored bread canopies, or sandwiches that were popular back in the 69's. Her pancakes were always silver-dollar pancakes, but were from a boxed mix. I loved them anyway. My mom made killer lasagna, and potato salad. Though, she always over-boiled the corn, which I didn't learn until I met my wife and her family. I loved her fried chicken, and baked chicken too.

From my Dad I got my love of munching a cold hot dog, or hot dogs cooked right in with the pork and beans. We ate sticks of pepperoni, snacked on liverwurst, and such things. He made the best American Goulash I've ever had to this day, and pancakes every Saturday, with sausage, not bacon. He introduced me to the BLT, and his boiled dinner was 2nd to none. His steaks were always pan fried, but were cooked just right. And the brook trout, nobody made it better, anywhere or any time. He made great stew, and pretty good spaghetti as well. He also introduced me into experimenting by serving up french toast with Velveeta Cheese product melted between two slices, and topped with syrup. I thought he was crazy until my first bite. It was at that time, I think, that I became adventurous with my eating.

My Grandpa fed me head cheese, pickled pigs feet, potted meat sandwiches, wonderfully poached eggs, and taught me how to sing the little ditty - Pancakes are deliscious, pancakes are so fine, I oughta know, 'cause I like 'em so, that I eat 'em all the time. He also introduced me to deep fried pork skins, that are now called chicarones. He let me drink all the milk I wanted. I got to taste depression food favorites at his house as well, such as white bread, torn and placed into a cold bowl of milk, and sprinkled with sugar. Again, the turkey stuffing was perfect. I've had a hard time over the years making it as good as either my grandpa, or my mom. But I think I've finally got it. Grandpa's house is where I learned to appreciate the pressure cooker. Both he and grandma had false teeth, and the meat had to be tender. He also made really good chicken fried steak. He used a three bladed veggie slicer, where the middle blade extended past the two outter blades, and was spring loaded. He would dredge the meat in egg wash, dredge in flour, and use the veggie slicer to flatten the meat, tenderizing it and driving the flour and seasonings right it. I own that veggie slicer, and am probably the only person in my family that know what to use it for, including my sisters, and my own kids. Though I think Sprout would use it too, if she lived closer. She'll probably inherit it from me, unless all of my kids decide that it should go to another one of them.

After learning great food appreciation from my own family, it was at boot camp that my next food epiphone was experienced. At the chow hall at Great Lakes Illinois, I ate spaghetti where the sauce was too thin and runny, and the pasta was too soft. But there were flavors in that sauce that absolutely introduced me to the world of herbs and spices. The sauce had not only oregano, but basil in it. I'd never tasted basil. My family never used it. And from that time, it became my mission to learn how to prepare everything my parents, and grandparents could cook, and perfect many more techniques and foods. Favorite recipes for my kids and wife are ones that I created, or modified until I just couldn't make them any better. And I'm still learning.

That biscuit recipe from Janet H. is an example of how I can still learn so many new techniques. The bread roll recipe from my DIL, that is actually the Spud Nut recipe gave me a host of new pastries and breads that are truly amazing.

And so it goes. So what influences set you on your own food perspectives? Tell us who you are and how you came to be so great, and maybe give credit to those who helped you get there.

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 07-25-2015, 05:07 PM   #2
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Because my mother was disabled from childhood polio, I often stood at her side and under her direction would help her cook. She not only taught me how, but the why of cooking. I opted to take cooking starting in the seventh grade. I was disappointed. Most of the dishes we learned were one pot things, like White Sauce. And it continued into grade eight. But it didn't completely discourage me.

I then married a professional chef who trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris along with some other schools to take specialty classes such as baking. We had an agreement. When one of us was in the kitchen, the other could just sit and watch. No adverse comments were allowed. But you could ask questions. And I asked a lot of them. If you didn't like the dish, you could only say something silly like I am not hungry. These rules may seem silly, but being a spanking brand new bride, it was a bit overwhelming marrying a pro chef. It wasn't until we were married for a few years that I realized the significance of having trained at the Cordon Bleu. I didn't even know there were schools to learn how to cook. Lobster Bisque? What the heck was that? It was delicious and today still one of my favorite foods. My kids, thanks to hubby's turns in the kitchen, have had a wide variety of foods. Pirate still loves octopus, frog legs, tripe and a host of dishes from other countries. Both Pirate and Spike love food from India. I am not a fan of it, only because of the strong aroma of the herbs used in the dishes. Pirate married a girl from Naples and her father made all the sausages meats. He loves hogs head cheese, and heavens knows what else. Stuff I could barely pronounce. But he learned to be excited about foreign foods from his father. Every summer the boys would go with their father and work in the kitchen with him. And they ate well.

I don't cook for myself like I did then. But my two boys do. Even though they are cooking for one. And my daughter is married to an Italian. She cooks the New England dishes I learned from my mother along with all the Italian foods of her husband's family.

My second husband was from the south and I quickly learned to cook his regional favorites. His mother taught me how to make pan gravy. She felt so special because I asked her for some advice. His first wife took an instant dislike to her, and just ignored her the whole time they were married. So any time I asked for advice, she almost cried with joy because I liked her.

So there you have it Chief.
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