Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the beginning......
I was born hungry. Even though I was a sickly child from the start, my mother could always count on my having an appetite.  I was born into a "meat and potatoes" family, and my mother cooked that way.  My father owned a trucking business, worked very hard, and thoroughly loved his "down home" cooking.  My father's mother, an Arkansas native, I believe, cooked The Most delicious food Ever. My Grandma P's chops, fried chicken, and to-die-for buttermilk biscuits were a true art from.  My opinion, but true.  My Nana, my mother's mother, on the other hand, was more restrictive in her diet and her dishes, but she had a sweet tooth all of us loved. Her rhubarb pie was simply heaven.  So while Grandma P cooked in a cast iron skillet with grease and lard, which we all loved, by-the- way, including my Nana, my Grandma S cooked turkey and chicken most delicately, plainly, and made The Best Split Pea Soup EVER, and served various in-season unadulterated vegetables.  In short, a nurse by profession, my Nana cooked like it.  My mother's cooking - while I grew up - fit somewhere in the middle.  She cooked foods my father loved from his mother's recipe arsenal but added Nana's spin on things to lighten dishes to make them a little more healthy. 

And then there is me.  About 13 years ago, I was thrust into the world of divorce.  On my own, I cooked very much like my mother.  I enjoyed my own cooking.  I was - throughout my marriage, like most husbands - a pretty good griller. "Mens" like to "eat of the beef", and tri-tips and ribs became my specialty. My in-house cooking arsenal included my mother's tacos, beef and pork roasts, chicken, mini pizzas (which ought to be a food group, I'm seriously just saying), potatoes in various forms, and spaghetti.  The pattern I began noticing, however, was that people were not flocking to my place in droves to have dinner with me.  Finally, my youngest son admitted that his mom's food (naturally, and it was very true) was better;  I added too much salt to my food, he told me, which made eating a lot difficult. That was in 2004, and it seemed that nature or the Fates acknowledged my crushed feelings, and events soon turned all of that around.

Shortly before the winter break at work that 2004, I came down with the flu.  I was so wretched, that I absolutely had to stay indoors and in bed, much of that, for two weeks straight.  I was wracked with fever and other unmentionables, which made venturing out messy.  In bed, I read, I drank a lot of water and juice, and got seriously hooked on two television programs:  "While You Were Out" and "30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray".  After the first week, I wanted to get better so bad so I could get in the kitchen and cook.  I learned about herbs, how to store them, how to cut them, how to use them in various dishes - dishes I had never heard of before - along with how to properly hold various knives, how to chop, slice and much more.  Rach's energy gave me energy and I just couldn't wait to get better.  I had never been so excited about food before.  That one show (and now many more, including books from various chefs, various tv shows, along with following myriad chefs on social media sites, and also learning with and from my family and friends) launched me on what I think is an extraordinary path. Many single men my age are the guys who attend dinners and barbeques at friends' homes, but I am the guy who enjoys entertaining my family and friends with the new things I am learning each and every day.

No, I did not end my career in education to go to a culinary academy (maybe that, when I retire), but I am on an exciting journey of self-education, learning from many excellent sources.  I hope you will follow along, and allow me to learn from you, too.  I believe that I am living proof that an old dog can always learn new tricks, and in my profession, we firmly believe that all people are life-long learners.  I hope to perhaps teach something old, or new, and to learn from you.  Thank you for being here!