Sunday, February 24, 2008

by way of introduction

I'm young enough that I still love my neck, computers featured prominently in my childhood, Madonna's always been old and Poison confuses me. I can't recall the presidency of the older Mr. Bush, I was astonished to discover that Michael Jackson used to look normal, omg plz course I cn spk IM and 1337 -- and lolcatz fwiw. Also, my age still starts with a 1.

Broke? Matter of opinion, I suppose. The boyfriend and I are Americorps volunteers, and separately, our living stipend would put us right at the poverty line. But since we're living together, we're more like three hairs above that threshold. So we're doing good! We're spending about $50/week on groceries, which is comfortable, and I'm trying to get that down to $40 (if only the boy didn't love milk and brand names quite so much!) Point is, I ain't shopping at Whole Foods. Recipes that involve Gruyere or Fontina are out of my price range, thanks very much, and beans are a staple in our diet. Unfortunately, my food tastes don't match our limited budget, let alone my cooking skills -- Food and Wine doesn't include price-per-serving underneath it's recipes, you see.

As for clueless, let's get that straight. I don't know jack diddly. I don't know diddly squat. Squat -- yeah, I don't know squat. I have been cooking for myself (and the boy) for exactly 6 months. Thanks to my love for chocolate and cookies, I started out with a okay grasp of baking, but otherwise -- I had a vague idea of how to make my father's marinara sauce (though never as good as he can), I could imitate my mother's stir-fry (though how I was supposed to make all the vegetables be done at the same darn time, I never quite grasped) and I could boil pasta.

That was pretty much it. I couldn't make rice that wasn't wet and crunchy, unless it was dry and burnt to the pot. I had to look up how to bake potatoes (because how was I supposed to know how hot to make the oven?). The concept of roasting vegetables was a revelation to me. I was utterly confused by steamers, and what does "saute" mean, anyway? Is it the same as stir-frying? How is it possible to poach things other than eggs, and why is it called blanching if the vegetables don't turn white? There were some words that caused me to throw my hands up in despair: julienne. risotto. mise in place (is it something like menage a trois?) frittata. quinoa. cannoli. cannellini.

Fortunately, I had one great strength: I can read. It's like magic! I also had my mother's old, tattered copy of The Joy of Cooking, boundless curiosity, and an utter lack of respect for following the recipe. I've had a lot of failures -- pad thai that fused with the wok, alfredo sauce that coagulated into a stringy mess of nauseating lumpiness, soup that nobody could bear to eat, lots of burnt vegetables. Fortunately, I find myself with, 1) an understanding boyfriend who has mastered the art of "no, really, it's all right," and 2) an indefatigable optimism. So it was rotten? So I'll do better next time. And usually, I have.

I've been learning. My rice is better these days. I don't need to pull out a cookbook every single night, though I usually do just to check myself. I make a pretty good thai curry, my falafel is all right, I'd say my peanut sauce is even pretty good. My biscuits rise. I even bake my own bread, and it's edible.

Still, there's no denying that I'm in no position to share any great wisdom with the world. I'm no brilliant cook. I'm totally new at this! I'm young, I'm broke and I'm clueless!

So why am I starting a food blog? Simple -- I'm also obsessed.

I've discovered that I really, really love food. I love making food. I love kneading bread, love watching it rise, love making sauces thicken and adding spices shake by shake, love the way my kitchen smells after it's been working hard, love food processors and butcher knives and neatly diced vegetables, absolutely adore my double boiler, love shaking my wok and feeling the heat from my oven when I open it, love planning menus and eating good food and, more than anything else, love feeding people.

I think about food all the time. I look up recipes at work -- and since I'm an Americorps volunteer, that means that I am slacking off from HELPING THE NEEDY to ogle foodporn. How selfish is that?

I talk about food all the time. I think about it on my bus ride. I see ads for fresh oranges and wonder how to cook with them, what I could make, citrus desserts, how about in a nice salad? I think about making breakfast foods while I'm making dinner, about making dinner while I'm making breakfast, I make cookies for dessert and dream about springform pans and chocolate cheesecake.

My personal blog is coming very close to being overwhelmed by posts about soup and bread and cookies and tortillas. My fingers itch to get ahold of new cookbooks. I'm following 30 food blogs, and I'm just getting started. It's getting out of control!

Once upon a time, addictions were something personal, that you kept to yourself or maybe -- if you were lucky -- shared with a few like-minded friends. But today, we have the internet! Nobody need suffer alone. The way I see it, it's like a song that's stuck in your head, that won't leave you until it is plaguing someobyd else -- for examples, please see: Who Let The Dogs Out. Dancing Queen. Rasputin. The Kit-kat theme. It's a Small World After All...

So the glorious pictures of sugar-dusted sandwich cookies, of thick-crusted pizzas topped with a mountain of fresh vegetables, of colorful noodle stir-fries -- the thoughts of bain-maries and marinading tofu and thick circles of carrot, thin slices of eggplant -- the smell of baking bread and chopped parsley and slow-simmering sauces -- if I can get all of that out of MY head and into YOURS, well, maybe I'll be a little better off.

1 comment:

Seven Levels said...

I am totally excited about this blog. I was always fascinated with chefs and cooks and how they make food. Best of luck with the cooking!