thecookbookwhisperer

What I know best is my ability to cook. I am not a chef of any kind, nor am I a gourmet.  What I am is a foodie. I have been in the kitchen since I was old enough to stand on a chair, old enough to make a fist in order to pound out dough. By the age of four and half I was making blueberry muffins not only from scratch, and doing it from memory.  My mother was who taught me how to cook, starting with engaging me in bread making at the age of two and a half.  When I asked her what the first thing she taught me was, we realized that all of my culinary education has been either self-taught or just simply by watching her.  It was the same way that she had learned from her mother.

The experience I gained with my mother and on my own is what helps me to know a recipe.  The more I know a recipe, which gives me the confidence to expand upon it, to alter it, to make it better.  As I’ve said, and will probably say again, I started with baking as a child, and moved slowly, to cooking.  When I cook I give myself not just more artistic freedom, but a greater possibility to screw up; whereas with baking I am completely by the book.  My experience has taught me, what ingredients are essential to making a cake rise, or how long to beat egg whites to get a particular peak.  That background information is what allows me to innately know when going through recipes how to pick the “right” one.  Some recipes are never tested, so that information gleaned from experience is necessary.

The Easter dinner of 1991 was a huge milestone in my culinary advancement.  I was ten years old and my mother became ill on that fateful Easter morning; my father appointed me to cook the dinner.  Excited for this opportunity to make my debut, and to make my parents proud of me (especially in front of their friends), I took the task of making dinner head on.  I spent the day busily preparing sides of scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and salads.  The fete du jour was a large glazed ham embellished with slices of pineapples and cherries.  I made everything from scratch and with little help from anyone.  I was so proud of myself.  However, at six o’clock when it was time for people to arrive my father informed me that they had cancelled dinner, and that it would be only the family.

 

I cried for two hours…

 

My obsession to feeding people comes from my mother’s side.  We are Greek, and I’m fairly positive that it is in our blood to feed people – regardless if they think they want it or not.  We derive great pleasure from food, and who doesn’t?  Personally, I know my emotional stability can be balanced with a good meal, or a simple chocolate or gelato.  During the regular school semester I have little time to indulge myself with cooking.  It’s my therapy.  Bringing in sweets that I have made, and feeding the people I care about, is almost as helpful to me as cooking.  There is little that I enjoy more than seeing someone let themselves go when they take their first bite of something magical.  Personally, I usually have a euphoric look about me, and then do a little happy dance as I enjoy something delightful.