I’m over 50 and have been cooking since I was a young girl of nine. It started when I watched Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet on Vermont PBS in the early 70’s. It seemed I was able to taste in my mind what they were cooking and from that first evening on, I reproduced their recipes to the best of my ability in my parents kitchen with whatever ingredients were available, learning immediately to improvise. Astonishingly, my memory was excellent for anything kitchen no matter how lacking my interest in a lesser than average school experience. I never asked for ingredients to be added to the shopping list and never expected any accommodation for what I was about to make. I suspect my mother paid attention privately, as it was never apparent to me, and perhaps purchased ingredients she wanted to eat. I watched these shows at the pleasure of my parents who surely were hoping I’d relieve them from the task of opening a can of Campbell’s soup, one small can served 3 people. I’m still hungry. I didn’t know it but it was unusual for a child to be like this. I’d cook and my father would “critique” my offering. My mother was just happy to be cooked for.
Early on in my high school experience I expressed my heartfelt first true love to my parents’ confessing I wanted to be a chef, I was met with a solid “No. It’s all work, 24/7. Your family will show up and expect to be fed and it’s impossible to make ends meet.” And so, I resigned myself to cooking for those I love and instead scholastically pursue studio art and art history. This was easy for me as I was born with the talent. I don’t see much difference between art and food. Food lives in memory and art, well art is on your wall but both are first consumed with your eyes.
Left to my own devices I set myself to make a family worthy of Walton’s mountain. I married and had a handful of children. Friends and family have sat at my table and eaten mostly new creations or variations of old creations for 25 years. Sometimes I’ve over fed people and sometimes I didn’t have enough people to eat all the food I made. Cooking is my passion and when I’m not cooking I’m thinking about cooking. Wooden spoons and tongs are my favorite tools and probably all I need except for an excellent, yielding and powerful source of heat. Butter, wine, sea salt and my Peugeot pepper mill all feature in my kitchen and never get put away. Large sharp knives and hefty large wooden cutting boards are on every countertop. When people get in my kitchen and start to move things around it grinds my universe to a halt, not because I’m perfectly organized, but instead because I know where to find what I want and should a creative spark ignite I don’t have time to divert my attention to finding something. Sometimes I obsess and perfect things like apple pie, scones, Bolognese sauce or anything really. For me cooking is like falling in love. Cooking is my first choice of self expression.
I think of recipes as gentle suggestions.
Oh, and I love my dogs.