Thursday, January 1, 2009

Something Completely Different

And now for something completely different.

I've mentioned before that I come from a long line of "cooks". We all know the old adage, "too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth". For this reason, I chose to take a back seat in the family dining department for this holiday season. This turned out to be to my benefit. Sitting at the island, sipping coffee, and watching my mom and Grandma Leonard prepare our Christmas dinner always puts things in to perspective for me.

They stood above a massive beef tenderloin. I commented on the size and glanced wearily at the price tag, wondering if Success would ever allow me to prepare such an impressive piece of beef. We were not able to find a roasting pan big enough to house this thing. I noted that if we tucked the thin end under, it would fit and also cook more evenly. My grandmother agreed. My mom wanted to just cut it off, but eventually followed suit.

As we took out the chopped liver that my grandmother made as an hors d'oeuvre, she made mention that it would taste different because our electric mixer made it more "whipped" than usual. I thought it still tasted great, and my mom gave me a look that was clearly saying "it's fine, who cares".

I have watched this dynamic between my mother and grandmother for years. My mom's style is very impromptu. She cooks with a complete absence of fussiness, which can be mistaken for carelessness if you aren't watching closely. No matter what the steps in between, the end result is always something good. She never fails to impresses, especially when entertaining.

My Grandma, on the other hand, is incredibly fastidious. When I was a child, I used to help her make the giblet at gravy at Thanksgiving. Making gravy is nothing short of an art form, and my grandma was adamant in leaving this impression on me. Once, as a teenager, I had been stirring the gravy over a low simmer for what felt like an eternity. My grandma saw the slight wane in my interest and yelled from across the room, "If you aren't going to stir it with love, you aren't going to stir it at all!" I quickly stepped up my game. She would stop by every now and then to ask me if I was still stirring it with love. I now stir everything with love.

What I wound up with is what I consider a happy marriage of their two approaches. From my Grandma Leonard, I have retained the fastidiousness and a passion for a wide variety of culinary styles, tastes, and procedures. From my mom, a low-key attitude; A gift that enables me to be at ease and stress-free in the kitchen, no matter what's catching on fire. Sitting in the kitchen, watching the two of them, only strengthened my realization that as long as I am cooking and creating, I'm happy. There are few things which I hold as much passion for, and my kitchen is my oasis. I can visit Italy, France, Asia, Russia. I can be in a five-star bakery, restaurant, or burger joint. The best part is watching the faces of the people I love as they enjoy the sensory experience I've prepared for them.


In this new year, per usual, I have plans. "Oh God, here we go again," was my sister's remark. Don't worry, they aren't big, wild-and-crazy plans. They're more on the level of, "I want to try to make a danish".

I plan on expanding this blog. I will continue to post recipes and stories, but I intend to show a broader spectrum in the skill level to include some more advanced recipes. I truly want this to be a well-rounded archive.

I also intend to expand the "brand", if you will. Pursuing publication and credit in the year to come will be paramount.

If all works out, there should be more Q/A entries. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of e-mails I received with questions and asking for suggestions for the site, and I look forward to posting some of those. I would love this site to become more interactive. Keep them coming!

Finally, I have been inspired to learn. I am going to actively seek to expand the experience and learn as much as I can.

I can't give it all away, I do have some surprises up my sleeve.

I just want to thank everyone who reads, asks, and e-mails. I hope you all spend the new year rediscovering your passions and pursuing your dreams. Learn as much as you can, and share it with as many people as possible.

Be happy, be healthy, and enjoy!

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