Saturday, February 20, 2010

FOOD! (and a little walk down memory lane)

Michael Ruhlman, a talented writer, chef, and I would add, good food activist, recently wrote a blog post about why he cooks and suggested other bloggers do the same. I thought this would be as good a time as any to tell you a little something about why I cook...

I'm a girl, so naturally I have to give you a lot of other details before I get to the part where I actually answer this question. Who's ready for some crynfiction history? Ready or not, here we go:

I was born into a family whose name is, coincidentally, 'Cook.' My father was raised in a suburban-ish? part of Kansas with a younger brother and older sister. He and his brother used to go to a neighbors' pasture and ride their horse, bareback, if I remember correctly. My dad always dreamed of being a cowboy and to realize that dream, he moved way, way, way into the country and bought a "little" farm of 42 acres in the county of... not sure. Anyway, we lived down a narrow gravel road with nothing around for miles and no neighobors with the exception of one little house way down the lane and an old abandoned barn down the lane in the opposite direction. There was a big cornfield that butted right up to the edge of our property which was always a source of sourness between that owner and us. It seems that somewhere along the lines of our property and theirs, there was some dispute as to where exactly the line was drawn. Why am I telling you this? I'm not sure. Anyhow, just down the road from our house was a little old bridge that would regularly get flooded out everytime it rained and we could not pass it, even in our 4-wheel drive pickup trucks, let alone our little orange Ford Pinto with the black hood that had been replaced and spray painted after a few collisions with suicidal deer. Consequently of the little bridge flooding, we would have to drive miles around the acreage to enter the long, long gravel lane from the other side. My dad had always wanted a pond, and so did we, so he convinced the city guys, who came to build us a brand new bridge, to dig one out for us and use the rocks and dirt they dug to build the bridge. Well, they sure did dig us a hole, but it never held water so it ended up just being a big pit where we burned our trash... But I digress again.

While in Kansas, we grew green beans, rhubarb, tomatoes, and other things I'm sure that I can't remember. I am sure we ate well back then, but I don't quite remember. When I was 7 years old, we packed up our pickup truck and moved our family of (then) 7, to California so my dad could attend Calvary Chapel Bible College. We ended up staying. For 7 years. So from the age of 7 until the age of 14, I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at a college cafeteria. I have no complaints. I loved it. However, it sure didn't give me much in the way of instruction in the culinary arts.

Late in November of my 14th year of life, my Mom decided to pack up the five of us kids who were still living at home and move us to Connecticut, which is where she's from. I had 4 years of non-cafeteria food then, which mostly consisted of me and my little sister cooking a few staple meals. One was boiled kielbasa, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Another was roasted chicken, if we could convince our little brothers to reach their hands inside the cavity of the chicken and remove the guts--gross! And the other meal was...tuna casserole. That pretty much sums up my cooking experience at home. Oh, except for microwaved quesadillas, and fried eggs.

I never fancied Connecticut much, so after highschool, I moved back to California to see about a boy, whom I ended up marrying. During those first few years, I basked in the gloriousness of In-N-Out which I had been deprived of for so long. 30 pounds later, I regretted that decision. But in Orange County, it seems to be a way of life to "eat out," so that's what we did. Long after I grew tired of eating out, we still continued to do so since we didn't really know any other way.

Three years ago, my husband and I moved to Santa Rosa in Northern California. Nor Cal is nothing like So Cal. They might as well be different states. The pace is much slower and food is much more expensive and restaurants are few and not very good. Finances were tight, so eating out had to go. I was finally thrust into the art of home cooking. And it was glorious. It was a struggle, but after a while I went from loving to bake, but not cook, to pretty much loving to do both. I started reading Ruhlman's blog, Simply Recipes, and some other food blogs and started learning. My brother is a chef, too, so I call him up every now and again and get some advice. Sometimes I still feel a little lost, but I don't think I could ever go back to eating out 5 times a week. So here are some of the reasons why I cook:

--I love feeding people
--I love homecooked meals
--I love vegetables, and you just can't get them much at restaurants
--I cook because I have to, its much cheaper
--I cook because I want my kids to have the stability of eating meals at the table together
--I guess one reason I cook is because I feel guilty when I don't
--I cook to create memories
--I cook to get a variety in my diet
--I cook because I can!
--I cook because it tastes good when I do so
--I cook to teach my kids how to cook
--I cook to serve my family and others
--I cook because it is healthy

And you know what? I think I cook because I enjoy it! So thanks for having this talk with me. I might not have discovered that otherwise. Now the challenge goes to you. Write a blog post about why you like to cook, or why you do cook. You might be surprised at what you discover.

P.S. Please forgive my use of unnecessary commas; I just can't help myself!


The Montgomerys said...

I liked this blog corynne. I think I cook because I like to know exactly what is in my food, minimally processed ingredients, freshest produce (the least hands that touch it from the farmer to my table the better!)...and I just get really happy seeing my kids eating foods that I know are good for them...that we thought out well so that they taste good, and are healthy! Love <3 You are an amazing chef and baker!

The Montgomerys said...

p.s I've always had a deep love affair with the comma. My English college professor would call me the comma splice queen :)

Lindsey said...

This is great! Yes, I like to cook too, well most of the time... It's been a little stressful making dinner now that Lily's in school. The late afternoons are crunch time now-pick up, park time, snack time, homework, make dinner, get ready for bed.etc... so I havn't tried any amazing recipes lately. But I love the blog-
it's good for those busy days. And I love Simply recipes too, she has the best "budget friendly" recipe section.

elisabeth. said...

I love this! And your cooking!