It wasn’t until my adult life that it occurred to me, making meals can be an art and not simply something done in survival mode out of necessity. My early attempts at cooking took a ride in tandem with my studies in graduate school to complete my masters in elementary education. I played a bit here and there but my primary focus was on developing my skills as a classroom teacher. I taught for eleven years in a very fine school district where the children received the best in everything, especially their education. Teachers in our district were treated like every teacher dreams of. We were given countless opportunities for post graduate training, had outstanding support from our administrators, solid financial compensation and a great deal of pride in representing our schools. But I grew bored. Once I had my own child my nesting instincts kicked in big time and more than anything, I wanted to be home full time with my baby in the role of Mommy.
2006 brought tremendous excitement to my world. Through a series of fortunate and spectacular events (which I’ll share at another time) I began my work in national network television production September of that year. Cooking segments were an integral part of our show which was geared towards women. To say my experience was spectacular could never do it justice. From laughing and chatting with Paula Deen and tasting her cooking and countless other Food Network chefs to enjoying the sunshine that is Marie Osmond who could make anyone happy just by being in her presence. My television work gives me the creative and writing experiences I so adore. It has inspired me in my cooking and role as a wife and mom. Our show was relocated the summer of 2007 and shortly after that my family and I relocated to the California desert. There is no tv work where we live and I miss it but adore writing and of course baking and cooking. For me my blog is now the part of my journey that brings so many of my worlds together and my own little world of creativity that I can share with you.
As a child growing up in my home, breakfast was a glass of chocolate milk, lunch was always catered by the world renowned Chef Boyardee and dinner was reluctantly pulled together by my mom Monday through Friday and included one of the following from each food group:
Broiled hamburgers, seasoned with seasoned salt.
Broiled chicken parts bone in, seasoned with seasoned salt.
Broiled chicken breast, seasoned with seasoned salt.
Broiled turkey burgers, seasoned with seasoned salt.
Microwaved sweet potato, flavored with margarine.
Microwaved baked potato, flavored with margarine.
All Del Monte Canned:
Peas and carrots
Fresh Vegetables Boiled Beyond Recognition (and heavily salted)
Cooking just wasn’t her thing. Friday through Sunday we ate at the local diners, Italian restaurants and Sunday faithfully brought in Chinese food with an occasional meal taking place at the restaurant. The tedious, same tasting weekday meals often led to protests by my brother and I, holding up signs while marching “We’re on strike! We”re on strike!” hopefully thinking our early displays of independence would lead my mom to discover a new found love for the culinary arts. Didn’t happen.
There were occasionally some windows of hope. Glimpses of light peeking into our kitchen. I remember when I was around 10 Mom had come across a recipe for meatballs and we went on to a weekly spaghetti and meatballs meal (dense roundish globes of ground beef grasping at the jarred tomato sauce for a chance at flavor). But it was a thrill. Sauce! Sauce with our meal. No Lowry’s Seasoned Salt! Her joy of pasta led to a most interesting birthday party where I invited over a dozen or so friends to celebrate my big day with a spaghetti and meatball meal. Mom was excited to share our family’s love of her favorite dish with my friends. They showed up and we sat around the kitchen table crowded around and giggling away while strands slipped and sauce splattered. My world of food had grown so exciting and I was so proud of my Donna Reedesque mom. Until the meal was done and there was nothing more planned. Mom was so caught up in the spaghetti and meatballs that we never planned other activities. Except eating. The meal ended, we moved as a group and into the den and stared at one another’s sauce stained faces searching for what to do next. We quickly moved on to opening my gifts and the one that stayed with me the most from that day was the pride and joy Mom felt in creating the feast.
There were other times I remember a recipe guiding my mother towards a meal. She loved to prepare family traditional meals for the holidays and I loved those times so dearly. On occasion she’d bring me in on the mystical secrets of how a coffee cake magically went from sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter to a taste of heaven, but not often. Mostly I’d sit back and enjoy the aromas and wait until I could taste the finished product.
As an adult first out on my own and being an artist at heart I decided to take matters into my own hands and took a couple of cooking classes. When my husband and I became engaged I was given several cookbooks as gifts. These classes and the books began the road to my self taught culinary education as The Cookbook Apprentice. Come join me on my journey as I intimately cook my way through a vast collection of books, magazines and websites one recipe at a time.