Thursday, June 26, 2008

So, what's going in this?

I love to cook. Even more so, I love to cook weird food. This blog is going to be a place where I cook up unusual recipes I find (or which readers send to me, HINT HINT), and do a wee bit of experimenting with food, and share the results. Since I can't put my whole story in my user profile, this is going to be my major inaugural post. So, here goes...

My cooking hobby got off to a rather inauspicious start when I was about four years old. The first thing I ever remember attempting to make was peanut butter, which might sound a bit ambitious until I tell you that to my 4-year-old mind equated "peanut butter" as "butter with peanuts mixed into it". As in, mixed with my grubby little hands until the butter was half-melted and slightly gray from my perpetually-dirty hands, which I then proudly presented to my mother.

Obviously, it became immediately clear to my mom that she had to protect her own health and squash whatever desire to cook that I had, at least for the time being. So, she hit on an ingenious little clause for me: anything I cooked, I had to clean the dishes afterward. And, I hated doing dishes, so I wound up cooking about once a year until I was in high school.

In high school, I had some extra space on my schedule, and I made the mistake of assuming that the Foods I/II classes my school offered in the Home Ec lab would be easy "A"s. Of course, the teacher knew that was what we students were thinking and was dead-set on making sure that NOBODY was going to breeze through the class. One C-/D+ exam later, and I was looking down the barrel of a shitty grade. So I baked chocolate-chip-walnut cookies for extra credit. I got a glowing note from the teacher with the comment that this was the first time anyone had done anything like that for extra credit. Naturally, rather than study to an "A", I just covered my butt doing extra credit cooking. From the cookies, I moved on to things like Jell-O cake and some recipe from my mom's collection of clipped recipes called "Wonder Pie". With my "A" secured, I graduated and went on to college.

Four years in college on a student's salary in a dorm with a communal kitchen area pretty much killed any drive I had to cook for a while, although the fact that I caused a fire alarm to go off and brought the fire department and police down on the place probably had a lot to do with it as well. The most daring thing I could bring myself to cook in college after that was the occasional saucepan of Zatarain's.

Right out of college, I landed a decent-paying job at a dot-com company near Chicago, which lasted for all of nine months until the dot-com bubble burst (and also the owner of said company got indicted on a $17 million stock fraud scam). I got hired by a company in Florida, moved down there, and for the last seven and a half years I've been putting part of my salary towards unusual kitchen gadgets, and buying groceries to prepare unusual food - the more unusual the better.