I often find myself amused by life’s odd twists and turns. Not least among them is the fact that I have somehow become a not just a voice for the curious culinarians of Southern Colorado, but something of a food authority.
Trust me, ain’t no one would have predicted that.
You see, I’m not an innate epicurean. I wasn’t peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables at my mom’s side from childhood, like my much-more-qualified husband. I didn’t go to culinary school or even take an intro to cooking course somewhere along the line. In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I took a class was eighth-grade home ec. … and I managed to scald my own thumb then during the comparatively-benign process of making a gingerbread house.
Rather, I’m a graduate of the Ultra Competitive, Fake it Until You Make it, If You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance, Baffle Them With Bullshit Culinary Institute. There’s virtually no admission criteria (a willingness to have some fun and take a chance not withstanding) and it doesn’t cost anything more than the price of ingredients.
Because here’s the thing:
You don’t need to be a great chef in order to be a great cook!
Repeat that. Process it. Digest it. And then join us. We have cookies.
Growing up, my beloved, possibly baffled, most-certainly fed-up mother tried desperately to teach me how to cook … or at least to boil a pot of water. But hell, she was a great cook and I didn’t mind raw pasta (confession: I still don’t!) so who needed to know which end of the skillet was up? There was way too much fun to be had, well, anywhere other than the kitchen.
I’m not kidding you, my freshman year of college, I could get an entire day’s worth of calories out of a can of tuna and some creamed corn. My time in graduate school found me living on salads, hummus, tofu pad Thai, popcorn and Jägermeister. Not necessarily in that order.
But in the time between, I went to Spain and fell in love with Mediterranean cuisine. And somehow, my Spanish host mother managed to do what my biological mother — despite her myriad of talents and immense effort — could not. She taught me a thing or two in the kitchen. Before I knew it, I was attempting to craft my own culinary curiosities and out-of-my-league kitchen nonsense like homemade seafood paella. Often while swigging Rioja.
The other great revelation driving my culinary renaissance (or awakening at all, depending on how you look at it) was meeting and falling in love with my husband. As previously inferred, Andy grew up cooking at his mother’s elbow. And while there’s a lot more to this story, the simple fact is he is an amazing chef. The man can taste a recipe and tell you not just what’s in it, but also what it lacks. He can reach into a nearly empty fridge and (granted, usually about 90 minutes later) pull out a masterpiece.
What I mean to say is, the man can cook! And since I’m ridiculously competitive (as also preciously inferred), I couldn’t have that, could I? So along the way, I went from being a passive observer/play-by-play culinary commentator perched on the corner counter to an active sous chef. Then chef de parti.
Today I may even go so far as to drop the gauntlet and kick Chef Andy out of the damn kitchen so I can take culinary control. More often, though, we work side-by-side, since our interests — he’s the main-course and sides man while I am perfectly content making beautiful salads or desserts — often coalesce without overlapping.
Why mention all of this? Because I want to be perfectly clear on one point.
We are not culinary professionals. We bring no professional training to the table … but we do collectively bring decades of experience, as well as our mutual love of good food, family, friends and fun. And we believe that the four are totally synergistic.
In our culture and today’s ever-hectic society, food is the thread that weaves together souls. For proof, consider these words from the late, great Anthony Bordain:
“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”
Look, not every recipe is going to be a culinary home run. It happens: we’re human.
Some days, your timing is right, the ingredients are fresh and you feel like a kitchen badass of Alton Brown-esque proportions. You nailed that gourmet roast duck recipe right out of the park, and you just can’t wait to snap some #foodporn photos and post them on Instagram. Do it! Share your pride! You deserve it!
Then there are the days when you are off your groove, when you can’t even get the water to boil properly and when you’re glad you replaced the batteries in the smoke detector last spring when we adjusted the clocks. No problem. It’s totally fine to toss out the evidence, head into town and imbibe in a burrito, extra queso dip and a margarita. (Note to self: Dinner idea #495.)
We want to If you have something you want to see us tackle, please, let us know! We love trying new adventures and taking on challenges, so speak up. It wasn’t until I was back at my folks’ place in Iowa for the last time that I realized I wanted to learn to how to make pasta. Now, with the noodle machine that I vaguely remember from my toddlerhood and early childhood days firmly ensconced in the house, my kitchen has often brought to mind one of Neil Young’s stage coats during his hippie days.
And hey, if you don’t like one of our recipes, feel free to make it your own. Maybe you, I dunno, like the idea of a vegetarian lasagna but can’t live without meat. Go ahead and sauté up some Italian sausage, I promise we won’t be offended.
The point of all this is to make cooking fun and to perhaps build a sense of community, if even a virtual one, by breaking bread. Although we may be apart, that doesn’t mean we can’t explore this delicious world together.
Buckle in, my friends; and bon appétit.