And so it begins…

29 Jul

I have decided to start a food blog.

I figured that was a better beginning than “hello world.”  But probably not by much.  How else do you begin though? Once upon a time just didn’t seem right…

Anyway, I have decided to start a food blog.  Here is a picture of pie.

When informed of this development, a close friend of mine asked what my niche was going to be; why this blog is special.  The short answer is: it’s not. The longer answer is that I don’t rightly know, at least not yet.  It may be that as time progresses I will find myself focusing my writing upon reviews of restaurants serving elaborate fusion meals whose main ingredient is purloined backyard chickens.  Or perhaps instead it will be made up of recipes for cocktails made of root vegetable juices and bathtub gin. The only way to find that out though is to start writing and see where fate leads.  Let’s call it the Calvinist approach to food-blogging.

For this first post, I don’t have a restaurant review or recipe to entertain you with.  Instead, here are a few things that influenced my love of food—or are food-related and I just happen to love.

My Parents

Note, I did not say just my mother.  Her cooking certainly did the most to shape my palate and my appreciation for good food.  When you grow up in the middle of nowhere Ohio, you don’t have the ability to run out to the nearest ethnic or gourmet restaurant.  That never mattered much to us.  My mother exposed us to world cuisine and fine dining from the (very narrow) confines of our home kitchen.  Not only that, but her advice was always that I better learn to cook because I love to eat well and “you can’t count on anyone else doing it for you.”  I took that message and ran with it.

My dad however, was equally influential in my development as a chef.  On the weekends, he was the one who would make the pancakes that have forever ruined me for any other pancake.  (I won’t tolerate a box of Bisquick within 100 yards of my house.)  As my sister and I helped with the pancake assembly, he let us taste each of the ingredients to get a sense of what pancakes are actually made of.  And he taught us the all-important first lesson of cooking: keep the ingredients in the bowl.  (A lesson I’m still working on instilling in my girlfriend, who frequently chooses bowls two sizes too small for the task at hand. J )

Cook’s Illustrated

It was five years ago that an unsolicited trial copy of Cook’s Illustrated first showed up in my mailbox. To this day, I don’t know where it came from or why.  I just know that from that day forward, my perspective on recipes was forever changed.  The magic of Cook’s Illustrated is that it doesn’t just tell you how to make a dish; it tells you why to make it that way.  It emphasizes technique as much as ingredients.

The time and attention that each and every recipe receives ensures that the end result will be amazing.  Perhaps their approach is too analytical for some, and I respect that opinion.  For me though, I love the fact that, as they like to say “When Cook’s Illustrated endorses a cheesecake, it’s because its editors made 45 of them.”  I’m the guy who reads hundreds of reviews before making even the most basic of purchases.  Cook’s Illustrated was made for people like me.

Cooking Light (cookbooks not the magazine)

Cook’s Illustrated is not my only go to source of recipes however.  I am a cookbook junkie.  If I only made recipes from my current collection of books, I could probably eat for a lifetime and never repeat a single recipe.  That being said, every year, I’m tempted to buy the newest compilation of recipes from Cooking Light.  Sometimes I resist, sometimes I don’t.

The reason I’m so tempted is because the recipes from Cooking Light are almost always spot on.  They aren’t like so much of today’s “healthy” cooking, which just substitutes highly processed ingredients for real food. (WhoNu?, I’m looking at you.)  Instead of relying on tricks of food chemistry and modern science, however, most of their recipes just focus on food that tastes good on its own.  Without a lot of fat or salt to pump up the flavor, many of the recipes end up being heavily spiced.  So, you may have to invest a small fortune in building up your spice cabinet.  It’s a small price to pay for really flavorful food though.  (And can inspire record-store clerk level of self-satisfied bragging.  If that’s your thing.  I personally gave it up after being bested by a friend’s Madagascarian vanilla bean that he brought back from Madagascar and dried himself.)

I could go on. There are many things that I love about food: cast iron, sharp knives, my grill, and Alton Brown.  Oh, and Skillet.  But I won’t.  If only because I hope this is what will be the first of many posts, and I don’t want to 1) prematurely bore my nascent audience or 2) use up all of my good material.

Until next time.

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One Response to “And so it begins…”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beer — A Movement in Three Parts « Pie are Round - October 9, 2012

    […] As time progressed though, I eventually came to appreciate the beauty of the age-old, yet simple, process by which water, grain, hops, and yeast transforms into the wondrous beverage that we call beer.  By the time I was in college, I had taken up the hobby myself, brewing my own batches of beer under his watchful eye and taking the finished product off to school with me. (More on the ways that my dad influenced me as a cook here.) […]

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