Saly asked me: I also want to know how you became so interested in as well as so diversified in everything culinary.
First of all there are a few things I should say. I don't know shit about food. Aside from 8 private classes at a culinary school here in my town I have no formal schooling. That being said, you should also know that I am a firm believer that schooling or not you need to have a passion for food and put heart into it to be able to cook. Anyway I will share with you my thoughts and beliefs on food, in a lovely little bulleted post.
- Like I said above, you need to love your food. I don't mean love it like a fat person loves cake, but love it for what it is. Food is there to taste good, and nourish you, and if you are cooking it for someone else it is there to show them how you feel about them. In my personal opinion, if you are cooking for a loved one you put your whole heart into it. Don't just throw something on a plate and call it good, put you heart into it. The number one way to tell when I'm in a funk, my food suffers. To most people it is still fine, but to my husband and I, its obvious when I'm having a bad week. I smile and laugh and purely enjoy every second of cooking every night. I enjoy it especially now that my husband eats vegetables.
- In my opinion this world over seasons food. I realize that we have grown up in a Dorito, trans fat, MSG super sodium world and that means when we cook at home a lot of us have a tendency to put to much SHIT on their food. When I cook most of the time, my food is very umm unmodified. When I cook a vegetable I like to taste my vegetable not butter and spice and shit. I like veggie, maybe some garlic and some olive oil. When I cook Mexican for myself, its simple flavors, some beans some veggies and a bit of salsa. I make my husbands two ways, some times with cumin and chilli powder and sometimes with just garlic and onions and then he can put some salsa on. He commented to me once that Americans really screw up Mexican food by putting to much shit in it. I didn't believe him and then I made the pork carnitas. I made them the way they were meant to be made. With onions and garlic and thats it. Everyone kept saying add peppers add this, yours will be plain and bland. My husband responded, NO I like to taste what I'm eating. I felt like a proud mom at that point knowing my husband preferred the natural unmodified food as opposed to over seasoned shit. I prefer a little stock on something to some kind of creamy gloppy canned soup dumped over it, I prefer to roast something then to boil it. I just like food to taste it's best.
- My passion for cooking came from birth. I've always had an interest in it. When I was little my mom had some old spice rack sitting outside and I took it and started spicing up my mud cakes before I fed them to the neighbor dogs. (FYI dogs like their mud cakes au natural also, NOT with cayenne pepper). My grandpa cooks too, also with no schooling, but simply from the heart. He was a military cook meaning he had to learn how to make stuff good and be creative. I love cooking. I'm calm while I cook, I'm peaceful and I am so proud to present my food.
- BE CREATIVE! I hate it when people don't think outside the box. Cooking isn't hard. Food doesn't have to be eaten the way you've always eaten it. For instance, with salads, ANYTHING can go on a salad. Doesn't matter what. Try out different beans, and different nuts, and cheeses. Salad isn't only croûtons and tomatoes. It's not just jarred salad dressings. IT'S NOT JUST DRESSINGS. I've used sour cream with salsa or hummus or just salsa in place of dressing. I've tried olives in my potato salad and sunflower seeds in my stir fry (YUM). I put chips on my sandwich (ruffles on pb&j whoah will blow your mind), and I like to use chips, or nuts or seeds in place of croûtons. I make pizza on pitas instead of dough. I've tasted whole wheat pasta with an open mind and I liked it better. The key here is to not be afraid!
- Not to advocate diets but sometimes trying different diets teaches you more about food. I've done Atkins and I've lived a gluten free lifestyle, and also tried being lactose free. Doing the entire diet might not be for you, BUT being restricted really teaches you to try new thing. It forces you to open your brain and think outside the box. When I want something I don't think, gee I'll run to the store and get it, I think how can I create that with what I have. When I make macaroni I use different cheese. When I want soup, I don't buy canned shit. I open my fridge look at the veggies and beans and potatoes and stock I have and think DUH SOUP! I put in garlic, leeks, spinach, cabbage, red beans, black beans, canalini beans, different spices (not much I like to taste my veggies), real tomatoes, and so on. I don't limit myself. It always always test better then a stupid can. Then I top it with different kinds of chips or cheeses. I try different breads. Rosemary bread rocks my socks. I can no longer eat plain frumpy bread I need rosemary or sourdough or ciabatta!
- Another thing I like to do is play with sauces. I make a great spicy lemon sauce, heavy cream lemon peels, red pepper flakes, poultry seasoning, cayenne pepper, and thats it. It's great on chicken and fish and asparagus. Experiment with one base and then tossing other things in to make a nice little dipping sauce for your food.
- As you cook, taste your food. How will you know if it is good unless you taste it first? I taste the whole way through the cooking. Remember things get spicier as they cook, pepper gets hotter if it is on direct heat as opposed to in a sauce, make sure you have enough garlic, enough salt, its not too sour or too sweet. TASTE TASTE TASTE!
- Try and use fresh stuff when you can. I do not use anything out of a can besides beans when I don't have time to make my own. I mostly buy fresh veggies, but for veggie dip I will use frozen spinach. Try and buy organic, try and buy fresh, take pride in what you buy, it may cost more, but in the end it adds years to your life, sets great examples for your kids and cost less then fast food or processed caca food!
- Most of all, remember, don't hide your food taste it, try everything once (no Rob this doesn't mean I will try tongue or other meats, I DON'T EAT MEAT).