Monday, December 5, 2011

Cooking Inspirations

I've loved to cook my whole life.

At age 5 I made my first dinner (mostly) unassisted... jello and meatballs. At age 11, I catered a dinner party for my dad's boss.

I had a little paring knife that my mom would let me use and I soon learned to do anything with it... peeling cucumbers, chopping onions, boning chicken, butterflying pork chops. When I graduated to an 8" French chef's knife, I thought I'd officially made it in the culinary world. That beauty made light work of mincing garlic!

Cooking is in my blood. My parents are both excellent cooks who hail from lines of excellent cooks. My dad can turn a piece of meat into a work of art "that could talk to you," and my mother, besides whipping out savory delicacies every night of my childhood, can entertain with the grace and charm of a beautifully set table, arranged flowers, and uplifting conversation. My siblings are amazing in the kitchen, and several of my aunts, uncles and cousins are professional chefs and caterers. We just love to cook (and eat).

Every Saturday growing up, my family watched cooking shows together on PBS. PBS aired cooking shows before cooking shows were cool... before a whole network was devoted to Food.

Paul Prudhomme, Justin Wilson, and John Folse for Cajun/Creole fare, Rick Bayless and Steven Pyles taught Tex/Mex, Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) for Asian cuisine, America's Test Kitchen for the science of cooking, Cucina Amore (with the Carrabbas) and Lydia Bastianich for Italian, Julia Child for all things French, BBQ University and The Frugal Gourmet for American.... all of them were inspirational to me in one way or another.

My all-time favorite, however, was Jacques Pépin. He not only makes delicious food, but it's beautiful, an art, a gift. How can you watch this man and not be inspired?

How to debone a chicken.

Cream puff swans in a caramel cage.

Who are the chefs that inspire you?


Justicegibson said...

I love Jaques too!  I was reading your list and wondering "Where is Jaque?  How could she forget him?"  I just started reading his autobiography!

Julia Child is wonderful too.  I saw an episode where she made an apple tart and it fell apart when she de-panned it.  She just covered it with powdered sugar and assured the viewers that no one would ever know it wasn't supposed to look like that.

Alton Brown is my favorite though, when I have the time and the patience that most of his recipes require.

Mary Green said...

Yes to John Folse, I have an autographed copy of his cajun and creole encyclopaedia, preparing every recipe is a goal of mine but not having access to fresh and reasonably priced seafood poses a major problem

Farmer's City Wife said...

It's amazing what one can do with a little powdered sugar ;).
I like Alton Brown's recipes, but his stilted speech drives me insane :-D.

Mary Green said...

Yes to John Folse, I have an autographed copy of his cajun and creole
encyclopaedia, preparing every recipe is a goal of mine but not having
access to fresh and reasonably priced seafood poses a major problem.

Farmer's City Wife said...

I hear ya on the seafood!! I was just thinking, this morning, how much more I'd like to do with it, but how prohibitively expensive it is. A rare delicacy it will remain :).

Katherine said...

I envy you! In my 40's I'm still struggling with cooking. My mother is an immigrant and when she cooked her native food it was good, but more often she tried her hand at "American" food and meals were pretty mediocre - a lot of canned and packaged foods. The joke in our family is that my mother cooks "holy meat" - she cooks the hell out of it. My sisters and I have reacted by becoming almost food snobs - you know, making pumpkin pie from our own pumpkins and going out to the garden for fresh herbs. I tend to cook basic hearty foods since for me food is just something to keep you going (and celebrate with occasionally). Although my husband said he married me for my pies and homemade bread. A couple of my sisters married great cooks and they have learned much more than I. So we eat gourmet and artistically when we visit them.. I did watch some old Julia Child shows on youtube awhile ago and I really enjoyed her and actually learned some basics.

Rachel said...

Makes you realize how much of an art cooking is!

I think it's time I owned my French heritage and learn to cook some fancy things! :)

Thanks for the inspiration!

Farmer's City Wife said...

You can make pies and homemade bread and yet you claim to "struggle with cooking"!? :-p pshaw! :-D

Farmer's City Wife said...

Anytime, Rachel :).

I actually did that chicken deboning trick tonight. Fancy!! And not too hard.

Pam Elmore said...

So you're ready to do a turducken for Christmas dinner! :)

Farmer's City Wife said...

Yes, yes, and yes!! I was thinking duckgoosen, but we'll see ;).

Villette Cottrell said...

 I'm so jealous that you started out so early=) I wish my parents let me play in the kitchen when I was younger=)
fitted kitchens

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