Thursday, September 10, 2009

It has been one year since I started teaching myself how to cook. Somehow, I left the nest without that skill and managed to happily subsist on Aunt Jemima pancakes, tortillas with cheese, frozen pizza, and microwave burritos for many, many years.

But last year, the likes of Gary Taubes, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Sally Fallon changed my life forever, and I went from having to look up the "recipe" for hard-boiling eggs to sauteing chard and beet greens in bacon grease with onion and hot chili flakes in a cast iron pan.

Last year I believed that feeding my children anything labelled "organic"--from mac & cheese to boxed cereal--was doing the best for them. In the past year, I have taught myself to make ratatouille, yogurt, pizza, sourdough bread, and even breakfast cereal. I have tried new recipe after new recipe, even learning to improvise and make up my own.

I taught myself to cook by watching PBS cooking shows while Sissy napped and Snacks was in school, by watching and listening to my friend (and chef extraordinaire) Kristie, and by reading Sandor Katz, Mark Bittman, and Alice Waters. I've come from asking John to cut up an onion for me to being able to give Rachael Ray a run for her money on a fine dice. I made little post-it notes for my refrigerator that show me how big a 1/4" dice or 3/8" slice should be. I unplugged my microwave and took it to the basement.

Sometimes I get really overwhelmed, and sometimes we just throw in the towel and order an "Emergency Pizza", but I'm proud of how far I've come, and I can't wait to see where I go from here.