I love food. I love to cook food. I love trying new recipes and experimenting and adapting and trying new, different, and sometimes strange foods. If I have to eat the same thing too many times in a week or even a month I get bored.
I blame this need for variety in my diet on my mother. She was forever trying new recipes, sometimes with excellent results, and sometimes we ended up eating cereal or PB&J instead. She only made the same recipe at most twice in a month and had an accordion file stuffed full with recipes to try clipped from newspapers and magazines. We didn’t have leftovers, we had buffets once a week. These buffets may have been the remains of the meals from the week, but wow, what variety. Hence buffet rather than leftovers.
Despite the variety, we had our family favorites and traditions. My mom kept them in a shoebox because they no longer fit in a standard recipe box. When I got my first place, I went through that recipe box and picked out some favorites, which my mom then wrote out on cards to start my own box. My box ended up almost 3/4 the way full and I hadn’t even started adding new stuff! Since then, I’ve found other recipes I didn’t get the first time around, most of them family traditions or memories, that I’ve had to call my grandmother or my aunt or my mom to get. I now need a second recipe box as there is very little room left in the first. What’s worse is that I have my own accordion file of recipes to try on top of the full recipe box of ones I already know I love and enjoy! And I watch too much Food Network (favorites include Alton Brown and Iron Chef) which only makes it worse as it gives me lots of ideas.
I used to help my mom make dinner and desserts. The most impressive looking holiday dessert yet deceptively easy one to make was Pumpkin Roll. Always a hit. And I could make it my myself with very little help by the time I was 8 years old. The first dinner I remember cooking all on my own was a cheese souffle. It was part of a vegetarian dinner I made to earn a Girl Scout patch on cooking. I was no more than 10. What’s amazing is that it didn’t fall. It turned out perfect. I was hooked.
Cooking is instant gratification. I love the process. I love enjoying the results. And it’s time I can legitimately take for myself after a long day at work without feeling guilty. This was especially useful during graduate school, as it gave me time to relax before I had to tackle my assignments.
The downside to this love of cooking and food is that I have developed expensive tastes. I can tell the difference between good olive oil and poor quality olive oil. This means I end up spending a larger percentage of my take home pay (after bills and some savings of course) on groceries. The way I see it, I can get books and videos from the library for free, so I don’t need to spend money on them. I don’t need to purchase new clothes all that often. Other than gifts for friends and spoiling my dog, I’d rather spend my money on food than almost anything else.