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Greetings and salutations!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I've been lurking for quite a while and have made a few posts already, but a proper introduction is in order. I really appreciate the wealth of information here and the selfless manner in which folks share their expertise.

 

My story probably pretty common. I'm a home cook who has always enjoyed cooking, but was often put off by simply following recipes, finding the process unsatisfying if not outright boring at times. I experienced a small personal renaissance when I inherited my Grandfather's old cookbooks among other things. Books about hows and whys, not "follow these instructions". Diving into his old 1963 (English) printing of Larrouse Gastronomique really opened my eyes. I'm slowly expanding my small library and H. McGee, J. Childs, D.P. Larousse and this site are helping to continue the journey. Recipes are often now just starting points; I find it much more satisfying to look at the pantry shelves and create something on the spot than to follow Mrs. Rombauer's instructions to a tee.

 

For what it's worth, my first three jobs years ago were at establishments that produced food (I hesitate to call them restaurants), so I have a small glimpse into and a real appreciation and respect for how hard you professional cooks, chefs, etc. work at your craft.

 

I'm an engineer by nature and trade and naturally gravitate towards wanting to know the fundamentals of a subject rather than focusing on wrote memorization or pure direction following. This also means I need to apologize in advance for the overly detailed, long winded posts I'm sure to place on this site from time to time.

 

I feel my culinary knowledge has grown significantly compared to a few years ago, but of course I have huge, massive, GAPING holes and a great deal to learn. I expect I'll never stop learning.

 

Thanks for your patience!

 

Doug

post #2 of 7

Hello Doug! Thank you for the introduction. Your path sounds a lot like mine (with the addition of two wonderful home cooks from whom I learned all the basics). You're right that it's not an unusual path. But it led us and several thousand others here where we can enjoy sharing and learning.

 

Since you've been lurking here, you must know we had Harold McGee as a special guest here some time ago. I hope you read the threads associated with his "visit". If you have suggestions for other special guests, we'd be happy to hear of them.

 

From the sound of your reading and cookbook list, you seem to cook mostly classical recipes and modern interpretations of them (a la Julia Child). Are there any recipes you love that are part of your heritage or family repertroire?

 

We hope you make Chef Talk a regular stop, and that you enjoy participating in the community.

Regards,

Mezzaluna

 

P.S.- I take it you feel we're not part of the problem on the Internet. bounce.gif

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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Honestly, I can't say there are any stand-out family classics I can think of. My Mom is an accomplished cook in her own rite, but the food we ate growing up was Better Homes and Gardens / Betty Crocker / Joy of cooking fare. Well, there are a few things, one being an unusual but delicious sweet bean chili served with buttered crackers and a Mock Turtle Soup that has been handed down the generations.  The true family classics were Grandpa's pies, but sadly all but two recipes were lost when he passed: Peanut Butter Pie and Chocolate Cream pie. Once I can nail down a really good pie crust, I'll make 'em. I suspect the quality of his creations were more about the care and attention he put into them than the recipes themselves though.

 

I can't say the cookbooks I have at this point reflect any particular style since many were inherited and the ones I've personally acquired represent my desire to have great references to learn from. It's interesting though to look at Gramp's books and see he was on a similar path at one point. They range from various Home's and Garden's guides, "The Art of Greek Cookery", "Larousse Gastronomique", "The Williamsburg Cookbook", "The Professional Chef", "The Household Searchlight Recipe Book" (1936), "Picayune Creole Cook Book", "Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans", "Practical Salad and Dessert Art"  plus countless tattered clippings and small pamphlets like "M.F. Foley Company: Epicurean on Sea Food".  He clearly built a reputation and career based on hard work and performance, since somehow he managed to work his way up from busser, waiter, Maitre'D, Banquet Manager, etc. to Chief Steward / Head Chef on the Delta Queen and was invited to teach in Cornell's "Distinguished Chef Series" in the 70s with no official "credentials"

 

My books include the 1975 edition of "Joy of Cooking", "Better Homes and Gardens", "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", "Indian Home Cooking", I'm Just Here for the Food", "The Silver Palate Cook Book", "On Food and Cooking" and "The Soup Bible". I usually order 1 new book per paycheck (month); the next few will probably be "The Flavor Bible" and "Complete Techniques". I usually crack at least one open every few days and read a section or two instead of rotting my brain in front of the boob-tube.  I won't say I've absorbed even a tiny fraction of any of them, but for example, Larousse and "On Food and Cooking" have helped me vastly improve simple things like humble scrambled eggs and omelettes, searing and deglazing and bechamel sauce. Do I have any desire to attempt Foie Gras though? No. My next project will likely be simple French Onion Soup. I can't explain why I've never thought to make it; I love the stuff. The chances I'll follow any individual recipe are quite slim. Instead, I'll probably obsess, study every book I have, scour this site and come up with a concoction of my own that might be a surprising first attempt or a horrifying disaster. ...and then adjust 'n try again.

 

And there it is, an overly long post. I told you this would happen.

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

 

PS. I completely forgot the contents of my avatar! This site is certainly a bright spot on the net.

 

post #4 of 7

Hi Doug and Welcome!

 

You'll find many people here from many walks of life and different journeys.  All willing to help and give advice.  The archives can also be a great help for finding information you may wish to access.

 

As you obviously like to read, I would personally reccomend anything written by Elizabeth David.  She is one of my favourite writers.  She has a very relaxed but fascinating style of writing that tempts you in to what she is describing in the recipe.  Not strict on measurements, which again de-stresses the Joy of Cooking.

 

I hope you find what you are looking for here - I certainly have :)

 

DC

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I like the concept of de-stressing...on multiple levels. 

 

If I learn something new, I've found what I'm looking for.

 

Doug

post #6 of 7

Hi Doug and welcome. Thanks for joining up with us it will be great to learn from you. 

 

Now the serious question, will you sell the - "old 1963 (English) printing of Larrouse Gastronomique".... Just kidding.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Trust me, I'll be learning from you.

 

As for the "vintage" cookbooks, old Sabatiers and such, they're my link to my Grandfather. Every stained page and scribbled note tells a story. There is no amount of money that could convince me to part with them.   :)

 

Thanks for the warm welcome.  It's clear this board is a real community.

 

Doug

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