Hi everyone. I posted in this forum about two weeks ago when I joined the site, and kept wondering sadly why nobody ever responded to say hello... finally I came back into this forum to see how far down the page my welcome post had dropped, and discovered that it evidently never went through at all! Well, no wonder nobody liked me, lol.
I'm a 29 yr old home cook, and I occasionally do some light catering-type work (mostly cakes, sometimes canned chilis, soups and stews) which I'm trying to increase this year. I'm also about to launch a cooking-related website that features articles on food science and how the cooking and baking processes work, interesting "did you know?" anecdotes about foods, and a handful of step-by-step instructional recipes aimed at people who bought books called "Cooking for Dummies" only to find that many of those titles still assume that you know whether your stove is gas or electric, that you own a cutting board and something sharper than a butter knife, and that you don't need the term "preheat" explained. As the older sibling of a college athlete who lives in an apartment with three teammates, I have found that none of the above are good assumptions to make regarding the culinarily challenged. I'm actually working on a section for the website devoted to equipment and ingredient substitutions. From time to time I stay at my sister's apartment for a couple days and do some recipe testing in her tiny ill-equipped kitchen, as background research (and to save her roommates from starving to death). Not everybody owns a colander or a set of measuring cups or a muffin tin -- particularly true of the student and beginner demographic at whom my site is aimed -- and so I want to offer complete instructions for making do with whatever you might have on hand instead.
I've been cooking for a long time, on and off as my health fluctuates. My mom is a wonderful cook and even as a little kid my favorite games tended to involve making pretend food in pretend restaurants in my backyard, using differently shaped and colored foliage, flowers, and of course the occasional mud pie. But I've had severe rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 12, and the disease as well as the medications have taken a toll over the years. I currently suffer from advanced osteoporosis and Cushing's thanks to corticosteroid dependence, and on the side there's also chronic anemia, hypoglycemia, persistent nausea, and recurring migraines. I've never been physically able to work outside my home -- I have some great days and some good days and some okay days, the combination of which happily outnumber the days when I can't use the toilet by myself, but unfortunately most employers don't consider it acceptable to call in sick 10% of the time and show up another 20% unable to stay on my feet longer than an hour. So I live with my parents and try my best to contribute to the household and society as best I can. I'm hoping to eventually be able to generate a decent income from my website, as well as the cakes and canned foods I sell, and and in the future offering personal one-on-one cooking classes via webcam.
In my ideal life, I would have liked to have been a cook. A real one, I mean, to work in the industry. I've never been healthy enough to even have a job at McDonald's. My dream would be to attend culinary school but obviously that isn't realistic, given that even on my best days loaded up with painkiller I still can't stay on my feet more than a few hours, can't lift more than 10 lbs, can't bend down or reach up. My knife skills are nonexistant because my hands are very weak and also kinda clawed up, but I do it "my way" and manage to get along fairly well, if not very fast. I don't like to be stopped in the kitchen by my physical limitations so I tend to find alternate techniques that work better for me, often cooking foods in small batches either one after another or simultaneously but in separate pans (so I don't have to lift a full 12" skillet). If that isn't possible I turn to specialized equipment, and only as a last resort admit I'm going to need help getting 4 gallons of boiling water off the stovetop, or similar dilemmas. I have several small and medium skillets and saucepans with a second outer handle (of the sort usually found on larger\heavier cookware), a 6" Wusthof chef's knife that suits my little hands, and an army of lightweight plastic mixing and serving bowls and utensils.
Well, that's who I am. I'm pleased to be here and hope to meet everybody on the forums!