I have been in a love affair with food and cooking my whole life.
My mother taught me to cook so effortlessly and smoothly that I don’t really remember learning – it’s as if one day I just woke up knowing how to make a meringue that would rise beautifully and how much cold water to add to pie dough to make it bind but still retain its flaky goodness.
I transitioned seamlessly from an Easy Bake oven at 8 to a decent repertoire of cookies, cakes and pies by the time I was about 12.
My early start with desserts and baking gave way over time to my real love, which is anything savory or spicy. I’ll pass up a creme brûlée for a wedge of Brie any time, and prefer Pico de Gallo to chocolate.
Cooking for enjoyment is an extremely creative endeavor. As painters play with brush sizes, paint colors and different strokes, adjusting approaches from one painting to the next, so do cooks play with ingredients and techniques. We adjust recipes to add flair, emphasize a certain taste or texture, match them with other dishes for a cohesive menu, or update them for special occasions. We tempt friends and family by making their favorites in a new way or adding ingredients they love to new dishes.
It’s the experimentation that is the most fun for me in the kitchen.
I learned from my mother to follow a new recipe exactly as written the first time, and then after learning how it is supposed to taste, to play with it and see what evolves. Mom was great about capturing additions and changes to recipes in the margins of her 400+ cookbooks, and it still delights me to open one of her old favorites and see her comments. Like her, all good cooks play with recipes to find their own best version. Then forever after, no one calls the dish by its original name; it becomes “Kim’s Gumbo” or “Theresa’s Key Lime Pie” or “that wonderful goat cheese dip you made for the party last year”. (Click for the recipe.)
I spend a significant amount of time on weekends in the kitchen here at Glover Gardens (our home), literally playing with food. Most of the dishes in my repertoire have been adapted from recipes or inspired by restaurant offerings that were already terrific, but the additions and changes make them mine.
So that’s the theme of the cookbook I’m writing and this blog where I’ll post recipes for testing and input – for each recipe, I hope you’ll make it my way, then make it yours. And have a great time sharing it with others, the way I do.
I’d love to see my concoctions continue their evolution in your kitchen, and can’t wait to hear what you do with them as you play and experiment with new twists on them.
You can read more about how I’ve been inspired by food and love and life’s surprises in my little collection of memoirs. Click here. And by the way, I’d like to know what inspires you. Please feel free to leave a comment here or on any of the posts to start our conversation.
Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook