Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Challenge: What Defines Me?


That's me hangin' in my favorite apron.
Our first challenge for Project Food Blog (to see more about that click here) is to post about what defines us as a food blogger and why we should be the next food blog star.

I really haven’t taken a breath since I started this blog, so the time for an inward glance at why I do this, seems pretty appropriate. I think like most food bloggers, it comes from a deep passion for cooking and eating. For me, it’s that plus working in my love of art, expression and family into each story, recipe and photo. It also comes from knowing that in order to keep this Mama happy, I absolutely must do something creative that involves only me. Not that I don’t love doing “craps” (a.k.a “crafts”) with my kiddos and lunging enthusiastically at loads of laundry, it just that Mommy needs something that is completely her, for her and by her. When I express myself, either through my photographs, a recipe I’ve come up with in the fury of dinnertime countdown, or writing a story about why the waiting room smells at the local doctor’s office, when I press that “publish” button, I feel so good. I’ve sent something out there into the world that is a piece of me and hoping others will want to share in it.

"craps" in action

Around the age of 8 or 9, I became enthralled in the art of cooking. It was becoming clearer to me that it was something I deeply wanted to pursue. I had been envisioning myself as an artist for some time, since around the age 3, but when I became aware of the art of cooking, something new awoke. I think it’s for the fact that cooking is a craft. The process of crafting and construction is my favorite thing about art and also my favorite thing about cooking. It’s art you can eat.

My mom was my first window through which I viewed cooking and food. She always included me in her cooking adventures. Even though she started out married life labeled as one who “could burn water”, she has, over the years, turned into a fabulous cook. I feel honored that I was included in her journey.

This is my grandma Maria. That smile tells me there's meatballs in that pot.

Next to my mom, I would have to say my grandmother Maria was most influential. Though I never got to actually cook with her (only eat her food), her Italian heritage that came through in her cooking is still engraved in the corners of my culinary mind, but more importantly, in my sentimental heart. I am particularly enamored with Italian and Mediterranean food, for the flavor and for the comfort factor.

Lastly, I owe much of my awakened culinary love to the kings and queens of PBS cooking shows, that is, before Food Network. Graham Kerr to Julia Child, Jeff Smith to Martin Yan, they all filled me with wonder and joy as I watched them throw loaves of French bread over their shoulders (Julia) to furiously chopping green onions as they counted aloud (Martin). After a Saturday morning “breakfast” of their culinary wisdom, I would stand on my little green stool in front of the kitchen sink and profess that I was going to be a chef (as I talked to my T.V. audience).

Years later, I did take a community college food prep course, after I graduated high school. I did well in execution and following directions and memorizing recipes, but I did not enjoy the pressure of the clock breathing down my chef whites. I found that I wanted to cook out of pleasure. So I did not continue on to becoming a chef, but I did learn what I wanted…which was just to cook because I loved it.

The "Hubs".

My husband has been my greatest cheerleader over the years (in the most manliest of ways) by his constant encouragement and adventurous eating habits. Since day one, cooking has been my number one way to say that I love him. He happily receives this love language.

My kids (though they have no clue as to what blogging is) cheer me on by picking up their Fisher-Price toy cameras and clicking away as I photograph a plate of cupcakes. And even though they turn their adorable noses up at some of my kitchen shenanigans, I don’t mind, because I know, in time they will grow to love a myriad of flavors.

My handsome Bubba.

My spunky 'lil Boo.

And my precious Tiny.

And then there are my parents, who show me they believe in me (which they have since I was a wee one) by picking up interesting kitchen props as they make their way through flea markets on the weekends and send them to me parcel post in a giant computer box…that is love.

The box.

The loot. Nice, huh?

Those who know me best, see the sparkle in my eye, see the wheels turning, know to stay out of the way and let me continue my train of thought (well, those who are over 3 foot high anyway) as I plan for a post. They patiently tolerate the endless photography sessions with a loaf of bread, refrain from digging into their highly anticipated cup of lobster bisque so I can capture it in its undisturbed form, and know not to throw away any scrap of paper from the kitchen counter as it may contain the perfect ratio for the perfect iced mocha.

Basically, I do this because I love it. As far as why I should be the next food blog star, well, I think the above says it all. If I become the next food blog star, I will have won because of who I am as an individual...that and I can make a mean meat-a-ball.

Thanks for taking a mini tour of my culinary past and present.

Love ya, Foodies.
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