When I was a kid, I watched the Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook on Saturday mornings instead of cartoons. (I actually wrote a letter to Jeff Smith asking him why he used granite instead of marble for his pastry board - I'll find it and post it).
I wasn't allowed to cook much, but I was always underfoot in the kitchen observing. As my mom and dad lugged their instruments out of the house to head to band practice, I plotted and raided the kitchen, fixing silly recipes based on what my mom had in the pantry and refrigerator.
When my best friend's mom married a chef I was so pumped...until I learned that by the time he got home, he was burned out, and kept to cooking simple recipes. Still, I learned a lot from him about the magic of tomato paste.
Finally, in 2nd grade, I decided I was going to be a chef.
This decision was firm until my junior year of high school, when I met a chef who gave me some advice, "If you want a family, and you want to live a normal life, save cooking for a hobby. I work every night, every weekend, every holiday. I never see my kid." My stomach knotted. Yes, I loved cooking, but was I willing to sacrifice my other dreams to become a chef?
I talked it over with my mom, and we agreed that I would pursue my other interest - writing. That worked out, in the long run. I write for a living, and most of what I write about is related to agriculture and food. I consider that a win.
My enthusiasm for cooking remains. My kitchen is my other refuge, and I have a real passion for learning about ingredients, from who grew this tomato to how a handle bone-in short rib.
And while I watch cooking programs, I still mainly watch the PBS programs - America's Test Kitchen, Mexico - One Plate at a Time, and Avec Eric are among my favorites.
I was recently introduced to this YouTube cooking program, which reminds me of the shows I watched as a kid on PBS. It's simple, straight-forward, and focuses on showing a home cook how to prepare something special.
Plus, the dog is hilarious.
[where: Sustainable Food, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]