Food = Love

Isn’t it the truth?

We eat because we want to feel love, give love, be loved.  
We started this blog because we want to share our food love with others, and talk about some of the ways love and food mix for us.  We think these stories and recipes and adventures, while drawn from our lives, will touch on the enjoyment and love other people experience with food.   Let’s face it:  food is a primary relationship.
Here’s a little bit about our food backgrounds and how we got here:
N:  My name is Nancy and I’m the younger sister who is a novice in the world of food. For a while I felt as if I was in the category of a really great home cook until I started learning more about food. And honestly the more I learn, the more I realize I am merely a novice cook. But I have passion damn it and I hope someday to be able to call my cooking “AMAZING.”
I have always had a love affair with food. I think it stems from both my Italian father’s appreciation for food as well as my lack of really good or even enough food as a child. I grew up with my mom after my parent’s got divorced and her meager earnings from Montgomery Ward were not always enough to even provide a trip to the grocery store each week. I remember counting the days until we went to the store. She would always let me get a Snicker’s candy bar. To this day I still love going to the store to buy food for the week. It’s a highlight of my week, I won’t lie.
As I grew up, my dad always had me help in the kitchen. He remarried and my two step brothers would get the labor chores like picking weeds while I was made to help in the kitchen. But it wasn’t a chore to me! I truly loved cooking. It was something magical to me. I remember taking any ingredient I could find when I was really little and pouring them all in a big bowl or pot and hiding behind a chair in my living room, reveling at my creation. And so through the years, I put meat through the meat grinder with my dad and helped make meat sauces or marinara sauces. It’s one good memory I have of him;  he planted the seed that is my love for food.

By the time I was in my early twenties my food love grew to new heights thanks to my sister. My food guru. Although I don’t think she realizes that. While my father gave me my love for food, she taught me what it is to eat really fucking good food. I would visit her in Boulder,CO and she would make me these amazing dishes like eggs benedict (this seemed so gourmet to a girl from Colorado Springs,CO!), lemon ricotta pancakes with raspberry sauce, roast goose for Christmas and salmon mousse. Throughout my twenties, she and I would go to restaurants in Boulder,CO and have amazing meals. Most of the great cooking tips I have are from my sister. Without knowing it, she challenges me to be a better cook each day.

I’m not writing this blog from the “food snob” perspective. I am no food snob.  Hell, I ate Kraft cheese slice grilled cheese sandwhiches and Rice-A-Roni when I was pregnant! Okay so I can’t endorse fast food or most chain restaurants because they’re all mostly just crap. So maybe there is a bit of snob in me, but not much…I will be writing this blog as a person who simply loves good, fresh food.

K:  I’m Karen, the older, been there-done that sister.  It’s strange to hear Nancy say “food guru,” as she doesn’t really listen to most of my advice, always resisted my big-sister advances.  One reason we thought this blog might be interesting is because although we come from the same parents, we have two really different experiences of growing up and of food.  Since I’m 12 years older, I was out of the house by the time Nancy started school.  Unlike her, I grew to my teenage years with both parents in the same house, a kind of mixed blessing.  But like her, I got my food passion from my father, who kept me in the kitchen while my brothers were outside doing “boy chores.”   I followed my dad around while he made his version of bolognese, seasoning “picci-pacci” (bastardized Italian for “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”) and learned to trust my instincts with flavors and ingredients. 

So dad got me interested in food, but as I got older, I realized his generation knew nothing about fresh ingredients and really tasting food.  Everything we ate when I was young came out of a can or box.  Fresh vegetables were ice berg lettuce, green pepper, radish and tomato salad (drowned in bottled dressing) or the errant corn on the cob from the summers my family did the groovy 70s thing and had a garden.  Once I left home and started shopping for myself, I started to learn more about food (“Oh my god, butter lettuce!) and the whole world opened wide.  Plus, there was a food revolution going on and increasingly better and a wider variety of produce was wending its way to super markets. At first, I made pies and ravioli for money on the side when I was in college, and later I started catering on my own.  I read cookbooks like The Silver Palate (the best Salmon Mousse recipe) and taught myself how to make things like garlic mashed potatoes and roast chicken with thyme and then, chocolate mousse and a raspberry profiterole ring. 

What really gave me my food chops though was a stint in my early thirties at The Peppercorn, a one of a kind gourmet retail store in Boulder. I started out selling coffee and coffee makers and then worked my way to cookware before finally ending up as the cookbook buyer.  That’s when my education took off.  The cookbook selection at The Peppercorn is legendary, and the largest in the United States.  And it is not on database.  My job was to know every book so I could recommend just the right one to everyone from beginners who had a hard time frying an egg to the chef who came in looking for a recipe for worcester sauce.  It was a great job while it lasted:  I read books like Jacque Pepin’s La Technique and studied recipes and talked about food all day long.  I learned almost as much as if I’d enrolled in cooking school from coworkers (who also shared food love), Boulder chefs and amateur cooks, and the people who hung out at the store wanting to talk about food and cookng gear.  I had over 300 cookbooks at home in my private collection and from them I learned technique, flavors, combinations and how to put together food.  At some point though, I realilzed I wasn’t really a lifetime retail person and I went back to grad school to get my PhD in creative writing and literature (so clearly I’m still a dreamer when it comes to career choices).

Now I cook professionally on the side: I cater, make wedding cakes, and cook in a dirty little mountain cafe when I’m not teaching literature and writing at a college nearby. 
Together, Nancy and I have conceived One Hot Kitchen to be about our food love, which we think is pretty universal.  Each week, one of us will post and the other will have a chance to respond.  Once a month, we’ll pick a topic for Food Duel, a place where we chop up something culinary from our distinct points of view.

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