When I began this project, I was still trying to answer the question, of what I am going to be when I grow up. A chef, sure. Writer, maybe. Teacher, definitely. But that question is like tuning in at the very end of a movie. What is missing is the story with all the character development and plot twists about how I got here. What is missing are the real stories that my children beg me to tell. The stories my friends make me pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine and begin. “Tell me about your lucky boots and where you wore them,” they ask. “Tell me about your childhood and the gay boy commune?” “Tell me how you became vegan and why for heaven’s sakes?” “Tell me how you got to Delaware, I mean really, here, of all places?” “Tell me how you became a chef?” Each story blends into another, and layer like flavors on your palette. Some of the stories are complex, and have so many levels that overlap; it really depends on how much I want you to learn about me. The stories weave in and out of my life, my bizarre childhood, my too many marriages, my children, my lovers, my addictions, my kitchens and then come back again full circle. There are stories I only know through my grandmother and I cannot include them because even though they are from my life, they are not from my memory. Sometimes I skirt on the edges of maybe not being entirely about food, but the outline is still there.
In the stories that you have yet to hear I will give you the recipes that I created myself, or the ones that I discovered along my journey. These are not all relentlessly vegan food posts where everyone sits around and sings ‘Kumbaya’ and talks about how happy and peaceful they are because they eat plant based foods. Those of you that do not know me expect a #foodislove hashtag to be all about a peaceful loving kitchen where I sit on a toadstool and chant a lot. Newsflash, it took me decades to get here and the journey along the way was filled with a lot of kicking and screaming and throwing knives. I still might throw a knife or two. Who knows? Teaching people to cook has all sorts of thrilling, edge of your seat, kind of moments.
This is not meant to be devoured in one sitting. It is a many layered feast about the journey to become a chef, a writer, a teacher and really a lot more than that. There are stops and starts and plenty of back tracks and repeats along the way. There is the fast food version, and then there is the feast.
Life always has a little of both.
we shall figure it out together.
So where should I begin, I ask my friends, as I pull up a chair.
Let’s cook, eat and talk.
Sometime down the road, with many meals consumed, glasses of wine sipped, and secrets shared, we will know we have truly become friends. And friends love each other through thick and thin rouxs, reductions of indeterminate origins and even kitchen nightmares.
This will be my year of focus on teaching you how to cook with conscious deliberation. Each month I will have a food focus (i.e. grains, greens, chocolate) and then through each month we will explore the techniques used to create my vegan culinary magic. Live cooking classes will take place on Facebook LIVE on Wednesday nights at 530 pm (for the most part) and you will get a blog post if that changes.
What you get is a one on one year with me, learning all the secrets of my kitchen. Starting at the end of February we will have a live call in question answer session once a week. If you sign up for the blog you will get invitations to join in for the Q&A as well as the weekly recipes, menus and shopping list. Of course stories too, lots and lots of stories. This is my year of reinventing my role in the kitchen. This is my year of new discoveries.
I hope it will be yours too.
January – Learning the basics of a ‘mise en place,’ caramelization, reduction, toasting, braising, Gretchen’s bag of tricks
Bag of Tricks
· Pantry and what is a Mise en Place
Ok so we got a little behind here and I need to catch up on the process. I didn’t have the dynamics down about how to interact and how to pass the knowledge on. I will spend the next month making this up. I never got to reduction and other parts were skipped. I will do better. I promise. I also will learn how to post to YouTube. Pinky swear.
February – Love yourself with a healthy heart month! Dark chocolate, red wine and other anti oxidants How to cook greens & why to love greens, label reading and understanding your palate. *Fill in with missed parts of last month.*
· Steam frying
March – ancient grains, beans, legumes, pulses, rice, and all the cooking methods and tricks you need to know
April – proteins (it’s a REALLY big subject!)
· Vegan cheeses
· Vegan Proteins
· Animal proteins
May – sweet stuff, natural sugars, nuts and seeds
June – the art of salsas and slurries, spices and their soulmates, culinary influences and fusions from around the world
Salsas, Slurries and Mops
· Cultural interpretations
· Flavor balance
· Creative interpretations
July – juicing, raw, superfoods, antioxidants
· Super greens
· Nuts and seeds
August – summer bounty, preservation techniques,
September – slow food and Mediterranean (will add in readers choice on what is missing so far)
October – wrap and roll month all different dumplings, sushi and anything you can make into a cigar shape and put in your mouth
November – root vegetables, winter squashes, curries, Asian fusion
December – Holiday foods and readers choice on rethinking our comfort foods
I hope you will remain patient with me while I learn this process of blogging. Turns out that it is harder than I thought.
Yeah, a little bit like that.
We will start our “Love Yourself February” month today, and every day hereafter, and we will finish when it is done.
One year older,