I worked in the industry for over 25 years before retiring and moving into medicine. While I did go to culinary school after having cooked over a decade, my real training was in the kitchens of Northern California. I apprenticed under several master chefs from Italy, France, Vietnam, and Mexico, making my specializations very diverse and open-minded. I adore keeping things simple and enjoy my 1000 sf organic garden, harvesting and preserving good healthy foods year round. I keep the concept of eating from food sources close to home as well as can be done, and live in the agricultural basket of New Hampshire: Hollis.
My favorite things to cook
I admit that I am a lazy chef, preferring to spend time outside and with my family rather than in the kitchen, so my recipes usually appeal to those who have less time! Pasta from scratch and any accompanying sauces that happen to utilize what's being harvested at the time are my favorite things. However, due to the growing season and plentiful harvests, sometimes our table is complete with just melon, corn, salads, and fresh tomatoes! My children eat fresh produce right out of the garden, so tempting them with cooked foods in summer is nearly impossible. We harvest shellfish from the sands in the Cape, purchase lobsters from the huts along Maine, gather eggs from our neighbor's coops, and pick wild berries in the neighboring farm lands. When the days grow shorter, warm soups and stews are my favorite things to prepare. However, even in winter, salads grace our table several times a week so we can stay lean for winter hiking in our nearby Beaver Brook Conservation Area.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I remember holiday baking as my favorite activity, but will admit that it is very daunting to find the time to do that today, so I keep a handful of classics and make them only then. Linzertorte cookies and rugulach are among the family favorites.
Our garden keeps us all occupied during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, so we have a rich tradition of sharing the load whereby the kids and husband harvest while I slave away canning in the kitchen every harvest season. We adore having homemade marinara, jams, and salsas throughout the year.
My cooking triumphs
Every time a chef applies for a job, they endure a "hotel test" which usually involves a speed rack filled with trays of produce, meats, and dairy products, a section of the kitchen prep table, a few hours to prepare three to six courses, and a table of 4 to 6 of your toughest critics: a food and beverage manager, catering directors, the general manager, and several other higher ups who must dine on your meal and decide whether or not to hire you. The truth is that there is little in my career as stressful as this, and I have always been offered the job after every hotel test I ever took. However, that being said, my greatest triumph was salvaging a bain marie of a buerre blanc for 300 on the fly after an incompetent prep cook curdled it 15 minutes before plating service for a wedding party. He didn't last long, but I was the hero of the day....
My cooking tragedies
I famously burn croutons, bacon, cookies, and any other, "Oh, yeah! I had that _____ in the oven! Whoops!" Nobody bears the shame of having a handy timer in the kitchen more than this chef!