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Why I Cook

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From July, 2009

A lot of people ask me how I ended up as a cook. This is a fair question! My parents don’t own a restaurant, my grandparents didn’t own a restaurant, and I didn’t get into cooking until a little bit later in life than most people! The truth is: I come from a family that absolutely loves food. I am extremely lucky this way.

Let me give you an example: My father and sister just took a trip through the Boundary Waters. Traveling by foot and by canoe, they were miles away from civilization. This does not mean for one second that they didn’t eat like kings! One night, after 13 miles of exhausting travel, they decided that they wanted macaroni and cheese. Not from a box. They started with a roux (butter and flour, then later milk and cheese and seasonings). Then they realized that they forgotten to pack pasta! They did, however, have flour and eggs. Homemade pasta it would be! They had no kitchen and no counter space, so they had to come up with a surface that they could use to work with the pasta dough. My father decided to use the back of one of the paddles from the canoe. Of course, trekking through the Boundary Waters carrying everything on your back, it would be crazy to pack a rolling pin. So my dad decided to use the handle of the other oar to roll out beautifully thin strips of homemade pasta. Using basic cooking appliances designed to work on a campfire, my father and my sister enjoyed homemade pasta with a rich cheese sauce after a long day of trekking. The next day, my father woke up early and decided that the two of them were going to have coffee and caramel rolls. They had with them a simple campfire oven and a pan. Dad had flour, yeast, cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter and whipped up a batch of rolls dripping with a rich caramel sauce. Of course, I’m completely leaving out pizza night! No, they didn’t carry a package of pre-made store bought pizza crust. Everything, from the crust to the sauce, was made by my family and cooked over a campfire. Don’t get me started on the night that they decided to make chicken thighs and created a bed of hot coals out a few stones and a hot fire burned low! This was a simple camping trip through the Boundary Waters with my father. I come from a family that loves food, and I carry that love of great food, no matter what your surroundings are, with me throughout my life. With a few key ingredients and a bit of creativity, you can have great food every single day of your life.

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