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First food post

I'm in the process of migrating most of my public-facing commentary to this account.  That means there will be food posts.  This is a baseline post where I blab about myself for a while.

I'm a curious and experimental cook.  Maybe all cooks are; experimentation is a powerful learning tool.  Current interests include ataulfo mangoes, zwolsche krul cutting celery, rattlesnake pole beans, and preaching the gospel of the legume.

Back in college, many of my experiments were...well, money was tight, so I ate them anyway.  And for some time after that, I was sharing a home with someone whose culinary needs rarely extended past ground beef, cheese, white bread, and radishes.

But things changed.  Left to my own devices, I returned to experimentation.  Eventually - it took years - I got kind of good at it.  Partly it's having a good idea of what a particular combination of foods and spices will taste like; that comes with experience.  Partly it's better attention to technique:  treat the individual ingredients and layer the flavors and textures, rather that just throwing everything into a pot; that comes with practice.

I rarely use a recipe, as such.  When I get an idea, I'll read around and see what ingredients and techniques are usually involved.  And then I'll modify.

I cook for myself, a meal plus leftovers at least a couple of times a week.  There's work, but it's a treat for me:  I get exactly what I want - I'm not restricted to what's on some menu - and I control the quality and hygiene.  Eating out is something I do for convenience, not because I prefer the food.

And a couple of times a month, give or take, I cook for friends.  This gives me a chance to really exercise the culinary muscles:   prepare a coordinated menu on time constraints, that will appeal to the assembled masses.  The key is to prepare mostly well-known recipes and then add in Some nights still have their share of fail, but I'm to the point of mostly pretty good, and occasionally very good - at least if my friends' commentary can be trusted.

Last night's meal was one of the good ones.  A bit surprising, considering how much trouble I had getting home on time, and how vague my idea was.  The day before, I'd wandered the grocery story looking for inspiration, and landed on "Caribbean" chicken.  After listing the ingredients for friends, we decided "random **** chicken" was a more appropriate name.  Onion, mustard seed, bell peppers, chile peppers, spices.  The chicken cooked in a separate pan, with allspice, turmeric, and a bunch of other stuff.  Combine everything, then add juice from a lime, a tangelo, and half a lemon.  More spices.  

Baked potato on the side (Purple Viking potatoes from the garden).  I'd intended to make green beans too, but I was running late and we had tons of food (K. had brought dip and dessert).  It was lighter on veg than I usually aim for - and no legumes! - but that's okay.  

I'm still learning, of course.  That's the nice thing about learning:  you never run out of new things to learn.

I'd like to try my hand at a cookbook.  The world does not need Yet Another Cookbook, so it would need to bring something new to the table (so to speak).  It requires getting better at documenting my experiments; re-creating last night's chicken could take some work. 

If anyone's reading this and wishes to comment:  what are your favorite interesting ingredients?  I'm always curious to hear about new things to try.
Friending welcome, but lurking is fine too.

Constructive criticism is also welcome - whatever it is, trust me, I've heard worse.



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