Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why do YOU cook, Vanessa Barrington?

Vanessa Barrington
There are lots of books out right now about canning and preserving and making all kinds of things from scratch. So how is D.I.Y. Delicious. different? It's written by Vanessa Barrington, a talented cook and writer, who figured out how to make stuff on her own, in a real home kitchen. It's filled with recipes for everyday things you will get excited to make yourself when you see how easy most of the recipes are. Soon you'll be making mustard, yogurt, pickles, horchata, crackers and more.

The book also features recipes for using many of the things you'll learn to make. So after you learn to make Creme Fraiche (pg. 116) you can make Artichoke Soup with Creme Fraiche (pg.119). It also includes lots of cool ideas you probably haven't considered before like Savory Porridge with an egg and cheddar cheese or Pulled Pork Canapes with fig rosemary jam.

Vanessa Barrington is creative, socially conscious and just plain fun. She's a talented writer, recipe developer, and coincidentally a terrific conference roommate. So, why does she cook?

"The simplest answer is that I don’t know how NOT to. I feel more like myself in the kitchen than I do anywhere else. Sometimes it’s the only thing that makes any sense to me, especially during times of emotional upheaval, national strife, (elections/terrorist attacks/the televised aftermath of hurricanes) or on ordinary bad days. Even on a good day spent in front of my computer answering emails and writing all day, nothing feels so good as pulling out a cutting board and knife, and beginning the soothing work of chopping.

It wasn’t always like that. In fact, there have been periods in my life when I didn’t really like food. As a kid, I was a picky eater. I’d sit at the dinner table for hours, after everyone else went out to play, rather than eat the gray, overcooked pork chop and the canned peas on my plate.

When I started working in the restaurant business in my 20s, a whole new world opened up to me and I realized that I wasn’t really picky, just discerning. I started out by trying to recreate the dishes I served to customers. I had no idea of technique, but usually the results were somewhat ok. I was good at figuring things out. Eventually I taught myself how to cook.

These days, I’m not so much into restaurant food. Of course I go out and I do enjoy it. Occasionally I even have a meal that bowls me over. But what I like best is just poking around in the refrigerator, the garden, and the farmers’ market, figuring out what I want to eat, and then perhaps calling a friend to share it with me. I cook because I really like my own cooking and feel healthiest when I cook for myself. At the end of even the most delicious vacations, I can’t wait to get home and cook something simple to eat."