Growing up in a family with five kids, in a suburb just outside of Detroit, with a dad who worked full-time and a mom who worked part-time, food was more of a necessity than something we put a lot of thought into. Heck, it wasn’t until I married Casey that I realized corn wasn’t a vegetable. We were a meat-and-potatoes kind of people. The only spices in our house were salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and Lawry’s seasoned salt.
With more than 20 years of cooking with Casey, I’ve learned quite a bit. I now know that corn is a grain, for one thing. I have experienced foods and broadened my palate beyond anything I imagined while growing up.
I catered our wedding, making a feast for 85 people that included turkey legs, Scotch eggs, bashed neeps and our two wedding cakes. I’ve grilled lobster and smoked kingfish while living in Key West. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I barbequed a 35-pound turkey for Casey’s 40th birthday, while smoking three ducks, two chickens, three pork shoulders, and three small beef steaks, all while I simmered an elk roast in the Crock pot and baked a stuffed pumpkin in the stove. I’ve taken chickens from the coop to the table. Now, in Alaska, I’m grilling salmon and frying halibut.
Together, we’ve foraged for wild apples, cherries and berries, and made applesauce, jellies and jams. I’ve grown and processed my own garlic. I’ve made some excellent chocolate oatmeal stout beer. I’ve taught myself to butcher meat and made my own bacon, corned beef, Canadian bacon, and lamb pastrami. I’ve churned my own butter and make yogurt in a contraption I built myself. Casey and I learned together how to make-do when times were tough. I’ve come a long way, baby.
Although I don’t share a cookbook addiction to the extent Casey does, I still enjoy finding a book, checking it out, finding out how a recipe works, why it works and why it tastes the way it does. This is why I so enjoy reading our cookbooks by Alton Brown and watching his shows when I get the chance.
I am more the Maker in the family.
facio ergo sum
I make therefore I am.
GastroNOMNOMicon is a place for me to share what I make, how it works, how it tastes and how it fits into the wider world.
I have always loved to eat, but knowing how to cook came along a lot later in life. Despite my great-grandmother and grandmother being good cooks, I didn’t pick up the skill until I was out on my own and cooking by necessity. I learned by trial and error — mostly errors, some inedibly so. As I bumbled along, I found assistance through cookbooks and started to collect them.
My collecting didn’t slow, but actually burgeoned, when I started cooking with Jim. Our interest in history brought us to historical cookbooks, and our interest in travel fostered a new love of regional and international cuisine, and all of those attendant cookbooks. We also got into the idea of self-sufficiency, at least as much as we could manage while sturdily tied to the modern world and our work, so we collected books to learn about that as well, applying what we could to our lives. I studied technical communication, recipes, instruction sets and local foodways, wrapping it all into a PhD dissertation on the subjects but, to do that, I needed more cookbooks.
Yeah, we have A LOT of cookbooks now.
We have so many, they are split across three houses and my office.
We also have plenty of books for just reading, and Lovecraft is a favorite author of ours. We’re both gaming geeks from way back, having met in a game store. That’s the inspiration behind the name of our blog, and Jim’s adorable Chef Cthulhu.
We started GastroNOMNOMicon to help us use some of the amazing recipes we already have in-house and to discover new ones. We want to share our love of food and cooking and cookbooks and Alaska, and let people know that it is okay to have hundreds of cookbooks and not use them.
But is even more fun to use them and explore your own worlds through them.