Back From The Dead

Ok, I’ll admit it, I fell off the blogging wagon. Apparently this is a common thing, like letting that diet or gym routine slip. But I have a couple good reasons. First, I have the kind of job that sometimes involves a lot of travel. Everyone thinks business travel is exciting, but frankly it’s exhausting and all-consuming. At the same time though, over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to have great culinary experiences in cities across the US, whether that be an “everything dog” and the latest gastropub in Chicago, Cuban food in Florida, or wandering the markets in San Francisco’s Chinatown (live bullfrogs, anyone?)

The first tomatoes of summer

The first tomatoes of summer

The second thing that happened is spring, and over the course of that season I’ve been establishing my urban garden, which I’m proud to say now has about two dozen containers of plants in the prime of their lives. I’ve rotated through greens, radishes, and broccoli, and now I’ve got tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, and summer squash in various stages of development. Strawberry season is drawing to a close and blueberries are in. As summer nears its apex, the hard part of gardening is over and I can kick back and literally enjoy the fruits of my labor.

So now that summer’s here and I’ve got a little more time, I’ve been dedicating myself back to my original mission, which is to educate myself more about cooking, one ingredient, technique, or piece of equipment at a time. The great experiences I’ve been having contribute to that goal, and I look forward to sharing my experiments with you.

What’s Building Flavor?

Building Flavor is what cooks do when they transform ordinary ingredients into something extraordinary.

When I first started learning about cooking almost ten years ago, I was excited by the almost infinite collection of recipes available in cookbooks and all over the internet.  I would confront them dutifully with measuring spoons in one hand and stopwatch in the other, following the instructions precisely.  And generally those dishes turned out pretty well.

One day, I went off script.  I gathered up some veggies I had in the fridge and decided to make soup.  Couldn’t be too hard, right?  I filled up a pot with water, chopped, cooked, and… disaster.  I ended up with a flavorless salad floating in salty water.  What went wrong?

That’s when I discovered there was much more to cooking than I’d thought.  The recipes generally told me what to do, but they didn’t tell me why I was doing it.  They didn’t tell me about the building blocks of flavor and how to put them together.  That knowledge is what makes a good cook, and it’s what I’ve been aspiring to ever since.

Building Flavor is about knowing your ingredients and their properties, practicing the techniques that can tranform them, and stocking your kitchen with the right equipment to make your life easier.   Come join me and build your own culinary skills as together we learn how to cook beyond the recipe!