The Evolution of My Chef-Like Self

The year: 2001. The place: my first apartment. The occasion: my first “dinner party.”

The telephone conversation went something like this:
Dad: “Hello?”
Abby: “Hi Daddy! Whatcha doin?”
Dad: “Oh, just sitting here watching the game. State’s down by 8. What’s my little girl doing today?”
Abby: “Well, I’m having some people over to see the apartment, and I’m going to fix them dinner.”
Dad: Silence.
Abby: “What? I can totally do it.”
Dad: Silence.
Abby: “Dad, c’mon. I’m a smart kid. I can do it. I just need your help.”
Dad: “I don’t think I can be there before your guests arrive.”
Abby: “I don’t want to you to come cook! I want you to answer some basic cooking questions for me.”
Dad: “Ok, shoot.”
Abby: “Ok. So, I’m making spaghetti. My first question is, how do I cook the noodles?”
I’m hoping that this conversation will illustrate to you, dear reader, just how inadequate I was in the kitchen. I could slap together a PBJ with the best of them. And I made a mean Pop-Tart. But other than that—no knowledge at ALL.
That first pot of spaghetti was probably horrible. I honestly don’t remember. I was so proud of my accomplishment, of having my first dinner party, that it could’ve tasted horrible and I just wouldn’t remember.
Fast forward a few months, when I started dating my husband. Now here was a man who was self-sufficient. Earlier in our friendship, when we were all still living in the dormitories at Appalachian State University, B had made an entire lasagna dinner for his friends. Lasagna–from scratch. Big tossed salad with fresh veggies. Garlic bread that was to-die-for. Shortly after we began courting, B started teaching me a thing or two in the kitchen. Methods of cooking, a few fail proof recipes, how to grill a steak. It was like a light switch went off in my head.
By the time we moved into together, my curiosity about cooking increased. We now had the Food Network, and I would watch Emeril, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Bobby Flay for HOURS. I started buying cook books, and experimenting in the kitchen.
By the time we moved to Charleston, I had most of the basics down. I could follow a recipe easily enough, and most of the time, they would turn out how I expected. Certainly, there were mishaps (please don’t ever ask about the peach pie incident, unless you want to make me cry), but I felt that I was making progress.
I got my first real chef’s knife as a wedding gift in 2004. After that, the sky was the limit.
I can saute, grill, pan-sear and roast with the best of them. I can see a recipe that sounds sort of interesting and make it my own. I can wow the taste buds of my husband, my family, and my friends. I can bake cupcakes, birthday cakes, and the best damn Christmas cookies you ever put in your face.
Abby–Official Foodie and Apron-Wearer
And I honestly, truly love it.
I spend every Sunday with my Mom and Dad. And it’s my favorite day of the week. Dad and I start planning dinner while we’re still eating breakfast. We shop together, carefully choosing the perfect ingredients, squeezing tomatoes and smelling basil and buying only the choicest fish. We chop together, season together, inhale the wonderful aromas together, taste sauces together. And revel in our success when the dish makes my Mom say, “Yum.”
And I owe it all to my hubby, and my teachers at the Food Network. Because truly, I learned everything from knife skills to cooking techniques from that channel. It was like culinary school, from the comfort of my own home.
Thanks to the best teachers, ever.
My next step in taking over the world of food—growing my own garden. And making gazpacho from my own veggies. Move over, Barefoot Contessa, Abby’s moving in.

One thought on “The Evolution of My Chef-Like Self

  1. 3masonsmommy

    oh the peach pie! I felt so bad for you that night! But I promise any one who has ever baked a pie or anything for that matter has done the exact same thing! I love your cooking and only wish we lived closer to each other so we could cook and shop together!

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