Saturday, January 16, 2016

Howdy Folks

Wow, I see I haven't blogged since just before I opened my paper crafting supply shop! Well, I'm back and I'm changing my blog a bit....not only will it include my paper crafting adventures, I'm going to be adding some cooking and travel tidbits.

Yup, I'm back to cooking! I took a cooking hiatus for oh 10, 15 years. Why did I give up cooking? It's a bizarre story. I was in culinary school. I was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry program. It was a 4 year program and I would have graduated with a bachelor's degree in baking and pastry from one of the best culinary programs in the world. Getting in was quite an accomplishment. Think Harvard for cooking. I know several people who I was in culinary school with who were not accepted. I knew one other person who was accepted. And we were in one of the best culinary programs in the country at a community college.

Then it happened. My life kind of fell apart.....all because of some judges who were kind of harsh on our culinary team. I was on a culinary competition team with the American Culinary Federation. The ACF is who you test with to get those fancy titles and letters after your know Executive Chef and all that jazz.

Our team always had problems. Members would skip practice. Yup, we actually practiced cooking! Many people didn't take it seriously. I was uber serious about it. Then again, I started baking when I was 3 years old. Seriously. I would help my mother make bread and cookies at 3 years old. By the time I was 5, I was doing most of the work!

That competition at SUNY Delhi was a complete and utter disaster. We were the only team not to score. We didn't even get an honorable mention. We got certificates for participating. That's it. We were the only team that sucked that bad.

Part of team didn't even come to the hotel with us the night before. Those of us who showed up spent the night before trying to figure out what to do if those people didn't show. Nothing like coming up with a new plan for something you practiced for months.....we were up past 11pm trying to figure out what to do. It was so stressful.

Luckily, the next day the missing people did show up, but the damage was done. We did not work like a team at all that day. We were in a kitchen we had never used before. Using equipment we never used. Talk about a nightmare.

After making our food, the judges taste it. We don't see them. They are in a room somewhere on campus. After they taste our food and score us. They pay us a visit and drill us in front of all the teams. To say it was humiliating would be an understatement. I'm not a crier and I was on the verge of tears right then and there. After they ripped us a new one, they gave out the awards and honorable mentions....oh and the thanks for participating but you suck certificates. I ran out of the room and bawled. I was completely devastated.

After that day, I only cooked at school. I stopped cooking at home. I only cooked for the big holidays when we had friends and family over. If I could find the thing I wanted to serve at the grocery store, I bought it. Fresh. Frozen. I didn't care. I sucked at I felt because of what one man said to me. What did I know? I had only been cooking and baking for 20+ years. I was accepted in the most prestigious culinary program in the nation. But I sucked. My confidence went in the trash along with my chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.....yup 15 years later I remember my crappy dessert.

I never did go to the Culinary Institute of America which had been a dream of mine for years. My dreams were crushed....shattered all because of one man who didn't know me.....didn't know anything about me....couldn't find one positive thing to say.

I learned something that day. Words hurt. They can destroy a person. Here we are 15 years later and I'm finally starting to cook again. I am actually enjoying myself. I HATE the kitchen in my house. I love my house, but the kitchen was not made for someone who does serious cooking. We will be adding a new kitchen when we do a remodel in the next few years.

What got me back into cooking? One of my friends! She doesn't even know this. When she reads this, it will be the first time she hears what an impact she has made on someone.

My friend started a Facebook group about cooking more. She was trying to encourage her friends to cook at home more. Lots of us (waving hands here and jumping up and down like I'm 3 years old) eat out multiple times a week....some of us ate take out or in restaurants 6-7 nights a week....yeah that was me.

So I joined her Facebook group. I was like well maybe I'll be interested in something someone makes. I kind of ignored it for awhile. Then my husband was like we need to eat home more. He was sick of eating out. I don't think he had any idea how much we really spent eating out. He could probably come up with a rough guess if he really wanted to....I don't think he wanted to know how much money we were practically throwing away. He also didn't want to pressure me to cook.

So I caved and started thinking about things we could make at home. I'm not a big frozen dinner kind of person, but I bought some of those to make the husband happy....some prepared things from the deli at the grocery store.....that made him happy.

Just doing this I could see a difference in our finances.....over just 3 weeks we saved over $600!! Back to Facebook I go....looking through my friends group and the postings she and the others make.......ok so if I make a list, I can go grocery shopping like a regular person and make some food like a regular person instead of the freak I had become.

Now there's a paper pad and a pencil on our fridge. Every day is on the paper pad with a meal on it. And there's a list of meals I want to make in the future!

I'm actually cooking meals from scratch!! I plan our meals now. I've been doing this for a few months. It dawned me a few weeks ago. That I am actually enjoying cooking again!!! My confidence is still in the crapper about what I make, but it's getting better.

I've even made items people mention on that Facebook group. Brace yourself! I even asked about a couple different dishes - loaded baked potato soup, macaroni and cheese, and potatoes au gratin! Not simple things like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I have actually made the macaroni and cheese and the potatoes au gratin. I grabbed the wrong cheddar cheese from our fridge when I made the mac and cheese so it was just ok to me. Hubby LOVED it though. I don't eat's pretty rare that I do...I ate potatoes au gratin for 3 dinners!!! I still have to tackle the potato soup.....and I want to make tacos from scratch......I've also ventured out of my comfort zone and tried a Mexican restaurant this past summer. It's now one of my favorite local restaurants.

So to my dear friend E, thank you! You have helped me in ways you will never know!

1 comment:

mE said...

Awwwe, Shyra, this makes me happy to know you are starting back to loving cooking and new foods! I am happy to have been a little part of it. Keep on cooking and finding foods you love. Forget those old judges, because really... you only need to please yourself and your family when it comes to foods. :)