I love walking into the kitchen after work on CSA Basket Tuesdays and finding this:
I unloaded the basket, washed the lettuce and chard, and put everything away. Except the broccoli. Neither of us eat it -- Brett has never liked it and I ate way too much of it in my previous marriage. The chickens will have at it in the morning.
Somebody asked how I learned to cook. I grew up with a mother who loved to cook and a father with an adventurous palate. As a child, I would eat anything my dad did -- with the exception of head cheese. I never could get into that -- or the pickled chicken feet my Hungarian grandmother made.
When I married for the first time, I suddenly had a husband to cook for. I didn't have a clue. I had a basic cookbook and made a lot of long distance calls to my mother asking for help. My son calls me from college now and asks the same kinds of questions I did. It makes me smile. In the two short years of that marriage I learned to cook basic things and found that I enjoyed trying new recipes (in my simple cookbook).
The next number of years, while I was single, I didn't cook fancy at all. I'd fry a pork chop for dinner and that was it. I did try cooking crab one night for Brett for dinner. I was trying SO HARD to impress him. I bought the crab about a week in advance, not knowing that you have to cook it within a day of purchase. He came over to dinner and I pulled the crab out of the refrigerator to cook -- and it smelled strongly of ammonia. Fortunately, I had bought some French bread so that was my impressive dinner. A loaf of bread. He still teases me about it.
Then I married again (not Brett, I tease him about that still) and had children. I cooked dinner every night and was compulsive about using quality ingredients for the kids' food. My husband was not at all adventurous. He liked spaghetti, chicken, salmon and broccoli. So, that is pretty much all I ever cooked. For eight years. To this day I can't stomach salmon or broccoli.
I finally married the right guy, Brett, almost eleven years ago. When we first married, he wasn't well versed in food beyond basic but he was a great guinea pig. He would eat anything I tried to cook. Even the failures. He learned to eat artichokes, eggplant, tomatoes, foie gras, duck... and much more. He encouraged me, he complimented me, he created a culinary monster. I subscribed to Bon Appetit and started collecting cookbooks. I shopped in two stores: the tack store and the kitchen store (Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table).
I used to follow recipes to the letter and never deviated from them. Now, I am comfortable with throwing things together myself and I use recipes for ideas more than strict guidelines. I love the challenge of the CSA basket because I never know exactly what I'm going to get. It forces me to be creative and use vegetables I might not buy otherwise. It supports the local organic farm and, of course, all the produce is super fresh and tasty.