I have always dreamed of becoming a writer. Writing is a way to communicate love, passion, commitment, as well as relay important facts, histories, and relevant events. I guess writing sort of feeds the “beatnik” in me too. I think all guys go through a phase or at least a mental dreamlike state where they see themselves growing out there hair, wearing old sweaters, smoking pipes, and writing in a coffee shop in some urban center. Renaissance men who like to innovate, pontificate, and procreate. Historically, coffee shops started with guys “waxing eloquent” about the latest news, gossip, and politics, debating the issues of life, all the while intoxicated with the brown bean. Part whimsical, part biographical, I am taking on a challenge. I want to share, teach, and hopefully inspire. I feel that every good boy should know how to cook.
I have always maintained that cooking doesn’t have to be relegated to the fairer sex, but that as men, even non professional chefs, we can cook with a style, passion and love that keeps our women and friends happy, and wanting more.
Does good food really need to cost a lot of money? In order to eat well, do we really need to double or even triple our budget? Why does good food, or better yet, fine food, need to be relegated to holidays or special events when “company” is coming? Growing up, my dad worked for the local newspaper and every Christmas he was given a choice of meat for his “Christmas bonus.” He could choose steak, prime rib, some sort of roast, fish, and I think a couple other options. Since my family didn’t have a whole lot of money, I remember my sister and I always looking forward to that Christmas eve dinner when that prime rib was being served. It was like heaven invaded earth and all I had come to believe about why we celebrated Christmas was truer. I know that I am not the only American to have had an experience like that. Towns, cities, and states all across this great nation are filled with stories of mom’s famous tater-to casserole, grandma’s bean dish, and Aunt Bubba’s famous cookies, or cinnamon rolls.
TV has exploded with an interest in food. The Today show has been featuring professional chefs for years and there is now a network devoted to all things food. Even the big networks have been featuring shows that feature food, cooking and chef competitions. There was recently an article on MSN that compared the Food Network to this generation’s version of MTV. Are you serious? Is good food really that cool again? When I watch some of these shows, especially the ones that feature local haunts, diners, mom and pop restaurants, etc. whenever food tasted good at the local diner, they compared it to food “my mom used to make” or just like my “grandma would make for Thanksgiving,” or whatever. Am I the only one to notice what was missing? Was I the only one that caught on that supposedly all good food, outside of the 4-5 star restaurants was made by moms and grandmother’s? Where are the dads? Where are the guys? The dudes? Are we really just known for the occasional grilled hamburger and hot dogs? Or, if we have really moved up in the food chain…an occasional steak or chicken breast with an “off the shelf” marinade? Why don’t we hear stories and anecdotes on the food shows that “this meatloaf was just like my dad used to make” or “this pasta dish reminds me of the summers I used to visit my grandfather” or how about “these are just like my uncle’s chocolate chip cookies?”
Gentlemen that is why I am here. I am writing this for all of you guys who probably won’t be the executive chef at a 5 start restaurant in New York City, or even run your own catering business. You know who you are, the guys who describe themselves as “cookers” or “grillers” or something with a not-very-good-English title. You like fresh herbs, quality ingredients, and wowing your friends, family, and the ladies. If you are a young buck who knows you like to cook, and probably got most of your culinary lessons up until this point from your mom, I am here to give you the basic skills and knowledge to impress those around you with your ability to keep them asking for more. You will have been exposed to some of the most popular, guy-centric recipes around. Next family function? They will be asking you to bring something. That’s right… you won’t be able to ride the coattails of your mom for the potluck anymore (you know who you are). After the stunning performance you will have put on for some of your friends at simple dinners throughout your community, your skills will begin to be whispered throughout your extended sphere. Trust me. From pasta to grilled salmon, the perfect chopped salad to the best peanut butter cookies, you will become the beginning of your own legend.
So, this book is for the boys. Good Boys. The one’s who don’t want to take their new girlfriend out to a restaurant, but wants to be more romantic, more chivalrous, and frankly more like a poet. This book is also for the husbands and dads out there who have been feeling guilty that their wives continue to do the cooking. You want to help but aren’t really sure how. This will help you become the man she had always wanted (at least in this area) and will make you look like a super hero to your kids. Lastly, this series of posts is to the fella who simply likes to eat well. Maybe a bachelor, a widower, or just a young single guy who appreciates good food and is convinced that you don’t have to spend a minor fortune in eating out, but that with a little coaching, can eat well, simply, and healthy in your own home.
Who am I? No, I don’t have professional culinary cooking, nor have I been a chef in any restaurant. No, the closest I came to cooking professionally was as a server in two mid-level restaurants and as a barista at the homogenized coffee giant that has stores within stores. No, I am simply a father who loves to cook. I have come to appreciate good quality ingredients, and believe, like the movie stated “good food comes to those who like to cook.” I am pure and simply an amateur chef at best, who loves great food. The culture, the “why” and “where” behind ingredients, and try to support my region of the United States by buying and growing things close to my home. So, this cookbook is coming from a dad who wants other dad’s to fee comfortable in the kitchen, to young men out to prove to the ladies that he isn’t “shallow” and to the man who has the artistic ability of a 1st grader, but likes to create and invent anyway. This book is from one such guy to the host of others out there, that given a little guidance, can become a great “cooker” in at least someone’s eyes.