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Cook Next Door

July 7, 2005

I was tagged by Linda for a Cook Next Door meme. So you all get to read more about me!

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
I remember being about 10 or 11 and making a cherry crisp with my friend Sheri. Her mom had taken us to this cool cooking class that was put on by the electric cooperative extension agency, and we learned to make cherry crisp. It was basically a can of cherry filling topped with crispy goodness. It was so sweet, but we loved it, and we were so proud of it! I think we made it for both of our parents on different occasions.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
Wow. I had to think about this really hard, and couldn’t really come up with an answer. I’d have to say it was the great television cooking show. Back before Food Network, I would watch Great Chefs, Great Cities in between college classes, and I learned a lot from those guys. I was probably most loyal to Jacques Pepin and Rick Bayless, and I feel like I kind of knew how to cook before I had even started cooking, which really didn’t happen until I got my first apartment halfway through college. Of course I watched my mom cook, but for some reason I didn’t pick up any of her recipes or skills—my tortillas are never round, I have no idea how to make Spanish rice, and my mashed potatoes are never quite as yummy as hers.

Do you have an old photo as “evidence” of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
You know, I don’t have any photos of myself, other than recent ones taken by Justin. How sad! I may have to confiscate some when I go visit my parents next weekend.

Mageiricophobia – do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Well, I’ve always hated cooking meat. It’s so slimy and visceral. Ew! I haven’t cooked it in a couple of years now, and not long ago I tried cooking a filet of salmon and got so grossed out that I couldn’t eat it. And the whole apartment smelled. Like flesh. Ew!

But as for one dish that I avoid making, it would have to be flan. I’ve tried it several times—it’s such a simple dish! But it has never turned out good. Always too eggy, overcooked, or just weird. Which is too bad, because I love flan. Actually, this seems like a bit of a challenge now…I may have to try it again soon.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
These are pictured above. From left to right:

Most valued:
Henckels Five Star chef’s knife. Couldn’t live without it.
Mexican lime/lemon juicer. I can’t imagine juicing any other way.
Side Cut can opener. Got this at some outlet store, and it’s been the best can opener I’ve owned.
Mom’s rolling pin. I’m sooooo lucky to have this. It’s perfect for rolling out whatever in the world you’d need to roll out.
Oxo vegetable peeler. This works like a dream. Though I have been coveting an Oxo U-shaped peeler for a while now.
Pampered Chef pizza wheel. Cuts though pizza easily, easy to clean, and has a handy storage sleeve.

Biggest letdowns:
Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal. I rarely use it, and when I do, I’m always a little bummed at the non-perfection of the seal.
Pampered Chef Garlic Press. I used to use this a lot, but it was a pain to clean, and I didn’t like the texture of the garlic I ended up with. Now I just hand-mince my garlic and ginger, and I love it. I actually enjoy doing it. I love the sound, I love the smell and stickiness that’s left on my fingers, I love the texture.
Food thermometer. Being a dietitian, food safety is drilled into your head. I guess this thermometer was used more when I made meat dishes, but honestly I didn’t even remember it was in the drawer until I rummaged through it today.

Why do I still own these things again? Sheesh.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like – and probably no one else!
I love to dip saltines in a can of plain tomato sauce. I also like to smear tub margarine on saltines, then top them with salsa. I like to dip things in other things…toasted, buttered baguette dipped in hot chocolate, any kind of bread or cracker dipped in any kind of soup. I like to eat a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. I love pickle juice sno-cones. And bananas drizzled with chocolate syrup. But none of this seems very weird. I guess I’m pretty mainstream.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don’t want to live without?
Chocolate, cheese, and pasta.

Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!
Nope.

Three quickies:
Your favorite ice-cream…

Chocolate, of course. Preferably dark chocolate with Kit Kats crushed in from Amy’s, or dark chocolate gelato from Dolce Vita.

You will probably never eat…
Pig’s feet, brains, non-traditional food animals like dogs, horses, etc. It would be difficult if I were visiting a different country, though, because I’d like to try the local specialty. But ew.

Your own signature dish…
I think maybe the only things I’m known for are my pizza crust, my chocolate chip cookies, my peanut-chocolate cookies (at the B&B), and my black beans. Nothing fancy, though.

So that’s it! Me and my kitchen, in a nutshell.

Let’s see, I’d like to pass it on to Michelle and Becky.

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5 Discussion to this post
  1. Amy says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Crystal and guess what? I’m tagging you for another meme–this one on childhood memories.

    http://www.beautyjoyfood.com/?p=30

  2. farmgirl says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Just linked to you through Beauty Joy Food (she tagged me for the childhood memory meme, too). Love your site. Can’t wait to read more. Your “signature dishes” are some of my very favorite foods. Just have to tell you though–sorry, but pickle juice sno cones DO sound weird! 🙂

  3. becky says:

    I’m so jealous that you can make good pizza crust! Mine sucks. Thanks for tagging me. I look forward to posting soon when I can spend a little time on it. Ditto on the pickle juice sno cones. That’s just crazy!

  4. Lora says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I’ll have to check into getting a mexican juicer. I really could use one. I’ve know I’ve seen them around, but it never even dawned on me to pick one up.
    I know what you mean about garlic presses, but I’m not ready to give mine up yet, I check out each new style of cleanability factor.

  5. crystal says:

    Thanks everyone! Amy, thanks for the tag, and I’ll post my answers soon. farmgirl and becky, I’m actually a little glad that at least one of my foods was weird…and Lora, I found my juicer, the real metal kind, at Fiesta on I-35, and it was super cheap, probably like $2. There are prettier ones out there, I’m sure, but anyway.

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