|How Chop Onions, Boil Water came to be|
The Reward of Home Cooking
I love food. Supremely, I love eating it, but as I am likely to obsess upon the things I love, my healthiest approach to food is by cooking a lot of it and eating only some of it. This tends to benefit my family and friends as you can imagine. Luckily, I have some good friends who also tend to feel the same way. It makes for some great parties and shared dishes, but it also means a lot of time jogging at lunch or on my treadmill at night.
That's what can get you hooked on home cooking, the sharing and giving of it. I've always fiddled around in the kitchen. I started as a child and I can remember the first thing I ever cooked (a fried bologna sandwich), but I got really hooked when I met my wife and she started to appreciate the quality and health benefits of home cooking. Along came my children, and well, what's a dad who cooks supposed to do? I want my children to eat nutritious food and I want them to experience a wide cultural range of it. Sure, school will broaden their general knowledge, but I don't remember school lunches broadening my food experiences. Let me know if you do.
World Food at Home
While I do not consider myself a "world traveler", I have traveled my fair share. One of the things I most enjoy about visiting foreign places is the food. New sites, smells, tastes, ingredients and experiences!
It may be cliché to say, but that makes it no less true: All people can find common ground in food. I've always noticed that people in other countries are always keen to have you try the local food. People universally exhibit a sincere generosity with food. It is some natural law, something written in the tightest wrappings of our DNA. Feed your guests. I like that. I do that. So do you.
When traveling, each time I experience something I enjoy, my thoughts quickly turn towards a method of possibly preparing it at home. Sometimes, it is just a matter of preparing familiar ingredients in new combinations or in new ways. Other times it means me visiting a foreign grocer and stocking up on supplies of hard or impossible-to-get ingredients. Though the internet sure has eased that effort a bit!
I take what I taste and enjoy eating out in the world and I bring it home to my kitchen. It can be easy or it can be hard, but it is always rewarding.
Chop Onions, Boil Water
Anyone who cooks a lot is going to accumulate recipes. It's probably one of the reasons you ended up on this "About" page. You were probably looking for a recipe, right?
Over the years I have collected more than my share of recipes and cookbooks. For me, cooking most often tends to be a tinkering process. I'll have a dish in mind and the research begins, scouring recipes and cookbooks and then the refinement. I seldom find something that I don't want to change, (though Giada's Roast Pork Loin with Fig Sauce comes to mind as a "perfect" recipe).
Inevitably I end up with file folders stuffed with recipes from a variety of sources, all of them overwritten with notes or highlighted here and there. Eventually, these may turn into personal recipes. It's a process I call "chasing" because I'm often chasing some elusive quality, flavor, notion or important unknown. Some recipes I chase for years because I cannot produce them at home to my expectations. One of these is Phad Thai, I'm still chasing Phad Thai.
At some point several years ago, I began cleaning up my files and putting my finished recipes into an informal book. A year or so later, I was writing a recipe for the book and realized I had a story associated with it. Then I realized I had a lot of stories, and that was how my book "Chop Onions, Boil Water" was born. It was a book I produced for family and friends. The next edition is being readied for actual publication and I'm excited about that.
The title is a take off on the Zen koan/proverb/parable "Before Enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water." For me cooking is a zen experience. It quiets my mind. It relaxes me and I see the big wheels of the universe turning whenever someone is cooking for loved ones and friends. So, for me: Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment? Chop Onions, Boil Water.
The book is now the website, which will feed the book, which feeds the website. Zen, you see?
Life is too short to eat bad food. Chop onions, boil water!
So, from the four corners of the world and any place in between, I try to bring the foods of the world to my dinner table. Along the way, I've discovered that it's not difficult to prepare most authentic world cuisines at home. It just takes the right ingredients and some simple kitchen skills. Chop Onions, Boil Water is not only about recipes and techniques though. It's also about what gear works best for me and why, which ingredients are best, and what sources are good for information and supplies.
Thanks for visiting Chop Onions, Boil Water. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful and useful.
Home cooked food is the best food.