A Few of My Favorite Things


I just recently had a head shot done with a fabulous photographer who owns Fresh Look Photography.   One thing that is not my favorite is me in a photograph but she told me before I came, to think about some of my favorite things that represented me both personally and professionally.  It really made me think because as humans I think we just get used to what we do every day but really don’t think about what of those things that actually make us happy.  Happily I am here to tell you what they are!

My Wooden Spoon.

It’s not an old spoon, but for some reason it reminds me of one that is.  It’s a Williams Sonoma spoon I sort of got for free because of a gift card.  At first it didn’t do much for me but now it’s the perfect spoon.  I grab it every time I have to stir.  I love the feel of the wood and the smell of the seasoning and time that has gone into it.  

My Chef’s Knife.

Every real cook or chef has one.   It’s not always the same brand, or the same size or weight.  It’s always sharp.  I use it even when it’s not the right knife to use.  It’s big and makes me feel powerful in the kitchen when I’m ready to take on a vegetable or onion or something equally choppable.  (I know that’s not a real word, but I just made it one).   My knife is my shadow and best friends with my wooden spoon.  It’s like we’re all a team.

My Cooking Magazines.

I have several I love to read.  They come every month and I look through them, tear our recipes and if I don’t have time to do that they pile up waiting for me.  It’s like a vacation I look forward to.  My very favorite is Fine Cooking.  It only comes every other month, which at times makes it the longest two months ever.  It’s perfect for the new cook or the more experienced.  Always different ways to use the same ingredients, directions that are easy to follow, favorite products (of which I have ordered from time to time) and great photographs.  My go to.  My obsession.  My “I wish I could be a part of this magazine” magazine.  Love it, and you would too.

Food.

I love food.  I love eating it, cooking it, discovering it.  My waistline doesn’t love it so much but for me it’s pure joy.  It’s how people come together.  It can be creative, beautiful, comfortable and delicious all at the same time.  Most of all, I love finger foods.  Creating beautiful little minis of bigger things we all love.  One or two bites (my waistline is all in favor) and you can be satisfied, but your palate tingles because it knows there are many more options to try.  I mean if you don’t like food, you really can’t be my friend.  

Prosecco.

Yes!  I love wine, water and juices, but Prosecco and I have a relationship.  Almost like a significant other but better because it doesn’t talk back.  I love the refreshing sparkle of the bubbles and the crispness it has, like a beautiful fall day.  Dry is better than sweet and a full bottle is better than an empty one.  Definitely one of my favorite things.

And finally..  bacon.  And Bourbon.  Enough said.

Have you ever thought about it?  What are your favorite things?  I’d love to hear what they are!

My First Mushroom

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Someone asked me today what got me started in my business; where did this passion come from?  I had to sit back a minute and think about it.  After all, I've been doing it for such a long time that I feel it was always there, but there is always a beginning to every story, and this is mine.

Growing up, I couldn't really cook.  My parents were of the era where meat was cooked until it turned to shoe leather, vegetables came from a can, and the trend for convenience and budget meant potato spuds from a box.  I rarely liked what was put in front of me, with few exceptions.

Money was used to pay bills and not to go to college, so after I graduated high school, I went to an art school in Pittsburgh via student loans.  In order to pay for room and board, I stayed with a French family and watched their young daughter and helped with the cooking.  This was an introduction into another life I had never experienced.  I was 19 and tasted my very first mushroom!  Imagine a mushroom being the catalyst to buying my first cookbook.  I actually still have it in my collection so many years later, and I am sharing my first recipe ever made that I still make to this day.

I enjoyed following the recipes and even more so, I enjoyed the results.  Little by little, without realizing it, I was laying the foundation for what would become my passion.

And then life happened.  I got married, started a family, got a divorce, and had to get a job.  I went to work for a mortgage company and ended up settling in for sixteen years.  Cooking and baking were on the back burner.

Fast forward ten years.  I remarried, and my children were pretty much grown and doing their own thing.  I had more time but still didn't really think of food as my passion, as much as it was a necessity.  I enjoyed entertaining and creating little bites for my friends that would ooh and aah, but I believe I thought it was more about the entertaining.  Then one day, I was watching a show about making cupcakes.  It was a contest, it was fun, and I started thinking what flavor I would make; I then, of course, had to make them.   How hard could cupcakes be?  After all, I was pretty good with a recipe. With a huge amount of confidence, I made my special flavor, and when I pulled them out of the oven, I was aghast to see all I had made were hockey pucks.  What?  The second try resulted in the same disgusting manner.  The challenge was on, and I was going to win.

With determination and malice, I rose to the cause of defeating my nemesis.   I researched, I watched, I read, and I discovered what I was doing wrong. Finally after several attempts: voila!   I had created a light, fluffy, and moist cupcake.  I took them into work, and they were devoured.  So naturally, I had to make more.... and then I made even more.  It was almost like once I had succeeded, the underlying bug in my bed of creativity was awoken and all I wanted to do was cook or bake.

I was like a sponge.  I couldn't read enough food magazines, watch an overabundance of food shows, or practice on too many people.  I would take my samples into my work kitchen and watch everyone enjoy.  I was loving what I could accomplish.                                

Then the market dropped out, and within a short span, my father and my youngest brother died.  It was almost like I died.  The only thing that seemed to keep me going was stirring a bowl of chocolate or finding some new hors d'oeuvre to try.  I was losing my desire to go to work.  I didn't know what to do until a friend sat me down and said, "Do what you love."  But at my age, the fear of starting over was a little overwhelming.  It wasn't until I went to my last closing and noticed "the sign" on a cup of coffee; this little quote on the side of a cup was what made me decide to take the leap.  "Follow your passion and you will find your purpose."

Today, it's been three years to the month that I have been the owner of The Twisted-Fork, and I haven't looked back. It hasn't been without difficulty, but every day is a new day, and I love it. There are learning curves everywhere, and every day I move forward with new knowledge of something to continue making my food beautiful and tasty.  I know this is the right path for me because truly... "if you follow your passion, you will find your purpose."

 

 

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