Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sasha's Kitchen: How I Started to Cook

So, I have never written a blog. Someone suggested that I do this about my food, so here I go. I am married and live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. By day, I am a lawyer in Manhattan. But I love to cook. And, I love to write. Back in college in suburban Philadelphia (Haverford College), I was a newspaper editor and I loved writing for the newspaper, but I never wrote about food, and I never did journalism after college. Somehow, this eventually led to a career in law.

Anyhow, I didn't really cook much growing up at all, and I didn't cook much when I lived alone when I first moved to New York either. It wasn't that I didn't like to cook, I just never really had done much. Also, whenever I did cook, it created a huge mess which I never was much interested in cleaning up. Finally, in those early days I always had a tiny kitchen, a tiny sink and no dishwasher. My first apartment after college was at Columbia University, shared with a strage chemistry graduate student named Liz. She did do some cooking, supposably but was so friendly that she kept all of her kitchen equipment in padlocked cabinets. So that didn't encourage me to learn how to cook either.

I started really doing some cooking when I first started dating my husband, Brad in 2004. Brad really had no idea how to cook at all at that point. But we figured out some meals together. Around this time, I tried to make tri-colored marzipan rainbow cookies, a very complicated recipe. It was a total disaster - they tasted terrible, looked awful and I stained my hands green. We did bring them to a party at Brad's suggestion and I believe only one of his friends was drunk enough to try a cookie. These were my humble beginnings.

I slowly got better. My mom got me a description to Everyday Food, Martha Stewart's magazine. In the beginning, I stuck to these recipes. The directions were easy to follow and they always came out perfectly, even when I was first starting out. And they were great recipes - for everything. I had new ideas each month. Say what you want about Martha, but her recipes are the best - I still love them to this day. And she knows her shit. Her challah is better than the challah from the Kosher cookbooks I've used. Go figure.

From 2004 through 2008, I cooked more and more, but mostly on the weekends. I had a pretty demanding job with very long hours as a attorney at a large firm. So most weeknights were spent ordering take-out on the firm account at work. But I loved cooking on the weekends.

In late 2008, due to various economy-cratering events, I ultimately wound up working at a small firm with more sane hours. However, it was just to expensive in the midst of this non-ending recesssion to eat out or order in all the time. So, my husband and I decided that we (mostly me) would cook at least 5 nights a week from our home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I'd cook and he'd do the laundry. Now he helps with some of the cooking, but I don't even remember how to use the laundry machine.

When you cook that much you look for new recipes. I get bored easily so I needed new and different recipes to challenge myself with. The more complicated the better. I'd find recipes online, in cookbook, on facebook and from a variety of sources. I figured out in this last year how to make just about anything from scratch - apple pie, challah, crabcakes, cupcakes, ice cream, chutneys of all kinds, tuna burgers, braised oxtail - you name it - from the ordinary to the weird. Oh, and I figured out how to make the elusive rainbow cookies in my stand artesion mixer (a 2006 engagement gift that finally found its home in my kitchen when we moved to Brooklyn in April, 2008). In fact, the rainbow cookies, far removed from that intial disaseter, are now one of my best recipes. In this time, I only found one thing I prefer NOT to make from scratch - that would be gingerbread. Why? Well apparaently, in addition to the obvious ginger, cinnamon and flour, ginerbread is made with unsulfured molasses. Who knew that unsulfured molasses absolutely stinks?

So thanks to this recession, I learned how to cook just about anything. Would I still be eating PBJ, goat cheese covered apples and take-out every night if Al Gore had prevailed in Florida on that sad November night? Perhaps. At any rate, a newly energized Sasha eagerly planned my menus for the week and looked forward to my sunday grocery shopping almost as much as pre-recession I looked forward to shopping at bloomingdales. Well, almost. In this time period, we started doing dinner parties, which I learned I love to do. I actually found cooking to be relaxing and a good use for all the restless energy I seemed to always have. And I liked cooking food in mass. I wish more than anything that we had enough space to host large thanksgiving and jewish holiday dinners.

I guess I have always been a "foodie" in terms of the restaurants and foods I liked. I never really was a picky eater as a child, so this was a fairly easy transition. I'm very petite - I never ate much (either as a kid or even today) but I would try everything and ate a variety of foods.

After posting enough food on facebook, people (encluding people I hadn't seen in years who saw my updates on facebook) started to think I was some kind of foodie-supercook person. Eventually someone suggested that I write a blog about food.

So here I am - I plan to blog about the food that I prepare, foods I plan to cook, and food I have cooked, and include pictures as well.

There are a few foods that I do not eat that you will never see here: pork, bacon, ham, licorice, capers and olives. Also, no lobster because I cannot kill anything in my kitchen.


  1. Good luck on the blog. I look forward to hearing about your kitchen adventures.

  2. I am following your blog and am excited to see you post your food photos!


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