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I'm a programmer by day, bread baker by night. To make a living, I do process automation for management at an inbound call center. (It's really not as exciting as it sounds.) Actually, I enjoy my job. There are worse things I could be doing to finance my cooking / baking habits.
When I went to college and moved out of the dorms, I started to become interested in actually learning how to cook. I had a lactose intolerant boyfriend, and a limited budget, so it made sense to stop eating take-out pizza and Taco Bell every day. I have to credit The Dairy Free Cookbook by Jane Zukin as my first real guide. (I still cook out of it , even though the boyfriend is long gone!)
With that as a start, I set about systematically teaching myself how to cook.
Five years later, I'm getting a reputation from friends and family as being a good cook. I love baking bread from scratch (I could really become a sourdough freak - thanks Donna!) - I can't seem to make enough cinnamon raisin swirl to keep my mom and grandmother happy. I'm enjoying getting back to eating seasonally, eschewing over - processed prepared food in favor of simpler, healthier, better tasting, cheaper meals I make myself. When I set out to learn, I never imagined I'd be making stock, roasting whole chickens, baking bread, or shopping at our local farmer's market. Now I can't imagine going back to the way I used to eat.
I hope someday to learn enough about bread baking to open a local bakery/cafe, somewhere in Westport or Downtown Kansas City. I love my city, and the kind of place I have in mind will be a place that gives back to the community. I want to leave this city a better place for my having been here.
Here's my standard metric for how I review recipes here, because I want my reviews to be helpful and consistent:
***** Fantastic as is. Wouldn't change a thing and will make it often.
0**** Fantastic tweaked a little to suit my tastes. Will make it often.
00*** Had to tweak it alot to get something I would make again.
000** Not very good. May try tweaking it again at some point.
0000* Not good. Probably won't try making again, even with tweaks.
I've been known to eat at a hyped restaurant and leave disappointed if they served mediocre bread. Just recently I was at a country style diner for breakfast and ordered one of thier highly regarded cinnamon rolls. What a disappointment! It was obvious that the dough was an afterthought to the icing and filling. Wrong priorities in my book.
The two most requested things I make are probably my cinnamon raison swirl bread, and my shrimp-stuffed twice baked potatoes. I can't take credit for either of those recipes, but it turns out that if you're good at following directions, you can fool people into thinking you're a good cook!
Some of my favorite things to eat are pesto, sushi, t-bone steak (medium rare), homemade tomato soup, shrimp, PIZZA, fresh tomatoes in season, almost any kind of cheese, and any kind of good, quality bread.
Since I've joined ZAAR I've started getting into canning and light OAMC, and sourdough bread. The people all those forums rock my socks off by being so helpful and friendly!
OTHER ZAAR COOKBOOKS I LIKE:
Veggies You've Never Tried Before:
08/06 TOTM: Good Things From the Garden