Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inaugural Post!

Angela Ross here and I’m so excited about this new venture of mine! It’s “The Amateur Dish” and it’s all about my love affair with almost all things food, in particular cooking and eating…. And cooking utensils and gadgets. I’ll be doing instructional videos, trying out various recipes (some re-dos of existing ones and some will be my own creations), and will also be visiting local fresh markets, sustainable butchers and fish mongers, as well as local restaurants and cafes to check out what makes them so special, then come back home and cook up my own version of their dishes and even cocktails. I’m so excited!

But first I'm going to give you a little background if you don't mind...

I've not always been interested in food, especially growing up. My father was a pretty decent cook, but my mother could barely boil water to save her life, so I grew up rather indifferent to food. But while attending college in Atlanta I truly began to realize what food could really be… tasty, something so beyond enjoyable and so completely fulfilling that it actually could rival sex (not that I actually knew what good sex was around that age, ha!). So that’s when I set out to actively discover the art of food, the art of cooking. 

Being born and raised here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I did actually grow up with an appreciation for good food, and the different cultures good food represents. Oakland’s Chinatown, San Francisco’s Japantown, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach…. I could go on and on, and these were my backyards. My dad would take me fishing on the Bay early in the morning to catch Perch, San Dabs, and Trout. We’d cross the Bay Bridge early in the morning to the smell of Folgers and Hill’s Brothers Coffee roasting (back then they still had roasting operations near the base of the bridge; sometimes I feel as though I can still smell it), on our way to get fresh crabs and fish almost right off the boats down at the Wharf. I do have some really amazing food memories while growing up here. Then I was off to the East Coast for college and career – Boston, New England, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, New York – need I say any more?

After getting married to an extremely picky eater with an even more extremely limited palate – “you don’t eat left overs?”; “you only eat overcooked chicken breast, tasteless mashed potatoes, and canned sweet corn??”; I had to make serious adjustments. Those were some difficult and dark years. Pause for a moment of silence…. Anyway, after I experienced severe difficulties during my pregnancy with our only child (11 year old daughter ‘Ladybug’), along with several ‘come to Jesus’ discussions with hubby (i.e. him giving in to my pregnancy histrionics around my cravings and for something other than dried out chicken breast and canned corn!), I began looking to food even more, as a way to heal and be healthy, but also for comfort. This is when I REALLY got into food, cooking and experimenting. 

I started taking cooking classes .… knife skills, sushi rolling, pasta making, spice blending – I drank, and ate it all up! I went out and got the gadgets, my main addiction, then dearest hubby came around and got every single high end pot and knife he thought my little heart desired and our pantry could handle (yes, he spoils me rotten!). I went bananas and got pretty damn good. So I began hosting the family holiday dinners and entertaining like crazy; any reason to cook. Then it became all about a form of expression. Expressing my love for those around me, those I love and care about, through food, cooking, and entertaining. 

About seven years ago I was diagnosed with severe, life threatening, life altering autoimmune diseases that, all together now, affects my lungs, heart, connective tissue/muscles, bones, and brain/CNS, and was given approximately 18-24 months to live. When it moved to my brain, I had a seizure and tumbled down the stairs. When I woke up I had lost my memory, and my ability to walk, talk and process information properly. I’ve endured chemotherapy, transplants and pharesis, transfusions, countless and long term hospitalizations. I use a cane, a walker, and a wheelchair because my balance sucks. I wish it were due to knocking back too many lavender pear martini’s! Once I began my recovery and rehabilitation, I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen because I didn’t have the motor skills and muscle strength to handle all my fancy and heavy tools. Well that pissed me off and just wasn’t going to work for me - you’ll come to find that I’m a bit stubborn. So getting back in my kitchen, along with becoming independent so I could take care of myself and my family, became my sole focus – and I did it.  Although I’m having a great year, I’m still neck deep in this fight, and food is one of only a few of my escapes. 

So come along on this escape, well, more like a journey, with me! We’ll check out various local spots in and around the San Francisco Bay Area - some well known while most may not be. I'll check out what makes them so special, maybe even learn a trick or two from the chef, then race home to make my own 'amateur' versions and ‘dish’ about what we’ve learned, in addition to showing you some of the basics of cooking and entertaining. You can expect 2-3 posts each week once I get started. Meanwhile, please email me with any recommendations within the Bay Area – I want to hear from you!

I’m so excited!