“c” is for cooking…

When I was in my teens, I would watch cooking shows with wonder and amazement. And jealousy. Armed with the ability to create these gastronomic masterpieces, the cheflebrities had even bigger pots and pans. Not to mention longer spatulas…

One show in particular, Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet, intrigued me more than the others. The Frug, as he was affectionately called, not only dished out tasty grub, he shared his vast knowledge of food history and culture with his viewers. He always reminded us that being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, but rather not wasting anything and only using quality ingredients. I connected with his genuine love of food and learned from him not only recipes, but valuable life lessons as well.

A minister by profession, The Frug wrote several cookbooks and even had a kitchen supply store in Tacoma, WA. The very first cookbook I bought was his The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine. To this day, I still refer to it and find my inspiration whenever I can.  When I moved to the Seattle area in 1997, I made sure his store was one of the first places I visited.

I have added many, many books to my culinary library since then, including most of The Frug’s. From Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen, to The Ma Cuisine Cooking School, to even Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook, they’re as eclectic as they can be.

Through the years and trial and error, I have come up with my own personal cooking style. Although fusion-style cooking has been around for centuries, I can only describe mine as pan-global.

Gathering from many cultural influences I have been exposed, I’ve come up with some interesting combinations such as cilantro-peanut pesto and chicken molé pot stickers. Next time I make these, as well as some others, I will definitely post them here.

Now, back to the cookbooks…

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a silent auction to benefit the local United Way in Greenwood, MS. It was conveniently held at The Alluvian Hotel, which happened to be where I was staying. For $20.00, I received entrance to the auction, two drink tickets, and appetizers catered by the hotel’s restaurant, Giardina’s.

There were a lot of items up for bid and one in particular I had my eye on. It was an autographed copy of Emeril Lagasse‘s Delmonico cookbook. The opening bid was a mere $20.00 and by the time the auction ended, I was the lucky owner of a $60.00 cookbook signed by the chef himself.

With the immediate accessibility of recipes online, I have only made a few book purchases in the last couple of years. Since this one is autographed and will assist local charities AND is tax-deductible, I made the buy. I’m so excited—there are a lot of cool recipes like rosemary-gruyère bread pudding and stuffed leg of lamb I want to try. Yummy…

Oh, yeah… I also took home a ceramic personal wine and cheese plate created by a local artist. The price? $10.00. What a deal!

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