About Me

Anyone can cook.

That includes you.

It seems intimidating at first. Believe me, I know--I did not spring fully formed as a gourmet chef from my mother's womb. In fact, in my early adulthood (read: college), I actively avoided cooking. Gradually I realized that I didn't like eating crap, that I wanted my food to taste good, that I could make something that tasted better than fast food.

Also, I was poor, and couldn't afford to eat out.

What cooking knowledge I have has been hard-won, built from years of forced frugality and experimentation. Yes, I too have purchased and eaten Hamburger Helper and Kraft Mac n' Cheese (though not for many years, thank God). I too have cooked with dull knives and tin pans. I too have mangled recipes, burnt dinner, been forced to eat my mistakes because I couldn't afford to throw it away.

Think of cooking like driving: you weren't born knowing how to drive, either. And when you first started, you weren't very good at it. But you kept at it, because you had to, and now you can merge gracefully at high speeds and parallel park with abandon. (I hope.)

Cooking is like that. If you can follow directions, you can cook. Start with a good, all-purpose cookbook. Once you have a few dishes under your belt, start experimenting. Adjust the spices, substitute shrimp for chicken, whatever.

Don't be afraid.

If you make a mistake, if something doesn't turn out right, make notes in the margin. Try again. It will take time and effort, at first. But once you get the hang of it, conjuring dinner from scratch will take no more time and effort than Kraft Mac n' Cheese does now. My best-loved cookbooks are falling apart, cracking away from the binding, pages littered with all manner of stains, some pages literally loved out of existence. They all have notes in the margin--"More garlic," "ground pork not ground beef," "25 minutes!!," "try cranberries instead?"
The cost of accumulating a real kitchen--cookbooks, good knives, exotic spices--is daunting. I know, I've been building mine for years. But once you start getting the good stuff, its cost amortizes. Think of how much money the average family spends on lunches at work, pizza, Lean Cuisine dinners, processed crap. Think how much you'll save when you stop buying all that stuff. Now you can put that money--slowly--toward building a pantry. Cost of knives and pans aside, I spend less than $200 a month feeding two people. I can spend that little because I spent so much over the years buying good kitchen stuff on sale, on eBay, on craigslist. And practicing, practicing, practicing.

This is my gospel: that anyone can cook. That everyone should cook. Even if you're poor. Even if you don't know the difference between sugar and flour. Even if you work three jobs and have twelve kids. Cooking from scratch tastes better. It's cheaper. It's better for you. Most importantly, it tastes better.

Now that I know what I'm doing, cooking is fun. It's relaxing. When you're cooking, you can only think about cooking. The rest of the world fades away. I can spend a couple of hours banging around in the kitchen, wielding my knives, singing along to good music, trying things out, and at the end, my brain has been cleared out. And I have this really great thing to eat. That's so awesome.


  1. BF,

    I'm glad to see you have a couple of squash recipes I think I can eat! I was eating vegan but I've got so many food allergies my friend suggested "Creative Health Ventures" saliva test. The results tell you things that are toxic to you and they suggest a diet and length of time to stay on it. For 2 mos I get to eat:

    anasazi bean (they told me I can eat pinto since I can't find this kind in town)

    cilantro *
    dandelion (leaf-root) *
    goat cheese
    goat milk
    jerusalem artichoke
    olive oil *
    brown/basmati rice *
    sheep cheese
    sheep milk
    sheep yogurt
    squash *
    fish w/ scales except tuna/sardines *

    * 2-3 T 3-4 x/day

  2. This looks great, keep it up!
    I'm a definite proponent of this philosophy and save so much money which then gets directed to my party budget.
    I suggest to all my friends to start with the italian cuisine as it's the easiest by far, and from there I manage to convince them to move on to other stuff.
    Something that I've just gotten into is beer making which is very easy as well and reduces my party budget. Where will I spend my money now!

    Ideas to expand on:
    - Price variability of ingredients according to seasonal availability and nearest metropolis.
    - Putting your recipes in a database much like the www.webtender.com "in my bar".
    - A "cooking as a single" section or recipes tailored for singles (reduced time recipes as usually time required cooking for 4 is the same as cooking for 1).
    - Building this website as a wiki (open source so people like me can contribute and develop).
    - Perhaps creating a platform like craiglist for broke foodies (the ideas overflow here).
    - Post articles (either created or found elsewhere) on how your food purchasing habits differ from that of others, which type of food companies no longer receive your patronage, stressing the financial benefits for the broke foodie and implications on the food preparation and distribution industry (think global act local stuff).
    - Post articles on the health benefits of making your own food, adding nutritional information to recipes, etc...
    - Partner up with the slow food network or similar organizations/bloggers. Jot a quick email to them with some of your ideas and watch collaboration work its magic.

    Think doing this as a full-time job!

    Tony from Montreal

  3. I love this blog. I'm really busy so I don't have the time or interest to read many blogs (or any, actually, except food52), but this one is terrific. Keep up the great work. ;o)

  4. I love it too! and its fun how you find folks in a round about way!
    I cook when I'm sad, cook when I happy, angry, carnky, elated - anytime!
    My motto is - if you can read you can cook, cause to follow a recipe is to eat well.
    Avid reader (and also budgeting fiercely thanks to a artist/self employed partner)
    Miss T

  5. Just found your Blog through The Globe. Last year I got Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I & II for Christmas. Best Gift Ever!! I am a good cook but always held back from the "serious" stuff. Your recipes are like that sometimes. Removing mystery from "scary" recipes. :) Have you ever been to Harvest in Cambridge? I think you would like it. Thanks for this great library of recipes.