Knock, Knock! The Cook Next Door

the cook next door
We read so much about food bloggers’ daily adventures in all things gastronomical, but these experiences tell us about today, and only hint at who we really are behind the pictures and the words. Curious about our many many yesterdays that inspire us now, Nicky from Delicious Days has launched a new meme, The Cook Next Door, and it is slowly making its delicious orbit around the food blog world.

Monsieur Clement from A La Cuisine! has volleyed it this way, and I am so totally honored, because his is one of the blogs that inspired me to kick-start one myself.

So off we go, a little peek into my delicious past (and a little of the present)…

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

Last week, I made a souffle all by myself! ;)

But really now, I’m sure I followed my Mom around the kitchen and helped her tons, and even “made” a few fairly easy things, but the first one I actually have a memory of is Ants on a Log, if spreading peanut butter on a celery stick and putting five raisins on it is really considered cooking. I don’t think my Mom trusted me around open flames until much much later.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

Mom, of course, for teaching me basic techniques and the importance of food to friends and family, which is why she was the inspiration for last month’s Dine and Dish – Queen of Cuisine. Though in looks and personality I am so very obviously my Daddy’s little girl, I must have inherited my entire set of tastebuds directly from Mom. Does my taste for all things spicy foods come from nature, or is that Mom nurtured it by sitting right there sweating it out with me over a bowl of fiery red bibimbahp or yook-gae-jahng? I have several Korean cookbooks now, but all the Korean cooking I do now I learned from Mom.

These days, it is entire countries that influence my cooking, but it’s still quite obvious that my penchant for supremely spicy cuisines like Indian and Latin comes from Mom.

sarah and oreos

Do you have an old photo as “evidence” of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?

The only picture I have is this: oreos. I think the first baby tooth that grew in was a sweet tooth, and I never lost it. :)

Mageiricophobia – do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?

(Is this a real word? I couldn’t find it in the dictionary) I am absolutely terrified of cooking anything in which I have to deal with live critters. Lobsters, crabs, shellfish. Yikes.

And I have to admit, while I can swirl my way around the stove top, baking anything, sweet or savory, in an oven, definitely makes me nervous. Baking is such an exact science of chemistry and physics, and I will just say right now, I had to take Chem 1A twice. And I barely passed that second time.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?

I don’t have too many gadgets. I cook fairly primitively – peel and mince garlic by hand, even painstakingly peel and finely chop citrus zest because I don’t have a microplane. Am I keeping it real…or am I just too cheap to buy these things?

So that said, my knife is the most important thing to me. That and pair of chopsticks, which can pick up even the tiniest herbs with far more accuracy than a pair of bulky tongs, and they don’t leave a hole-y legacy in food like a fork does.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like – and probably no one else!

Well, my whole family eats roast turkey and mashed potatoes with kimchee. Our American Thanksgiving just wouldn’t feel right without it. But if we’re talking about just me, then perhaps there is no one else who eats Honey Nut Cheerios with water instead of milk. And if you do, then we must meet!

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don’t want to live without?

Kimchee, eggs, and nachos (chips, cheese, salsa that sets my hair on fire, and nothing else).

Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!

…from Nicky at Delicious Days
Your favorite ice-creamYes. Oh, you mean I have to pick one? Coffee.
You will probably never eat…I will try everything at least once. That said, after eating brains or any other animal organs, I will probably not ever eat it again.
Your own signature dish…I am a jack(ette) of all trades, master of none. But what I like to make often is a hard boiled egg.

…from the ChefDoc at A Perfect Pear

Any signs that this passion is going slightly over the edge and may need intervention?

No *wild-eyed, backing into kitchen corner clutching a basket of figs to chest* What do you mean over the edge!?!? But really, sometimes I am so focused on preparing dinner for friends all-day that I forget to eat.

…from Clement at A La Cuisine!
Any embarrassing eating habits?
Nothing too embarassing, but there will be periods where I eat instant ramen (not the $1.99 kind you actually cook in a pot of boiling water, but the $0.10 kind you just rehydrate with hot water) for dinner every night. Oh cripes, did I just type that out loud?!

…from me, Sarah, of The Delicious Life
Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?

After flipping through his cookbook, right now I would have to pick Tyler Florence. He makes me *sigh*

Three people to pass it on to
Though he doesn’t know me, I’d like to knock on the door of The Amateur Gourmet because I lurk on his blog almost every day for some seriously funny (wait, is that possible?) foodness

Also pass this on to the Good Doctor, Dr. Biggles at Meathenge, because, well, come on. Meathenge.

And last, but certainly not least, B, the brilliantly foolish Culinary Fool, because I was too late last time, but this meme around, I ‘m knocking on her door first!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Helen (AugustusGloop) June 20, 2005 at 6:50 am

Cheerioes with water? Eek!

That’s a gorgeous photo of you too as a little ‘un.

Thanks for the peek behind the door (great photo too)!


2 Brenda June 20, 2005 at 2:12 pm

You got me! :-) Thanks for thinking of me and I’ll have something up by tomorrow. I like this meme – it gives some interesting insight into everyone. Although there are a couple questions that I need to really think about!!

~ B


3 Anonymous June 20, 2005 at 3:19 pm

How cute you are! Why on earth are you inspecting that orea so closely for? Eat it, Baby! Eat it!

Thanks for the little peek into your culinary past…


4 melissa June 20, 2005 at 4:01 pm

awww, how cute! my parents didn’t let me eat oreos until i turned 21. darn them. and i empathize about the live critters business… maybe i could bring myself to cook live mussels, but i’m not making any promises!


5 sarah June 20, 2005 at 4:20 pm


basically, it’s any cold cereal and water. it all started back when i was sort of lactose intolerant and i couldn’t drink straight milk (though i certainly let myself suffer for ice cream!). i never let go of the habit, and now, it tastes funny to have milk with cereal. especially the sweet ones!


6 Uwe June 20, 2005 at 6:19 pm

What a cute baby picture!


7 Nicky June 20, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Hi Sarah,
thanks for your post! My favorite part of all the different entries are definitely the pictures – yours is sooooo sweet! Looks like you weren’t sure, whether you could trust that oreo cookie ;)


8 Zarah Maria June 20, 2005 at 9:24 pm

This meme really is the greatest! I’m so enjoying reading peoples answers, including yours! “Ice cream? Yes.” I laughed out loud at that answer!:-)


9 Clement June 20, 2005 at 10:20 pm

Hi Sarah, thanks so much for taking part and for your wonderful post! I’ve never tried cereal with water, but have you tried cereal with juice? It’s surprisingly good!


10 sarah June 21, 2005 at 1:40 am

i can hear them…the *awwww*s from everyone looking at that picture of me with oreo all over my face! thanks, guys! strangely, i still look like that when i eat cookies – LOL!

melissa: the good thing is, i don’t actually like eating lobster and crab too much, so it’s not a fear that i have to deal with often. :)

clement: when we were little and we ran out of milk, my mother would tell us eating cereal with OJ was normal. i didn’t believe her then, and i just don’t know if i believe you now, either. but water is totally normal – ha! ;)


11 Mary Luz November 22, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Your water and cereal fix is almost (I repeat *almost*) as bizzare as my childhood treat: white sandwich bread with ketchup OR mustard (never the two shall meet). I have NO idea why I used to think this was ambrosial- but eat it I did. My mum says I even used to sprinkle sugar onto the ketchup variety. My stomach turns at the thought now-but for a 6 year old, this was haute cuisine. Or maybe I’m just weird. Ya, I know I am. :-)


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