About the Author
I call myself a culinary communicator. Basically, I get paid to make people hungry instead of full. I’m a freelance writer and instructor. For nearly 25 years, my job has been to transform concepts and ideas into inspiring text, recipes, products, and images. After working on a huge collaborative project for a few years, I decided I was ready to try something on my own. I set out to write a little book about contemporary sauce making that soon evolved into a nearly 500 page tome called Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook’s Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors. Remarkably, it was selected as one of the best cookbooks of 2015 by several publications. I ran into some seemingly insurmountable roadblocks during the final phases and swore I’d never do another book, but the accolades and kind words from readers inspired me. Searing Inspiration: Fast, Adaptable Entrees and Fresh Pan Sauces will be released on November 6, 2018.
Searing Inspiration is about “winging it”. It’s a mix and match approach to searing food and making sauces in a hot skillet, built on a framework I call It’s-Been-A-Long-Damn-Day, Wine-From-Your-Glass Pan Sauce. It’s the exact opposite of the science-heavy, super specific books I’ve worked on over the years. I’m done measuring weird stuff in fractions of a gram and testing surface temperatures by radar. These days, I’m happy just making dinner from ingredients that are within reach.
I’m going back to my roots. My family made food and cooking fun. It was often a rowdy, messy, weekend adventure. We dug geoducks, foraged for chanterelles, picked endless berries. We would wake up to the sound of Dad grinding wheat, knowing we would later gorge ourselves on warm bread and whatever hearty soup Mom might concoct. Recipes were optional. My favorite adventures involved piling into the station wagon in search of exotic ingredients. I vividly remember the histrionics my sister and I went through during Dad’s hunt for horsemeat. (Luckily, the back alley butcher at the Pike Place Market was always “sold out”.) I have much vaguer memories of tasting whale from a can.
We didn’t eat at restaurants very often, but when we did they were often hole-in-the wall joints that served authentic Sichuan dishes or fresh-from-the-steamer tamales. Then Mom and Dad would try duplicating their favorite dishes at home. I followed their lead. When something piques my interest, I dig in. I read, research, and sometimes travel (though not nearly enough). I cook like a maniac until the next thing catches my attention. (see My Current Obsession page). I’ve visited Hawaiian seaweed growers, interviewed makers of herbal tonics, and toured large scale dairy farms. I bought edible tar syrup in Helsinki and learned how to make flat breads from women in four Indian states. I am magnetically drawn to international ingredients and markets. I watch the shoppers, taste whatever I can, cook it poorly, and then try again with a crowd of friends.
The “downside” to that kind of passion is that my cupboards and refrigerator are filled to groaning with condiments, spices, and specialty ingredients. I recently counted 8 different kinds of soy sauce. In the name of reducing waste, I’m trying hard to simplify my cooking and creatively use what I have in quick, fresh dinners. I’m lousy at updating my blog, but I will do my best to share some of my flash-in-the-pan meals. I hope they will help you find the energy and inspiration to fire up a skillet, pour yourself a glass of wine, and turn your long-damn-day into a lovely evening.
Cheap and Good – Leanne Brown
The Cooking Lab
I Love Thai Cooking School – Pranee Halvorson
Wine Country Culinary Institute
W.W.Norton & Company
Angie Norwood Browne Photography
Hot Stove Society
Town Hall Seattle