About the Author
I’m a freelance writer, instructor, and project manager specializing food, recipes, and ideas. I have no memory of not cooking. I subscribed to Bon Appetit magazine in elementary school, made my first dim sum feast at 14, and started working in the industry at 16. I had grand plans to study oceanography, art history, or law, but my wanderlust overpowered my enthusiasm for academia. I went to culinary school in London when I realized that “French trained” chefs could find work anywhere in the world. I came back after graduation because it’s hard to improve on Seattle as a hometown.
Cooking was often a rowdy, messy, weekend adventure for my family. We dug geoducks, foraged for chanterelles and picked endless berries. Waking to the sound of Dad hand- grinding wheat meant that it would be a day of art or garden projects, loud music, warm brown bread and whatever hearty soup Mom concocted. The station wagon was our spice caravan as we searched for exotic ingredients at specialty stores. 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.
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. I’ve visited Hawaiian seaweed growers, interviewed makers of herbal tonics, and bonded with dairy cows. 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. I recently discovered that I have 8 different kinds of soy sauce on hand. (The first step is admitting you have a problem…)
For over 25 years I’ve worked alongside diverse teams to transform ideas into inspiring text, recipes, products, and images. While recovering from a particularly massive project, I played around with a cookbook idea about contemporary sauce making. Two years later my “little” cookbook, Slather & Douse, had morphed into nearly 500 pages and was released as Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook’s Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors. The accolades and kind words from readers inspired me to create Searing Inspiration: Fast, Adaptable Entrees and Fresh Pan Sauces.
Searing Inspiration is about “winging it”. It’s a wheel-screeching U-Turn from my years working on science-heavy, super specific books where I had to measure weird stuff in fractions of a gram and test surface temperatures by radar. I’m returning to my roots and having fun making dinner creatively, with ingredients that are compelling, seasonal, or within easy reach.
I’m lousy at updating my blog, but I will do my best to share some of my flash-in-the-pan meals and hope they will help you find the energy and inspiration to fire up a skillet, pour yourself a glass of wine, and turn a long-damn-day into a lovely evening.