About “Grammy”: I’m a Registered Dietitian (RD), with a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institution Management, and I’m also a culinary school graduate (mid-life crisis – Okay – I graduated at age 50). I’ve lived in San Diego since 1978, except for the two years that I spent in culinary school in upstate New York. I retired in 2009 at age 67. Several years before my retirement my granddaughter Charlotte was born, and then the year before my retirement my three other grandchildren were born: Nicole and twins Liesel and Gunter. Now Charlotte is almost 6 years old, and the other three are almost 5 years old. So – I became “Grammy”.
My passion for food, cookbooks, and collecting recipes began a long time ago in Trumbull, Connecticut, where I grew up. I still have my first cookbook Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook, 1950. As a child I spent hours looking at the color photos of the test kitchens and displays of Christmas cookies. Long cold snow days and Christmas vacations provided opportunity to cook for my family. In the summer after my senior year in college, before starting my dietetic internship, I worked as a buffet chef in a family owned Cape Cod restaurant – The Bacon Farm Inn in Barnstable. I really enjoyed this summer, and even returned the following September to help out closing down the Inn at the end of the season. During my years working in a San Diego hospital I made many wedding cakes for the young doctors and nurses. Many evenings I attended Baking and Pastry classes at a community college. I also taught small cooking classes in my home kitchen. One Christmas I taught classes in: Buche de Noel and Croquembouche. I lived a double life preaching the prudent low-fat diet by day, and returning home to a refrigerator stocked with butter, eggs and heavy cream for my wedding cake business, Chez Valier. In 1989 the hospital sent me to a 1 week Nutritional Cuisine course at the Culinary Institute of America. In 1990 when my youngest daughter went off to college, and my husband was based in New York City for Pan American World Airways, I decided to quit my hospital job to attend culinary school in Hyde Park, New York.
I’ve always been a collector of cookbooks, and have a wrap-around bookcase in the living room full of them. Some are signed by the authors. I came of age with Julia Child and Martha Stewart cookbooks. As a retiree I literally spend hours surfing the web for food blogs, videos, printing out recipes, and querying Google for all kinds of answers to my many food questions. Before there was the Internet I ordered the indexes to Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Gourmet magazines. One of my passions was looking up and comparing different versions of the same dish. Fellow students in culinary school used to see me with my indexes looking up all kinds of things in the library’s complete collections of these magazines. They would say, “So – What are ‘we’ comparing today?”
While in culinary school I learned the proper way, the handed down from master to apprentice way, to prepare the classics. I practiced my skills, used modern tools to perform age-old tasks, and followed time-honored ratios and formulae. All the while I was tested, and critiqued without mercy by French, German and Austrian chef-instructors. I still have nightmares. The discipline was unbelievable. I toughened my skin – a bit, but I’m still amazed that I managed to graduate in spite of myself. In October ’11, while on a trip down memory lane vacation, I visited the Culinary Institute of America. The college had grown so much over the 20 years. It was great 20 years ago, but it’s so much better now. All the old familiar faces were gone. Many feelings filled my heart and mind that day, but overall I felt very proud to be an alumni.
Now I’m back to softer, kinder cooking. I often will look up a few recipes for pot roast on the Internet, and then put my own spin on the dish. I love to vary the method from stove top, to oven, or even crock-pot. I’m not afraid to try new dishes because I have the basics down; It’s the spin I enjoy. My stack of recipe printouts, charts, answers, ads, ideas for new tools, etc is out of control, and needs to be organized. I do need to organize my kitchen cupboards to reflect my respect for food preparation. I need to refresh my “batterie de cuisine”. Many of my older tools are worn out. (I need a bridal shower.) My goal is to organize my: recipes, cupboards, and replace wornout tools – Yes – that’s what I need to do. I so enjoy sharing and teaching about food and nutrition.
That’s about Grammy.