Allow me to briefly introduce myself. I was born in the late 80's to a poor family in rural Oregon. My maternal Grandparents owned a little bit of property adjoined to the South Santiam River, in which I spent many of my formative years. At their house, in the back corner of their basement, was “The Fruit Room.” Wall to wall, this room was lined with mason jars, packed-full of the previous summer's carefully preserved harvest. Much of my childhood and adolescence was spent helping in a variety of ways around their property; from chopping wood, to picking wild blackberries, building chicken coops, raising livestock, and everything in between. Among these many responsibilities was regularly preparing and preserving produce from our sizable garden. Blanching tomatoes, peeling pears, pitting cherries, slicing apples, trimming string beans, and cooking down fruit preserves were just a few of the many character building chores assigned to my younger self.
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Fast forward to the present, and I have somehow managed to fail my way into being a chef. Now, that absolutely doesn't mean that I don't adore my work, because I do. Putting a well-crafted, hot meal in front of a perfect stranger, only to watch the inadvertent but no less blissful look of satisfaction with every bite never, ever gets old. But, being a chef was never, at any point, my first plan. Alas, here we are, and damn I wish that I'd have paid more attention when I was young. Last I checked, recipes aren't written by rose colored glasses.
It's funny how something like the birth of your first son can cause you to take a look back on your own childhood. Upon reflection, I've found that the things that I hated the most when I was a kid are the things that give me the greatest joy as an adult. The thought of picking tomatoes out of my garden and magically sealing the taste of summer into a jar tickles every last one of my fancies. I can now honestly say that I've grown into an appreciation for what I always considered a mildly oppressive upbringing. Now, all I have to do is teach myself all of those nifty skills that I couldn't be bothered with in my youth.