AJ and I have polar approaches to cooking. He meticulously researches recipes and follows them to the letter. The result being that his creations are consistently good. I like to “wing it”. This means that some of my concoctions are pretty lousy, a few get rave reviews, and the rest fall somewhere in the middle.

Today, I organized my filing cabinet and got into my recipe file. Looking through these stained and yellowed recipes was like a trip down memory lane. I have a Scandinavian cookbook from my paternal grandmother, numerous pages ripped from magazines by different people throughout my life, I have recipes given to me by my first mother-in-law (who was a phenomenal Cajun cook) and printouts shared by my stepmother (who kept track of her best recipes in a computer database).

When I look through this collection of recipes (many of them handwritten), I am instantly taken back to that moment when someone I loved took the time to find, share and explain the gift of a special culinary creation. I teared up when I saw the pie crust recipe hand written for me by my (now deceased) “Grandma Reenie”. Thrilled that I had developed an interest in cooking, she set about infusing me with as much of her expertise as I could absorb during that summer visit.

AJ’s mom is also an extraordinary cook and I admire her style (which is much like my own, only better). I learned many of the basics from working in restaurants. Since I don’t smoke, I spent my breaks from waitressing standing at the line and interviewing the cooks and chefs. Most of my personal recipes are variations on the basic principals I learned during those years in the hospitality business. I’m going to start this collection with one I created last night.

Roxanne’s Weed Salad: A cool, summery mix of things from the garden with a couple of extra goodies.

French Baked Pompano: The tasty conclusion for a suicidal fish.

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