Hello, again, I think

Joined Feb 15, 2011
Hi everyone.  I posted in this forum about two weeks ago when I joined the site, and kept wondering sadly why nobody ever responded to say hello... finally I came back into this forum to see how far down the page my welcome post had dropped, and discovered that it evidently never went through at all!  Well, no wonder nobody liked me, lol.

I'm a 29 yr old home cook, and I occasionally do some light catering-type work (mostly cakes, sometimes canned chilis, soups and stews) which I'm trying to increase this year.  I'm also about to launch a cooking-related website that features articles on food science and how the cooking and baking processes work, interesting "did you know?" anecdotes about foods, and a handful of step-by-step instructional recipes aimed at people who bought books called "Cooking for Dummies" only to find that many of those titles still assume that you know whether your stove is gas or electric, that you own a cutting board and something sharper than a butter knife, and that you don't need the term "preheat" explained.  As the older sibling of a college athlete who lives in an apartment with three teammates, I have found that none of the above are good assumptions to make regarding the culinarily challenged.  I'm actually working on a section for the website devoted to equipment and ingredient substitutions.  From time to time I stay at my sister's apartment for a couple days and do some recipe testing in her tiny ill-equipped kitchen, as background research (and to save her roommates from starving to death). Not everybody owns a colander or a set of measuring cups or a muffin tin -- particularly true of the student and beginner demographic at whom my site is aimed -- and so I want to offer complete instructions for making do with whatever you might have on hand instead.

I've been cooking for a long time, on and off as my health fluctuates.  My mom is a wonderful cook and even as a little kid my favorite games tended to involve making pretend food in pretend restaurants in my backyard, using differently shaped and colored foliage, flowers, and of course the occasional mud pie.  But I've had severe rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 12, and the disease as well as the medications have taken a toll over the years.  I currently suffer from advanced osteoporosis and Cushing's thanks to corticosteroid dependence, and on the side there's also chronic anemia, hypoglycemia, persistent nausea, and recurring migraines.  I've never been physically able to work outside my home -- I have some great days and some good days and some okay days, the combination of which happily outnumber the days when I can't use the toilet by myself, but unfortunately most employers don't consider it acceptable to call in sick 10% of the time and show up another 20% unable to stay on my feet longer than an hour.  So I live with my parents and try my best to contribute to the household and society as best I can.  I'm hoping to eventually be able to generate a decent income from my website, as well as the cakes and canned foods I sell, and and in the future offering personal one-on-one cooking classes via webcam.

In my ideal life, I would have liked to have been a cook.  A real one, I mean, to work in the industry.  I've never been healthy enough to even have a job at McDonald's.  My dream would be to attend culinary school but obviously that isn't realistic, given that even on my best days loaded up with painkiller I still can't stay on my feet more than a few hours, can't lift more than 10 lbs, can't bend down or reach up.  My knife skills are nonexistant because my hands are very weak and also kinda clawed up, but I do it "my way" and manage to get along fairly well, if not very fast.  I don't like to be stopped in the kitchen by my physical limitations so I tend to find alternate techniques that work better for me, often cooking foods in small batches either one after another or simultaneously but in separate pans (so I don't have to lift a full 12" skillet).  If that isn't possible I turn to specialized equipment, and only as a last resort admit I'm going to need help getting 4 gallons of boiling water off the stovetop, or similar dilemmas.  I have several small and medium skillets and saucepans with a second outer handle (of the sort usually found on larger\heavier cookware),  a 6" Wusthof chef's knife that suits my little hands, and an army of lightweight plastic mixing and serving bowls and utensils.

Well, that's who I am.  I'm pleased to be here and hope to meet everybody on the forums!
Joined Jan 5, 2007
Welcome to ChefTalk.

Sorry to hear that your original post seemed never to have appeared on the welcome forum...  we are usually very good at giving a welcome to new members!

The membership here is varied - from around the globe (I'm Scots, for instance) and all levels of culinary expertise.  I'm in the 'enthusiastic amateur' group, but we have every level up to and including master chefs.

The wikis, blogs, reviews, article and photographs on the site are well worth a look.  The professional fora are 'read-only' to those of us who are not in the culinary professions, but still make interesting reading!

Feel free to join in on any thread you find interesting, or start your own in the relevant forum.

So sorry to hear that you are suffering such a lot with arthritis - it's a real downer when you want to create wonderful things and yet your pain doesn't allow you to hold down a job outside the home.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Welcome to Cheftalk, ask a lot of questions there are many talented Chefs with lots of ideas. They may have some good tip on making things easier for you to accomplish.............The best................ChefBillyB
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Welcome!  I'm sure you will feel at home here.

Your website idea sounds interesting and with your physical limitations it will help you to be able to work when you feel that you are up to it.

All the best to you and I'd like to hear of your progress with your idea
Joined Aug 25, 2009
Welcome to Cheftalk Pearl,

I just logged on and spotted your post. One word comes to mind when I think of everything you had to say , " Tenacity". With everything you have had to endure in your life you still continue to achieve your goals and I applaud you.

You will find a wealth of information here that will just astound you. There are many times when I grab a coffee and sit back and research a topic and read the countless threads on it, chefs , cooks, home cooks, from all over, coming together here to share .....its a wonderful source.

There are some here that have health issues as well, you may come to know who they are over time, who knows. In the meantime , I wish you all the success with your new idea.

Don't forget to use the search bar, it is a great tool for finding information.

Bienvenue !
Joined Feb 15, 2011
Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone.  I've been reading with fascination the professional fora (as an aside, I absolutely love seeing that plural used outside of an academic environment -- I took four years of Latin throughout high school and college and continue to pursue fluency as a hobby) and after seeing some of your names there as regular posters, I'm delighted that you would take the time to come by the newbie area to offer a welcome to someone who will never be a part of the industry.

So... what kind of business do I need to be doing in order to post on the pro catering boards?  LOL.  Yes, I'm kidding.  At the moment I'm lucky if I sell two or three cakes in a month.  This year I've been providing "showcase" platters for the large tailgating crowds at my sister's university and I've already picked up several orders from the exposure, but because of my health situation I can only take smaller jobs.  Not enough to call myself a real caterer.  I could probably create an entertaining blog post about it... "You know you're NOT a professional when you serve pizza bagels and frozen veg to your family for supper because you needed to empty out the home freezer to make space for a client's three chocolate mousse cakes."
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