trying to teach myself to cook better. low on funds but big on appetite. my sisters used to called me "poor girl with expensive taste" when i bought stinky cheese from the cheese shop and dragged home clothing and furniture off the street. I do not have expensive gears. my benriner is my food processor. my arms will have to do in the kneading department. I have a cranky, old orange food mill for puree needs (great for mashed potatoes, too). pretty good at whipping cream to peaks of loveliness with a whisk. have a small mortar from IKEA for grinding and probably should get a larger one, one day. most prized scores: Le Creuset frying pan with wooden handle about $5 Le Creuset 3qt Dutch oven about $6 Griswold 10-inch frying pan about $3 Henckels 8” knife…not as cheap but I really like this knife and was sorta’ within my budget food memory: pâte à choux. my grandmother taught me how to make this batter. we typically deep-fry the batter into pets de nonnes; translation: nun’s farts. she explained that they were named thusly due to the poof of steam emitted just when they puff up to double their size, signifying that they fried perfectly. guess nuns have heavenly farts. for awhile, she tried to convince us to call them soupirs de nonnes (nun’s sighs) but we preferred the pets to the soupirs. more graphic. cookbooks: i checkout cookbooks from the library. presently the only one that I own is the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. between the book and much research on the internet, I’m slowly learning how to bake. just discovered autolyse! for Xmas, have requested Ruhlman’s Ratio and McGee’s On Food and Cooking. intrigued by food science and how or why those nuns fart the way that they do. I really like the style of Ruhlman’s teaching to simplify down to the basics. plus he mentioned nun’s farts on his website! don’t have a book on core-techniques as I’m rather overwhelmed by the choices of books available. long-term goal: to one day use recipes as just guides for the creation of dishes and whip out multi-course meals like a master chef short-term wishes: for my herb plants to survive for at least 1 year. apartment living is not conducive to plant survival, particularly during the winter months here in Chicago, IL. any guidance, steering or gentle nudges in the right direction is greatly appreciated. I am in awe of the vast knowledge here and ever-so slightly intimidated, but do want to learn. just have limited resources and unfortunately also limited time as I do have to work in order to bring home my stinky cheeses. high goals, I know, but one can only aspire for what seems out of reach and hope that in shooting for the stars, you can at least hit the moon…or something.