For as far back as John can remember he has always enjoyed eating food. Of course, the finer points of culinary preparation and consumption came a few years later. During his youth one of his aunts began asking him to help her prepare for the large and lavish social events should would have in her home. Being that she was married to a man who was the pastor of a local church as well as Secretary of the denomination, and who was the proprietor of a local and highly successful grocery store, the social events, and the foods that were offered, were not surprising. John always enjoyed helping, and when his aunt asked him to start making cream puffs for the parties, he graduated from sweeping floors and setting up tables, to food preparation in the kitchen.
John was very fortunate in his formative years to have grown up on a farm in a small community called Panama, California (population 50). Panama was just down the highway from the ‘big city’ Pumpkin Center (population 500). John was fortunate in that, unlike most kids who lived in the city, he was able to be in contact with food before it reached the store, while it was in its natural state. His family grew cotton and alfalfa, rotating crops so the land would not be depleted of its nutrients; raised livestock such as: pigs, sheep, and peacocks (for their eggs); and had a garden of at least an acre in size where his family grew everything from corn and radishes, watermelons and pumpkins, to peanuts and walnuts. There was also a separate garden for flowers of many kinds. Little did he realize that the alfalfa they grew, which he considered merely feed for livestock, was something he not only would be eating, but writing about. He didn’t even realize then that alfalfa was a legume. Although during his formative years he grew up on a farm, John was an Oil and Gas brat who had the opportunity to travel to wherever his father’s work took him.
John’s first food memories are eating the frogs his father would catch in the irrigation canal next to their house and the casseroles his mother would prepare, which were quick, easy, and economical. Throughout his married life, John and his wife have made it a habit to invite people, sometimes fairly large groups, into their home to share food, fun, and friendship. However, it has been in the past few years that food, its science, preparation, experimentation, tasting, and presentation has really become his passion, perhaps even an obsession.
While attending college in Houston, John ended up renting a room from an executive chef who had managed kitchens in fine restaurants along the East and Southern coasts, including in New Orleans. This association provided John with insights about the operation and management of a commercial kitchen. Also influential in John’s culinary life have been the writings of Harold McGee and Shirley Corriher. John is a voracious reader and has an inquisitive mind which leads him to consider his kitchen as his laboratory to uncover new and better methods of preparing foods that surprise and delight his family and guests.
John enjoys trying new foods, different cuisines & cultures, and new restaurants. He also likes to frequent stores that carry items that are not found at his local grocery, learn about their preparation and use in foods, then putting together a dish with them or a meal based on a related cuisine to make for his next party (or experiment on his family).
John hopes you will enjoy and benefit from the articles he will be posting here, as well as the variety of materials he will be covering, and that you will join him on his expeditions of adventure into the culinary arts.
John passed away in early 2013 after fighting a battle with cancer. We miss John’s wit, personality, incredible posts and of course his compassion – please take a moment to remember this great man, we miss you John!