Oh hey! I'm Val Stanley.

Back in the summer of 2010 I got this crazy idea to start a blog. I'd been blogging before that I suppose, but I felt that my shouts across the internets were far too random in content. I needed to have a focus, a theme. A lot of folks had been asking me for recipes for my potlucky contributions, and honestly, if I don't write something down right after I think of it, it'll be gone in less than a week. I decided that for my memory's sake, for finding a new way to keep in touch with folks, and good old archival purposes, that a food blog was the thing to try. Recipe sharing is recipe caring.

Looking back, it all makes perfectly good sense. If you ask me how long I've been into cooking and baking, I'd probably tell you it has only been the last four years. This is according to my current standard of what it takes to be a level-headed, well-intentioned, and well-informed home cook. The thing is, my kitchen adventures started way before that if I think long and hard about it. My parents taught me how to make scrambled eggs at age six. I started experimenting in the kitchen when I committed myself to a herbivorous lifestyle and went vegetarian at age sixteen. I recall a lot of tinkering with vegetarian chili and perfecting cinnamon raisin banana cookies. In high school, I worked at an independent coffee shop (alas, it went bankrupt and had to close its doors), where I learned how to make this strange and exotic food called 'hummus'. :) In college I endeavored to teach basic kitchen skills (Thanks, high school home economics classes! Public school all the way!) to my boyfriend (then fiance, now husband). I'll never forget the time he managed to surprise me by making pancakes all by himself during finals to cheer me up. Or the time he threw me a surprise pasta party for my birthday the night before a cross country race. Thank you for your efforts!

There were lots of fails. It took me a long time to sort out how to prepare tofu in a tasty manner. Ninth grade classmate, why don't we just forget about that time we tried to make fried chicken. Mom, I am still sorry I scalded that pot trying to figure out how to make chai from scratch. I will never forget that milk burns. Husband, I'm still sorry I made you suffer through gross broccoli enchiladas (twice!) and chunky chilled avocado soup. Lesson learned: under-ripe avocados will ruin your day. Just don't tell anybody about the time I drowned the savory pinto bean tart in a hot water bath. Father-in-law, let us not talk about the time you called me out for buying fat-free half & half. How embarrassing. I will never do it again.

I guess it just seems like food wasn't really as important to me then as it is now. The simple truth is, I was a picky kid. Food was just meh. I was all about the beige food and nothing else. Did I like to pick strawberries from the field? Heck yes I did! Too bad they are covered in seeds though! Banana shortcake for me! I thought pears only came from cans. As in, the skins must be toxic/thank goodness for heavy syrup. I hated citrus (pulpy!) and berries (seeds!). As far as meat goes, I only liked chicken -- sometimes (vegetarianism is an excellent cover up for this). I thought apple pie was gross. I only learned how to eat an artichoke when I was 22. Come to think of it, I was 22 when I first had edamame for the first time too. Friends, I know it is funny and everybody does it once, but really, don't let rookies eat the whole thing, furry pod and all. Let's just stop that vegetable hazing ritual right now.

Somehow I've come around to most vegetables (no mushrooms, pickles, or olives please. And while we are on it, no hoppy beer either, and we are set!), and I'm quite excited about trying new things. Just this summer, we've gotten on the arugula train and I won't pass up a radish again ever. I've been told I should write a cookbook a few times now, and one darling friend asked me why I don't up and quit my science job to open a restaurant (swoon!). I was even asked to bake someone scones because they heard via social media that I bake killer scones. I appreciate the kind words, folks. Here's the plan though: I just like sharing my kitchen adventures with you all and I hope you dig my silly attempts at putting words together. I promise to keep working on my photography skills (a fun hobby that I can assure you only started up because of this blog) if you keep reading. Just promise me you'll check in and let me know when you try out a recipe, okay? It makes me feel like I've helped you out, and I dig that.

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