My interest in cooking began in college, with a single contraband burner smuggled into my dorm room. Unable to bear the institutional swill, I fiddled around, cooking simple food, and in the end discovered something far more satisfying than just a meal. The smells of sizzling eggs and stir-fries emanating from my illicit kitchen lured people to my room. Word spread, as did enthusiasm, and I was hooked. Food comforts. Food brings people together, and I wanted to create and nurture that kind of community.
Instead, after college I moved to Chicago to put my finance degree to work (I did more in college than just feed my roommates), but I quickly grew restless and pined for the days of friends pounding on my door in search of dinner. In 1994 I left my fledgling Wall Street career to earn a certificate of professional cookery from the Culinary School at Kendall College. A short time later I moved with my husband to New York City and, in an amazing instance of fortune, secured an internship at Food & Wine. There I worked my way from intern to associate editor of cookbooks, learning invaluable skills in recipe development and food tasting along the way. While at Food & Wine, I developed the recipes (along with my friend Susan) for a series of eight cookbooks called Quick From Scratch. (They’re good, check them out.)
On the verge of taking the plunge into motherhood, I decided to broaden my experience and took advantage of many freelance opportunities in New York. Stints as a prep cook at the TV Food Network, cooking teacher, and food writer came to a screeching halt, however, once that pregnancy took hold. Alas, my body wanted nothing to do with food—seeing it, smelling it, and certainly not eating it. Needless to say, my career instantly hit a road block.
In 2004, a bourgeoning food scene drew my family to Portland, Oregon. Around the same time, a series of bizarre neurological problems began, which eventually led to the discovery of my gluten intolerance. Initially, I took this news with great disappointment, before quickly recognizing my skills as a cook and embracing my new calling to teach others what I know about gluten-free food. In 2008 I approached The Oregonian with the concept of a regular “FoodDay” column, and I’ve been writing “Gluten Freedom” ever since. I also contribute to Portland’s MIX magazine, Easy Eats, Living Without, NW Palate, Prevention, and other publications as well. But my most exciting project so far is my book, The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, which was released in August 2011. Since turning my focus exclusively to developing gluten-free recipes like these, I’m rediscovering that sense of community that first intrigued me as a college freshman.
Cooking is very personal to me, and can be for you, too. Whether you cook for friends, neighbors, strangers, or, most importantly, your own family, food brings people together. Being gluten free doesn’t limit me in this regard; it opens a whole new world of ingredients. I enjoy delicious food all the time, and I hope I can help show you how to do the same.