I've never had a high tolerance for nonsense, so imagine what it was like to have to go gluten free.  You mean, I can't grab a slice of pizza from the corner spot between work and class?  You mean, I have to go to a health food store to buy flour?  And that's the only way to stop feeling like a garbage dump?  Ay, dios mio.

However, I have an extreme penchant for being challenged, so if I have to eat gluten free, you better believe I'm going to try to do it as awesomely as possible. At first, I relied a lot on other people's gluten free web recipes to get me through, but eventually grew tired of hearing all the rest about the explosive intestinal problems (I get enough of that in my profession) and dramatic battles against the evil Gluten.  Celiac, general gluten intolerance, and gluten/wheat allergies are serious, very real, and people have suffered from them unknowingly for years.  But in my own blog space, to suit my own personality, we're going to talk less about my private weeping and internal organs and more about the food: easily-accessible, practical, even fun ideas.  Less General Hospital, more Scrubs.  I don't think living gluten free has to be so precious, either, even though it definitely can be made to look pretty and taste good.

If your info requirement hasn't been satisfied, I'll share a little more.  I've lived in NYC for just over a decade, only regrettably for about the past three years.  My kitchen has possibly the worst layout and least counter space for someone who enjoys or even bothers to cook, including a My-First-Refrigerator and a stove that's smaller than my last microwave, so that's a drag.  However, I soothe the pain with a 5-quart artisan Kitchen Aid stand mixer (won in a magazine essay contest), an 11-cup Cuisinart food processor (bought for me as the best surprise gift ever), a reliably great rice cooker ($13 from the now-extinct El Mundo variety store), a 5-quart Crock Pot ($18 on mega-sale plus a coupon from Bed, Bath, and Beyond), and a Cuisinart ice cream maker (purchased with a gift card from my former coworkers on Amazon).  In spite of its size, I have the best-outfitted $31 kitchen of all time.

I don't use a microwave, firstly because I don't have room for one unless it goes in the bathroom, but also because of the questionable health factors.  Everything a microwave can do, a range and oven can do - certainly not as fast.  Eventually I'll get to talking about my essential kitchen items in future blog posts, but I couldn't work without my wooden-handled butcher knife, a vegetable steamer, a basic set of stainless steel sautee and sauce pans, and a pair of stainless tongs.

My propensity for cooking has to have come from my family and general upbringing. One side is Italian-American, so duh, and the other is a mixed Irish/Dutch/Penna Dutch background, so also duh.  My mom and grandmother have certain recipes that are so sacredly delicious that I stopped trying to perfect them long ago.  Junior high provided an awesome home economics class where I learned the art of baking, cooking with nutrition in mind, and sewing (still have a pillow I quilted and a drawstring bag I made in the seventh grade).  Watching my slightly OCD home ec teacher painstakingly spoon and level each scoop of flour from her perfectly-labeled glass storage jars opened a trapdoor to a world where science, food, and creativity work together to create unique ways to nourish people.  I was hooked.

When I moved to NYC, however, the most exotic ethnic foods I ate were Italian and Tex-Mex.  I slowly expanded my palate over time to appreciate Japanese, French, Korean, actual Latin American and actual Chinese, Middle Eastern, Thai, Greek, and Indian...especially Indian.  In terms of cooking attempts, I cook American, Italian, and Latin food regularly, Chinese and Thai when I can get the proper ingredients, and occasionally Middle Eastern and Indian.  There was one successful attempt at bibimbap and one attempt at sushi that left a mark, though I've been working up the nerve to try again.  Sometimes, I make weird combos that are impossible to classify, and I don't mean that in a special way.  Tackling different ethnic foods is definitely a way to keep cooking interesting, although there needs to be smart gluten free adaptation in a lot of cases.  At the end of the day, I like to prepare and eat healthy-ish foods that I enjoy, and maybe I'll branch out a little if boredom strikes.

My social security number is...KIDDING.  On to the blog, which I hope is much more interesting.