Why 'Peel the Garlic'?
Peeling garlic is a tedious task. Sometimes the skin peels off easily, but more often than not, removing the skin involves scraping, picking, and whittling with a knife or a fingernail. Once the skin is off, you are left with a naked clove and a small pile of crêpe paper-like flakes that scatter if you exhale too quickly. Sprinkling garlic powder from a container or scooping minced garlic from a jar is much easier and doesn't leave a permanently pungent scent on your fingertips. The flavor of that fresh garlic though, is unbeatable. The effort it takes to peel a clove or two is worth it to me and represents my cooking philosophy. Spending time in the kitchen rejuvenates me. The process of dedicating time to a culinary product that is so temporary, that will be consumed at the table in one sitting, has an artistic quality to it that inspires me to put on my apron and fire up the stovetop every single day.
While I appreciate the ease that comes along with a speedy meal, my favorite culinary experiences often involve hours of involvement and attention to detail. Long drawn-out recipes aren't the norm on Peel the Garlic, but I just want you to be aware that I don't advertise quick and convenient dishes, as speed is not my priority. Cooking one-pot meals with pre-chopped ingredients in ten minutes is fine and sometimes necessary when things get busy, but my belief is that everyone should regularly find time to set aside for cooking and appreciating food either alone or with friends and family. It's okay to slow down and peel the garlic.
Growing up an oldest child I would create masterpieces when babysitting my siblings. Working from inspiration, I strategically added chocolate syrup, honey, vanilla ice cream, sugar, whipped cream, strawberry milk, and sprinkles to the blender for the ultimate milkshake. My siblings praised me and my parents never knew.
Years later I was hired at a local grocery store as their official “salsa maker.” I spent hours dicing bell peppers, blending tomatoes, developing the perfect guacamole, and taste testing. Lots of taste testing. During that job I fell deeply in love with food preparation.
Today I don’t make so many milkshakes (don’t worry, that skill is not lost). What I do make is influenced by my everyday experiences and interactions. That sounds vague and cliché so let me explain.
Recently a friend and I ate at a Syrian restaurant. We ordered a meze platter. The food was great, but one dish really caught my attention. It was a sour dip made from roasted eggplant and I absolutely loved it, so I took mental notes. Currently I’m experimenting with eggplant roasting techniques to come up with a dip similar to the one I tried.
Sometimes it’s an experience like the one I just mentioned, sometimes it’s a conversation, and sometimes it’s going for a walk around town that grants me a spark of culinary creativity.
I am also greatly influenced by where I live. Visiting a location as a tourist and trying the local cuisine is awesome, but living somewhere, spending hours in the neighborhood grocery stores, and eating the same meals again and again creates a deep connection with the regional food that is not as easy to obtain in just a couple weeks.
I grew up in the American South and then lived in the Western United States. Additionally I have spent several years living in South America and most recently Europe. Each location has fueled my culinary creativity and has shaped my approach to how I interact with food. A great deal of my recipes are based on the relationships I formed with food while living in specific locations.
Why did I make a recipe blog?
Cooking is Awesome
I don't have much more to say about this one. I love cooking. I love web development. A recipe blog is the perfect combination.
Over the past couple years I have been learning web development full-time by following an open-source curriculum called The Odin Project. This recipe blog acts as a personal capstone project that allows me to implement both my front-end and back-end development skills.
The site you are viewing is built with Gatsby and deployed with Netlify. My administrative interface was built with Create React App and also deployed with Netlify. I built the API for Peel the Garlic using Node.js and Serverless. My database is hosted on MongoDB. I use AWS to host my recipe photographs and my API.
To Improve the Cooking Experience
Sometimes when viewing recipe blogs I imagine what the ideal online recipe experience would be like. Peel the Garlic attempts to provide the following:
1) Accessibility: quantities listed in both weight and volume
While living in France I purchased a few cookbooks. Excited to test my French and cook something new, I cracked open the book, selected a recipe, and looked at the list of ingredients. Immediately I noticed that the quantity of most items was indicated by weight in grams. I went to the store, purchased a kitchen scale, and it has since been a permanent feature on my kitchen counter. While I agree that exact measurements are usually not as vital in cooking as in baking, I love being able to place a bowl on the scale and add a certain weight of each ingredient without having to measure by volume with cups or spoons.
I want my recipes to be accessible to an international audience, so I attempt to indicate ingredient quantities using both volume and weight. I have selected to use the Metric system as the primary unit in my recipes.
2) Visibility: see ingredients and steps simultaneously
The worst is when you come to the step in the recipe that says, “now add the oil, the nuts, and all the spices except for cumin" and then have to scroll back up the page to remember how much of each ingredient is needed. Even worse is when you then have to scroll back down the page and find again the step you had just read. For this reason I have designed my recipe pages in a way that allows you to visibly mark your progress through the lists of ingredients and steps. Your progress will be saved in your browser and will allow you to return to the page at a later time to continue where you left off. Additionally, the list of ingredients will remain fixed as a side column on the page for display screens that are tablet-sized and larger.