Four hours. Four hours of staring at the same pieces of information, doing everything in my ability to cement the facts and information into my knowledge base. Alas, potassium feldspar, granite and gneiss are only so interesting and my ability to focus was fading fast.
I was studying for my physical geology final exam and had been for many hours when my mind began to wander, as “studying” minds do, to anything that was not related to the material I was studying. Across the muted television I saw a headline on the huge jackpot that was up for grabs that night. And I was hungry.
My brain, in some kind of anti-studying survival instinct, conjured an idea to incorporate food into a lottery system. A system that would force creativity and ingenuity as well as add recipes to my repertoire. And after hammering out some details in haste, the Culinary Lottery was born.
This was in December of 2013. And here I sit, a year and three weeks after my first post, writing the last post.
It may not seem like much, this blog ending. After all, in the grand scheme of things, blogs are to the world of writing what mime is to the world of comedy. But it has meant a great deal to me. All it takes is for me to look back on this past year and it becomes obvious just how much my life has changed.
When I began this blog, I was just another cook slowly trudging through collegiate classes. Now I have a degree in journalism.
When I began this blog, I was living at my parent’s house. Now, thanks to perhaps the most giving person I’ve ever met, my Aunt Pam, Melanie and I have a wonderful, perfect home to ourselves.
When I began this blog, Melanie was only my girlfriend, and only once had I even considered that we would one day marry. Now, she is my fiancé.
When I began this blog, I loved cooking in restaurants. Now, there is nothing I want more than to leave them and begin my journalism career.
And when I began this blog, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
And that’s not meant in a negative way. Every dish seems to hold a memory. There is the grapefruit dessert soup I attempted to make that I can say, without a momentary reconsideration, is the worst thing I have ever tasted. There was the disaster of trying to grill leeks in what was considered one of the windiest days in Georgia history, leading to a bread that had the taste and consistency of, well, potassium feldspar.
But most of the dishes were good, and about a dozen or so were absolutely phenomenal. The short rib lasagna for the ricotta post. The radicchio and rib-eye salad for the radicchio post. The rice for the Serrano post. The beef pot pie for red wine. The blackberry and watermelon salad for blackberries. The chicken thighs with peanut butter sauce for the peanut post. Oh my god was that one good.
And now, every time I make these dishes again, I will look back to my life as it was during the course of this blog. That’s the best aspect of food. It takes us back to places, people and experiences that no other aspect of our lives can. I’ll be able to look back at each of these meals and immediately be able to conjure up the facts of where I was, who I was with and how good the meal was. And one meal, the chicken and fresh pasta dish with raspberry beurre blanc, is the last memory I have of my friend David.
This was intended to be a food blog, but I’m sure you noticed I never really talked much about food. That’s because I realized my vocabulary of culinary-related adjectives only goes so far. That, and I think it’s boring to just talk about food, especially for 144 posts. But in the end, this was a food blog, so in what is typical fashion for this experiment, I shall leave any talks of food short and straightforward.
Many dishes I have created for this blog could be considered hoity-toity. Some were everyday fare with a misdirection of some sort. But if there is anything I’ve learned from the previous 143 dishes, most of the time, simplistic is the way to go.
And that is why for the last post there shall be no fanfare, no grandiose dish that you’d see on the cover of a food-porn magazine. No, grandiose and elaborate it is not, but it is perhaps my favorite thing to eat, and it’s the first thing I ever learned to cook; a grilled cheese.
And thus ends this fantastic experiment, but perhaps it is the start of another…one that somehow utilizes 144 numbered ping-pong balls…
Monterrey Jack and Jalapeno Grilled Cheese
-2 ½ thick slices of roasted garlic loaf
-Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
-2 tbsp. cream cheese
-1 jalapeno, seeded and half-mooned
Butter bread, add cheeses, add jalapeno, season with salt and pepper. Grill it and enjoy…like I needed to tell you how to make a grilled cheese.
I’d like to thank some people for sticking with me through this blog.
First off, I’d like to thank my family.
My mother-I’d like to thank my mother for putting up with me constantly making fun of her cooking throughout the course of this blog. Also, for having to endure many of the dishes I created for this blog, which more often than not, were, according to her, “too spicy.”
My father- My father offered help every time he was around when I was cooking for this blog. Though I don’t think I ever took his help considering I’m a bit of a control freak in the kitchen. But I can’t thank him enough for his offers of help, and having to endure hearing my mom complain of my food being “too spicy” (cheap-shot).
My brothers, Brett and Connor- I’d like to thank my brothers for following this blog and showing a genuine interest in it, even though they have about as much of an interest in cooking as I have in hair-care products, of which they both have what seems like an unnatural interest.
My Aunt Pam- As mentioned earlier, I cannot thank my Aunt Pam enough for letting me rent her wonderful second home where much of the dishes for this blog were created. Little does she know she’s going to have to bulldoze it to get me to leave.
My Aunt Jeannie- My Aunt Jeannie made me realize that I was absolutely and totally inept at taking pictures. Thanks to her advice, I started to pay more attention to the photographic aspects of this blog. I’m still terrible at photography, but at least I’ve gotten somewhat better.
Friends-I’d like to thank all my friends who read this blog and gave me input, even if that input didn’t amount to more than “Hey man, I like the blog.”
All other readers- Thank you for your “likes,” your links to this blog, your comments and your interest. If not for that, I would have never made it to post 144.
Finally, I would like to thank Melanie-Melanie has been with me throughout the entire course of this blog and has eaten almost every dish I created, good, bad and ugly. She gave me many of the ideas for the dishes I created and always gave me her honest opinion, again, good, bad or ugly. I am so happy that we are now engaged. Thanks for putting up with me and this blog. I love you.