My name is Jeannie Senko-Hall. Two years ago, my doctor told me I have celiac disease. I vividly remember cracking up in his face, and automatically saying “No!” as I was laughing. “I LOVE food! I am NOT giving up ANYTHING!” I was still giggling but I was nothing but serious. Growing up, food was my biggest passion. Before I could walk I’d be sitting at the kitchen counter watching closely as my dad prepared dinners of filet mignon, beef stroganoff, spaghetti, and many other hearty, amazing meals who’s earthy aromas could be smelt from the backyard. As soon as that Whitney Houston record went on in the living room, the Jim Beam on the rocks was poured and my dad was washing his hands, I knew “the pot was on!” Well, my dad would say that too every time we were ready.
For some time I quietly watched him cook. He didn’t know it but I analyzed every spice he chose; every single ingredient he selected. He’d go from spice to spice sniffing their aromas before deciding what to add. And no, he never once opened a cookbook and we did not own any tablespoons or measuring cups. He grabbed the fresh herbs from the refrigerator, rubbed them through his fingers to release their oils, and held his hands up to my nose. “Do you smell that!?” Oh I was in heaven. Shortly thereafter I became his sous chef and learned how to use my own intuitive senses for what went into our meals. Eventually, I was designated certain side-dishes of our meals where I got to work independently and secretively until revealing my final product. Usually the final product was vibrant and tasty, sometimes it was awful. Rarely it was inedible. Always, though, it was absolutely beautiful and mouth-watering.
I started making our family dinners when I was about five. My imagination and creativity whipped me around the kitchen like a lightening rod. I’d be throwing so many different tastes and textures into my meals that my senses were always three steps ahead of me and my crappy motor coordination (it happens when you eat what you’re allergic to). Flank steaks stuffed with spinach, garlic, feta and parmesan; home-made dough stuffed with cheesy artichoke stuffing…And the presentation…the presentation!!!!!! Every tomato slice was precisely placed on the fresh bed of greens and herbs.
So I think you get the picture. From the very beginning, I had a love relationship with food. Being told that I was literally intoxicated by the one thing that I loved was like a knife to my heart and something I’d surely have to grieve. To my surprise, however, my gluten-free journey ended up NOT being something that my taste buds and senses had to miss out on. Instead, off I went exploring fresh foods and tastes that drove me wild. Imagine….fresh butter from the top of organic cream. Virgin olive oil that is so glorious to your tongue that you wouldn’t dare cooking it. Raw honey from bees fed on lavender drizzled on paper-thin rice crackers with sharp cheese and rosemary. Not only did I learn how to make literally everything I ever loved (pasta, cookies, cake, etc) in an even yummier version, but I opened up my horizon for more and more tastes that took me to even higher peaks than ever before.
So that leads me to this blog. I hope to have a place where my tastes can talk and share their stories. I will share my exploration of amazing foods, what I did with them, how I did it, and of course share lots of pictures of beautiful meals. I hope that when reading this, your senses will walk with me through the tastes, experiences, visualizations and memories that we are so blessed to have.