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    Home Columns

    Secrets from a Cooking Columnist's Journal

    I've written a cooking column for newspapers, magazines, and online publications for more than 30 years. Usually my column has been called, "Country Kitchen," and involves many topics in the field of culinary arts:

    • Cooking history
    • Personal experiences
    • Cooking with children
    • Information about various ingredients
    • Cooking collectibles
    • Old cookbooks and their recipes
    • Nutrition and healthy eating
    • Cooking from different cultures
    • Cooking on a budget
    • Seasonal recipes

    Some columnists write on one specific topic. However, I've found my readers enjoy learning about many different aspects of cooking and my editors have been agreeable to this. It also ensures that I won't run out of ideas for my columns over the years.

    One of my recent columns related some of the humorous incidents in the life of a cooking columnist. The response from readers made me realize I should do more of this.

    I'll include an excerpt below to give you some ideas for a column you could write, whether it involves cooking or some other incidents in your life.


    Excerpts From Columnist's Journal

    Recipe For Boiling Eggs

    As a cooking columnist, I'm supposed to be an expert cook and knowledgeable about all things pertaining to culinary history. My family should never experience burned meals, inedible food, nor late dinners.

    My husband never lets me forget the day I started dinner and sat down at the keyboard to write my cooking column. As I became engrossed in my research and writing, time slipped away.

    Suddenly I heard a "Pop" from the direction of the kitchen but didn't pay much attention. By the time I heard a second and third resounding noise, I rushed to the stove and was enveloped by a burned odor.

    "Never trust a cooking columnist to boil an egg," Jim tells people. There splattered over the stove and even on the ceiling above were egg white, yolk, and shells.

    I'd forgotten completely I was chief cook that night, and the eggs had boiled dry.

    New facts for my research: Eggs will explode when the water boils away. And writers' families don't always enjoy gourmet meals.


    Introducing Chili

    When I was a teenager, I took over much of the cooking in our home. My mom was busy operating a country grocery store and was delighted when I expressed a desire to try out new recipes on the family. My home economics class at school and cooking classes in 4-H had intensified my interest in cooking.

    However, I didn't want to cook solely the meat and potatoes recipes my mom did which were familiar to my family (brothers, sister, mom, dad, the hired man on our farm, and my uncle who boarded with us). I wanted to try something new.

    We'd never had chili, although I'd enjoyed it at a girlfriend's home. It looked easy to make, and was. As I sampled it, I decided it needed a dash more chili...then a dash more...perhaps another dash. Ah, that's just right!

    My uncle, who had spent some time in the Southwest during World War II pronounced it fine. He'd been wanting something different on the menu.

    As he and I sat there enjoying the meal, I noticed the peanut butter jar and bread plate making the rounds among other family members while their chili bowls remained virtually untouched.

    I finally got the message that chili, at least with that amount of powder, wouldn't become a favorite with my family. So I tried to find new ways to serve meat and potatoes.

    Copyright © 2001 Mary Emma Allen

    Mary Emma Allen is a journalist, columnist, children's writer and book author. Her many publications are listed on her Web site -- http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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