About the Mom Chef

I love recipes. Most Mom Chefs do. We have shelves (always plural) dedicated to cookbooks and read them as most would any fiction book. We belong to newsgroups that just send out digest after digest loaded with recipes that get put in file folders for later perusal. We have real file folders or card boxes stuffed with recipes that we’ve cut from magazines, newspapers, food containers or that have been photocopied or handwritten for us. We’re members of foodnetwork.com and epicurious.com (to name just a couple).

And, we subscribe to magazines, lots of them. Those that we don’t subscribe to, we pick up in line at grocery stores or other magazine racks.

Why I Do What I Do

What decided me to start this blog was the number of times I made recipes from magazines and the results didn’t match what was on the page. Whether it was the look of the thing, the taste or the amount that it should serve, I was surprised at how often it happened.

It made me wonder if these recipes should be tested in a regular kitchen with kids underfoot, animals prowling the room, husbands peering over shoulders and all the interruptions that the regular Mom Chef has to face.

It made me think that these folks who create the recipes in test kitchens have the advantage of having the absolute best ingredients purchased for them, have sous chefs chopping the onions, measuring out the spices and laying out everything they’ll need so the personal attention that should be given to each dish isn’t really there.

It made me wonder what would happen if a regular Mom Chef took on some of these recipes and made them in her own kitchen; one complete with child, husband, dog, telephones, doorbells and no one to help chop, measure, mix or clean up afterward.

So, I’m going to do it. I started in December of 2009 with the February issue of Gourmet Magazine. When my family started protesting against so many ‘unique’ foods and none of the ‘normal’ ones, I decided to move away from that magazine and on to another. Then I moved on to another, and another Eventually I brought in several magazines at a time for variety and fun.

Even though these and many other recipes are available on this blog, via other blogs, and the magazines’ own web sites, I very much believe in seeing the magazine in hard copy instead of just the list of ingredients and instructions online.

In most of these magazines there is so much more information, advice and commentary than can be found by viewing a recipe on the web. I guess there’s just a part of me that’s a believer in the written word, which is why I have a fairly large library of books on the shelves behind me.

I suggest that if you like these recipes, you should locate the issue of the magazine that has the dish and use it to cook by, just gleaning whatever you want from my observations. In addition to the recipes, there are usually tidbits of information that are helpful as well as sections that have step-by-step instructions, with pictures in some instances, that show you how to do certain procedures.

Who I Am

I am just a regular mom, but I’ve had the privilege to live a very international life. My heritage is Armenian, my birthplace is France, as is my father’s and my mother is Belgian. I’ve lived in Lebanon and the United States and have traveled extensively all around the world, falling in love with the cuisines of each country I visited or lived.

Standing arm in arm with me are my Hubby and Dudette, my most brutally honest critics and supporters. They chime in their opinions too, and it’s a good thing because we all have our own tastes and react to food differently (especially little Dudes and Dudettes).

While an enthusiastic grunt or unhappy growl is a typical response from Hubby (I’m kidding; he can be quite…eloquent….in his descriptions on occasion), Dudette’s reactions to the stuff I make and force her to eat are sometimes brilliant and as honest as you’ll ever find. A kid’s point of view usually is, don’t you think?

I’d love to hear from you, whether it’s to suggest a magazine, offer a word of encouragement or just to say hi. If you have questions for me, feel free to ask them, but be sure to visit my Question & Answer page first.

Just drop me an e-mail at themomchef@takingonmagazines.com.

21 Responses to About the Mom Chef

  1. seana says:

    Is this new? It's so sweet to read. Girdle ha ha. I think they call them spanx these days.

  2. Rhonda says:

    Love this page your so funny!!

  3. Jennifer Taylor Gregory says:

    Oh my. I've often thought of doing exactly doing what you are doing. I think I'd still like to and I'd love to exchange notes over it! Your blog is bookmarked!

  4. jennalynne2 says:

    Your blog is one of my favorite reads. I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. http://naileditfailedit.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/

  5. Ann says:

    I just told people on a Taste of Home thread that you are my favorite!!!

  6. Paul Jerome says:

    Do you subscribe to or otherwise read "La Cucina Italiana" ? I feel it's one of the best Italian food sources available. Having lived in Italy for years (+11), I find it enlightening as well as an accurate depiction of true Italian cooking mastery.

  7. glamorous bohemian says:

    Omgosh! I just found you, while just laying in bed with a terrible migraine, doing some surfing around for an actual recipe of satin top brownies! (I’d like to not have to use a box mix to achieve that satiny top.) Anyway, you had commented on a different bloggers post. I certainly can’t even remember what it was I found so intriguing, lol, but I just started clicking away at all of you links on your site. I swear, I think I’ve found my soul sister! Ha!

    In the last few years, I’ve been really sick & in bed the majority of the time. I started getting ridiculously addicted to cooking shows. I have long felt that cooking is much more than opening a box and adding one or two things, or that a list of ingredients and instructions. Although, I also have shelves of cookbooks and binders of recipes, some from family, friends, packages, magazines. My mother was a fabulous cook, courtesy of my Gramma Rose, who cooked on the river boats, for years, after her 8 children grew older and she was a widow and needed more income. My most treasured is one I received as a newlywed gift from my mother. She took the time to find & rewrite all of our families old beloved recipes on index cards. She added in tons of cooking, cleaning and household tips as well. It’s beautiful, she even decorated the very LARGE binder!

    But, like you, I set out on a similar goal, since there’s little I’ve been able to do, at least I could be prepared to really do some fabulous cooking, as soon as I’m able. So I started watching & writing, and rewinding and writing EVERY SINGLE DETAIL from the chef on TV! Let me tell you, Alton Browns shows makes PAGES of writing! I now have several “chef books” to pass down some day! My husband was telling my brother how I might “have a problem”, he was poking fun at me. Then my brother tells me, “You know you can just pull them up online and print them out, right?” He didn’t get it, lol, I wanted every little tidbit of information.

    Anyway, your website and blog is very refreshing. I love how it’s done and that you have had a purpose. GREAT JOB!

    Keep up the good work!

    Jilldawn

    • Hi Jilldawn,

      I don't know why your note didn't get to me via e-mail, but I'm so glad I found it now. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and tell me your story. Your gramma sounds like an amazing woman. What a cool legacy she left you. Your mom too. That book is definitely a labor of love!

      I hope that your migraines are better these days and that you're able to get out and about. Truly I am. My mom used to suffer those and they lasted for days. I haven't heard of her having one recently, but since she has fibro myalgia now, I don't think it was much of a trade-off. I'm so glad that what I write makes you smile sometime. I tend to forget that the comments I'm leaving on my other blogger-friends' pages might be seen by others (eek). They get my bizarre sense of humor. I'm glad you do too.

      I wish I could get a peek at that Alton Brown binder. He and Mario Batali are two of my all-time favorites!

      Drop me a line once in a while and let me know how things are going, ok?

      Christiane

  8. Dash says:

    Christiane,

    Your recettes are formidable! Bet you must have at least as many cooking magazines as I do. And our backgrounds are very similar. Including le Liban, la France, etc.
    Going to follow your blog and try out more than one of your recipes. Happy to have found your blog.

    Merci beaucoup.

    • Hi De! Thank you so much for your kind words. I think it's amazing that you and I have so much in common, especially where we both lived. And yes, I do have a big collection of cooking magazines. As I go through them each month, they become friends and there's no way I can get rid of them when I'm done. Besides, they all still have quite a few tabs in them, so there are many recipes still waiting to be made. I look forward to seeing you around here!

  9. elfhaven13 says:

    I love your blog and I was like you. Why does my recipe say it makes 24 when I had about 50 and so on? It never matches and the seasonings are usually always off. I add more vanilla than it ever calls for and I never have enough buttercream to frost the entire cake. I had saw your site one time before and lost it but now I am hanging in there with you! I have a gazillion magazines and almost 900 cookbooks, no kidding. When you are as old as I am you have lots of time to acquire right? I mean I can't pass them up. I am totally addicted to cookbooks and sparkling sugar. Have a great weekend! Come by and visit my blog, I do cookbook reviews too. I buy them, I use them and then I talk about them. I was a born baker!

    • Oh, I know, I know! The one that bothers me is when the top of a casserole is all nice and toasted but it doesn't come out that way when I try it! If you're gonna broil the thing for a minute or so before snapping a shot, tell us to do it too. 900 cookbooks? I have a couple dozen. Then again, with how many magazines, I go through, there's no way I'd have time to add cookbooks to the mix.

  10. April E. Sontag says:

    Dear Mom Chef,
    I just recently found your blog and love it. I have never been one to try new recipes for fear I would not like them or that they just looked like so much work. I have been retired now for several years (I am 69) and although I have fibro myalgia, have had multiple back surgeries but still have severe back pain, I still love to cook. When I am up to it. I want to try some new thinks now and have tried several recently that you prepare ahead, freeze, then all you have to do is defrost and put in the crock pot to cook. They have turned out wonderful. So I am now even more willing and being encouraged by my loving husband to continue searching and trying new things.
    I am like Dudette, in that I don't care for things that are too spicy so I loved you note that you were going to have to change a recipe so that it would not be too spicy the for Dudette the next time you made it. I helped me to make it so that I would enjoy it as well as my husband. Thank you for all your research, reading and searching for recipes to try. We do appreciate it.

    • Hi April. I'm so sorry about your chronic pain! My mom has fibro myalgia so I understand that, but can't imagine that pain coupled with the back issues. Kudos to you for trying new things. I'm pretty proud of my family's willingness to go along with all these odd new things that I make.

  11. Patti Bilezikian says:

    Hey Christiane,
    I haven't spoken to you in a while. We have a lot to catch up on. We are moving into our new house next week, and are looking forward to hosting Christmas this year, maybe you guys could make it up here before Dudette is married. Say hi to your family for me.
    Patti

  12. Sonya says:

    I love your blog!!! I have been cooking my way through my cookbooks and cooking magazines, too, except that I'm limiting the number I have and trying to make every recipe. Your Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated posts caught my eye because I have 6-7 issues each of those. Anyway, I love your blog and have enjoyed reading many posts in the last few days!

    P.S. This is totally random, but I wanted to share this with a foodie and thought of you and your readers. This is an amazing youtube video (not mine or any association to me) that has great cooking and baking footage from a Roman bakery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OStb8ac3KSE or just do a you tube search for "Forno Campo de' Fiori." Totally random, but if you love to cook and bake, it's really fun to watch.

    • Hi Sonya! Thanks so much for your kind words. :) Here's the truth … I fully intended to delete the video because I generally don't allow links in the comments (what's to stop someone from sending my readers to an infected page, after all), but just to check it out, I went to youtube and watched the video, and couldn't stop watching. You're right, it's AWESOME. Now I'm drooling and wanting to head to Rome for lunch. Thanks so much for sharing it with me and ToM readers! ~ Christiane




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