Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, September 3, 2010

A view into my world

The point to this post is to get to how my cooking style was influenced by Mexican, New Mexican and Spanish cultures and my love of those flavors.  Once the book is done, my family and friends will see these influences in almost everything I make.

My friends and family know that I love anything Southwestern / Mexican / South American and Spanish.  The food and culture have been great influences in my later life.  This began when I was hired as a Medicare Reimbursement Specialist for, what was, one of the largest healthcare providers in the US.  One of my first assignments was to travel to Albuquerque for training.  This was where the home office of the company was.  Remember, that I was from the Boston area at the time and had only travelled in New England, New York state and eastern Canada.

Back in the early 1990's, I flew from Boston to Dallas and then on to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  When I got off the plane in Albuquerque, I knew that I was home and my life was forever changed.  This was one of 3 experiences that, for lack of a better term, rocked my world in a very positive way.  I spent several completely glorious days in a place that became what I call the "home of my heart".   I travelled back to Albuquerque every month for 18 months with this job.  I eventually moved to Dallas, it was the only place I would agree to move to that my boss suggested.  Unfortunately, after those 18 months, my division was dissolved and we were all laid off.  So, there I was with only 2 friends in Dallas.  I could have moved back to New England, but I did not call Boston home any more.  So, I stayed in Dallas and met my husband a few months after I stopped traveling.

Moving to Dallas.....I was 37 when I moved to Dallas.  I didn't know anyone, but I had to be in Dallas, so I packed up all my belongings, hired a mover, got in my car and drove.  As I crossed the Massachusetts border into Conneticut, I spoke these words out loud, "My new life is starting and my husband is waiting for me".  I believed that with all of my heart and soul.  So, with that thought tucked neatly away, I arrived in Dallas 33 1/2 hours later.  Once I moved, I became who I was meant to be....this is a very long story for another time.

Anyway, I worked as a consultant for another 18 months.  Once I was laid off, I found a job with a pharmacy and worked for a couple of months with them.  This proved to be a very dissatisfying position for me and I went to work at a local hospital.  In October of 1997, I got an urge to pick up a free local news paper.  I had not picked up this particular paper for about 6 months, but I had to have that week's edition.  I had to go to 4 stores to find a paper.  When I did find one, it was the last one in the rack.  I took it home on a Wednesday, and didn't read it until Friday, this happened to be Halloween.  Now, I have to say up front that I read the personals, but I read them for fun.....really....awe, come on, give a girl a break!

I started reading and there was this one ad the kept getting my attention.  I tried to read beyond the ad, but it kept jumping up off the page at me.  So I gave in and read it again...and again...and again...and - you get the point.  I called the ad.  My first reaction was, oh yeah, this is real.  So I went back to reading the ads and it still would not leave me alone.  I ended up calling the ad and leaving a message on Halloween night.  It was Jason....sweet sigh...

He called me back 2 days later, we met face to face 2 days after that.  Jason had 6 responses to his ad, had 6 dates set up, but I was the first woman that he met.  We met face to face on Tuesday, November 4, 1997 and have been together ever since.  He cancelled the 5 other dates that he had set up.  We dated for 2 years and got married on October 30, 1999 in Sedona, Arizona.

Jason is an artist.  His work is incredible, as you will see.  He had been traveling with his family to Sedona and the southwest for years and had a love of that area.  Jason is one of those men that has an "old soul".  He probably could have lived very comfortably as a cowboy in the 1800's who would come in from the range for a drink, a bath and a lay.  He loves southwestern and Mexican food.  If it is spicy, he will eat it.

He was the one that I began to stretch my culinary skills for.  But in that process, I discovered an incredible affinity for cooking and being creative in the kitchen.  I found myself changing and growing again.

So, here are a few images from my home.  This is the corner of the kitchen where the cook-top resides and where my culinary adventures occur.

This is my purple kitchen....yes, it is purple.  This is the corner opposite from the cook-top.  The cabinets are yellow, the counter tops are a jade green granite, the walls and ceiling are purple, and the tile on the backsplash ties the saltillo tile floor, the cabinets and the green counter top together.  The purple is just because I can.

This is a picture of Jason with one of his paintings at a local art show.

So, now you know where my main influences for cooking come from.

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