Since September 2004, I've hosted a "weekly" (as weekly as work has allowed, which sometimes means monthly :P) dinner for a small group of friends. It started on Wednesdays (to coincide with watching America's Next Top Model), but has since settled in to Thursday. I had just finished college and moved across the country for a job and wanted to turn some acquaintances into friends via bribing them with food :) I was also sick of cooking for just one person - even the best recipe turns loathsome after you've eaten it as leftovers for three days in a row. College friends, work friends, new friends, old friends - the group has changed throughout the years, but it's always been a great time. The focus has always been more on friends, not food, but in recent years it has become the ideal venue for trying out items from my obsessive recipe collection.
The very first dinner was sandwiches. At least I arranged the deli meat fancily on a platter :) I would say I was a competent cook at the time, but I had grown up as a very picky eater and didn't have much imagination about food. My college friends still give me a hard time about ordering nothing but chicken fingers in restaurants. I'd been helping out with the family cooking since I was tall enough to reach the counter when standing on a chair (Dad's idea!), but I had just spent four years with an all-you-can-eat dining plan in a dorm. No cooking required, unless you count microwave popcorn or Easy Mac.
I don't remember much of what I cooked the first year. However, I distinctly remember the turning point in September 2005 -- my friend X, original dinner member who has since sadly moved away, requested that I make Rachel Ray's Italian Mac and Cheese. I don't remember how this came about and unfortunately deleted my work email archives and don't have the original email, but it was definitely something new -- the food being served as a project for the night, an event in and of itself. It was a success and something about the whole thing caught my fancy. I don't remember if I had already been watching "30 Minute Meals" at the time, but I started tuning in and bought some RR cookbooks. Dinners for a while after that were mainly taken from RR's collection, and then I slowly discovered the world of food blogs and became more and more ambitious in my cooking.
I'm starting this blog so I can keep track of the menus I make weekly and some notes about how the recipes turned out. I'm an engineer by profession and thought process, so I generally faithfully follow recipes and don't make up my own (so this won't be a traditional "food blog" with recipes per se). Although I'm more creative in the recipes I choose to eat, I'm not very creative in how I cook them :)
I'll close with my Grandma's version of "Bon Appetit" -- at the start of any meal, she used to say "this is living". Enjoy!