John Mark Osborne
The first time I truly recall cooking is during highschool when I used to help my mother with the family dinner.
I was the chopper, the stirrer and the flipper. I always loved helping my mom cook cause she turned out such awesome food. Her cooking roots are southern
but she ventured into all sorts of cuisines
including Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian. She ignited a passion in me for food that blossomed when I got married. In a sense, I was forced into the job of cooking meals for the family but it was a
blessing in disguise. Deep down inside I knew I loved cooking but when it became a necessity it turned into a natural part of my day. Soon I was
making all kinds of dishes just like my mother including my signature dish Guacamole Del Rio, named after my mother Gretchen Del Rio.
For the past twenty years, I have been making a living as a database developer at my company Database Pros, working with a product
called FileMaker. In fact, this entire web site is driven by FileMaker! I first started working with FileMaker because I really
liked the product. I still like it to this day but my true passion is cooking. What I like most is the satisfied smile on a friend or family member after eating a meal I cooked.
If nobody was around, I probably wouldn't cook. In fact, I know I wouldn't cook. Luckily I have a very supportive wife who lets me know if something is good by labeling it "scrumptious".
Where Am I?
I live in Chino Hills, California with my beautiful wife Aida but I grew up in Silicon Valley. I have two children, Liza and Ryan. Both children have graduated college
but still come over often for meals at our house. In this food blog, I will be sharing some of their most requested dishes as well as friend favorites. I'll present detailed instructions
about how to achieve the best results whether it's about how to pick the right ingredient or the best way to cook something. I don't want to just give you a recipe.
I want to share with you how I achieve optimal results.
I'll have little side stories since this is a blog. I usually have a nice craft beer while I'm cooking so I'll review it along with my recipe. I might also talk about how
I discovered or created a recipe. Maybe a little anecdote about my family in relation to the recipe. There's always more than just measuring ingredients behind a recipe. Cooking
is life and love to me so I will do my best to share my experience with you.
Cooking is not Baking
When I cook, I don't measure. Measuring is for bakers in my humble opinion. While I'll give you measurements, always remember to adapt the recipe to your likes and dislikes. My sister calls it
"Johnifying" a recipe. My most common "Johnification" is doubling the garlic, just so you know. If you like a particular ingredient, don't be afraid to bump up the amount a little or even a lot. If you and your family
like it, that's all that matters. Besides, discovering something new requires experimentation.
What is the Philosophy of Cooking?
When I was in college, I was fascinated with philosophy classes and how philosophers think through the subject they are trying to prove or disprove so thoroughly. Philosophers focus on a subject like a laser
and attack it from all sides, to a degree that most people consider ridiculous. I have used the philosophical methodology throughout
my database development career to reveal advantages and disadvantages in order to choose the best solution for the problem at hand. I apply the same analytics to cooking to think through how ingredients compliment each other,
whether searing or slow cooking will achieve better results, if it is better to chop the herb finely or coarsely and so on. I think through every process of a meal in my head, sometimes before, sometimes during the preparation, often incorrectly but
always afterwards to achieve a better result the next time. I am never satisfied with a dish no matter how much my friends and family praise it. I believe it can always be better.
Fresh ingredients are the first step to creating great food. I go as far as to buy my perishables each day as I need them so I know they are as fresh as can be. It's also a good idea to become familiar with all the stores
in your area. Typically, each store has specialities that are the freshest or products you can't get elsewhere. For instance, I shop at Stater Brothers for meats and general ingredients. Costco is also good for meats
but they have so many high quality ingredients that I buy whatever I can there as long as I can use the bulk quantity. I also like Fresh & Easy for their cheeses and speciality items, Trader Joe's for organic and speciality items. Depending on what I am making,
I might visit several stores to prepare a meal.
A disorganized cook will have trouble achieving professional results. Organizing yourself in the kitchen is such an easy way to elevate your food. Organization allows you the time to think while you are cooking instead of running around the kitchen like a chicken with it's
head cut off. My grandmother
grew up on a farm and always and some of her sayings stuck with me. Basically, I'm talking about prepping your ingredients and then organizing them into containers. I place spices and herbs in pyrex ramekins and
larger items like produce and meats in bowls. Once everything is lined up and grouped according to order for the recipe, I am ready to go. But organization also includes having your pots, pans, utensils, measuring devices and whatever other tools you find useful,
located in the same drawer consistently so you can access them quickly and easily. Cooking food is as much about efficiency as it is about creativity.
I always think of the French when I think of technique. Probably the most common French technique is braising. When you are searing the meat, it is important to have a technique. While you can read about technique in a book,
it's still dependent on your environment and experience. The thickness and type of pan, your range BTUs and whether it is gas or electric and the temperature, type and thickness of the meat all contribute to the searing process. A good cook should factor
all these variables in order to achieve a perfect sear in any kitchen under any conditions. The more you cook, the better your technique will improve!
If I Could, I Would
I like to make as much stuff from scratch as possible. I try to avoid canned, premixed or overly processed foods whenever possible. But there comes a point at which you can't do everything yourself. For example,
I don't make my own chicken broth for several reasons. First, it takes too long and I work for a living outside this blog. Second, I can purchase perfectly good chicken broth from any store that has
been vacuum sealed to last for months. It doesn't make sense to make your own broth unless you work at a restaurant. My point is, spend time on the stuff that's really going to make a difference.
No Filler Recipes
I've been surfing the internet for recipes for years now and it has become clear to me that a lot of bloggers publish subpar recipes just to add more content. My goal is to publish less often but
have better tested and tasting recipes. If my family doesn't ask for it again, I won't publish it.