I am a doctoral student in Colorado. I did not learn to cook at my mother’s knee. For the first 36 or so years of my life, in fact, my only “cook book” was the Chinese take-out menu. Then, I got hooked on this blog. And subsequently went wild with a gift certificate in this store. I am the opposite of expert. I have never been to culinary school and my stint in the restaurant business consisted of a few weeks making herbal tea and bagging to-go salads behind the counter of a vegetarian restaurant in my college town. I cannot teach you how to sweat, sautee, reduce or poach. My food is not pretty: I do not plate, garnish or produce meat criss-crossed with a perfect tic-tac-toe board of grill marks. I am also impatient. Often, my first reaction to a recipe is: What a pain..no way. I do not think that any of this means that I have to settle for a life of TV dinners and canned soups. In fact, I try to use fresh food and make my own mixtures and ingredients whenever the hassle-to-taste ratio is the least bit favorable. And if it’s not favorable? I’d rather skip the pie recipe than purchase the crust. As they say on this show, these are my stories.