About Valerie, Creg, and the Rents

Life gets busy, but it shouldn’t be too busy for your passions. Food is one of mine. Food and dancing. But this is about food. You hear many stories about people who learned to cook from their mothers and grandmothers. Not the case for me (with the exception of risotto, which I did learn from my Italian grandmother!). My Argentine mom never wanted me in the kitchen because I was in the way. I did learn to make scrambled eggs as a kid, but that was about it. It was only when I moved out at the age of 16, that I realized I missed my mom’s cooking and had no idea how to make the foods that I grew up loving. So I asked her for recipes. She would send me recipes that were half in Spanish and half in English, half in metric measurements and half in American “Imperial” measurements.

I was able to figure most of them out, but turned to PBS for help. I had always loved watching Julia Child, and then also discovered Jacques Pepin. I quickly became a chef groupie, driving all the way to San Mateo for one of his book signings. He was so approachable and nice, and his recipes were always spot on. I poured over his book Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques. I would tape (yes, on VCR) his TV show, then cook recipes from it with the cookbook open, and the video playing. My apartment was very small, so I could see the TV from my kitchen. One time when I met him at a KQED dinner, I told him that he taught me how to cook, and he replied “oh, that’s a great responsibility”. Later I “discovered” Lidia Bastianich, and even volunteered to answer phones for a pledge drive because she was going to be there, in person, cooking and talking! And yes, I did get to speak with her, in Italian. She’s from the same region as the Italian side of my family, so it was a real thrill for me. I love her approach of elevating the simplest of ingredients in the true Italian way.

So, after years of learning by watching, reading, and doing, and taking some classes here and there (mostly at Tante Marie in San Francisco), I became pretty good at this cooking stuff. Even good enough to share my knowledge through teaching a meetup group. I love showing people how easy it can be to make your own delicious meals and not rely on packaged junk.

In May of 2013 (May 22nd to be exact), with the help of my boyfriend Creg, I moved my parents from the suburbs of DC to our new duplex in San Rafael, CA. To say it was a bit of a culture shock for all of us would be an understatement! Earlier that month, Creg and I had moved our own things to San Rafael from our apartment in San Francisco, then got on a plane and packed up their house. Later that month, Creg proposed, so we had a new family to get used to and a wedding to plan. On top of all of that, I decided to get a job closer to home – what’s one more change? Creg and I were married in June of 2014, and now that we’re old married folks, we have settled into a nice routine, cooking dinner for the “rents” as we call them, 5 or 6 nights a week. I’m happy to be able to share those meals with you.