For most of my life I’ve loved to read and to make stuff. My mother says I taught myself to read when I was 4, and I never looked back. I also liked fooling around in the kitchen, but my mother wasn’t really into cooking, so I learned a lot of that on my own, too. My sister and I had the Betty Crocker New Boys and Girls Cookbook (1965), and naturally I had to make the Enchanted Castle Cake. I learned how to bake bread when I was 14, and I bought a copy of the Joy of Cooking when I was 17. My aunt and uncle gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my 19th birthday, and the first thing I made was soufflé. I’ve always been more of a baker than a cook, though.
I’ve been editing nonfiction since 1984, so I make my living reading, and I’ve continued to fool around in the kitchen, mostly with baking and mostly baking sandwich bread and pie. When our niece used to visit us during her breaks from college, she’d get me to show her some cooking things (including soufflé, of course), but I kept having to tell her, “This is just how I do it. I have no idea if it’s the right way.” Finally, I took a basic cooking class, and that changed my life. After that class, I signed up for a 4-day baking class at King Arthur Flour. The day Michelle taught us to calculate desired dough temperature, I knew I was really a baker. Now I’m trying to learn, through classes and through continuing to fool around in the kitchen, how to bake more than bread and pie.