For those of you who know me outside of the black and white lettering on this page, you know I don’t cook. I am actually a menace in the kitchen. I’ve started two fires in my own kitchen (a basting brush and a pot holder catching fire when I laid them on the burner. In my defense, there was no fire on the electric stove. I was used to gas stoves. Flame equals hot. No flame, no hot) and singed a pot holder in my friends’, Adam and Juan’s house. And I’m no stranger to the smell of burning flesh. I worked in a pizza restaurant during college, and those pizza ovens get hot! Then there’s just yesterday when I was making toast in mom’s oven and burned off the skin on one of my knuckles. Nope, human skin definitely does not smell like chicken!

Despite the kitchen chaos, the truth is I can make something I learned in college—the bean thing, a concoction of noodles, black beans and cheese—as well as French toast which I’ve been cooking since I was a teen. However, I lived in my last apartment for four years and barely used the kitchen. Why would I when there were perfectly good drive-thrus available just down the road? Yes, I would much prefer to make reservations than dinner. Ok, ok, old joke…

So you might be surprised to hear I’ve decided to try cooking more—and not just any recipe, but the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes. It’s kind of like a Julie & Julia thing. It all started when my bestie, Laurie (you may recall her from my St. Augustine trip where she and I came in last in the Diva 5K) bought two copies of the same book: Cooking for Jeffrey. She asked me if I knew of anyone who would like it. I said, why not me? She said it might be a bit advanced for me. But gave it to me anyway.

Too advanced? Challenge accepted!

I looked through the book, loving the stories Garten told between recipes about her relationship with her husband Jeffery. The first recipe I saw didn’t seem so hard—

But as I thumbed through the pages, browsing ingredients and instructions, I noticed there was food jargon I just didn’t understand. Yep, Laurie had a point—this book did have some advanced cooking skills required, but I was going to try it anyway. And these are the stories of my experimentation with cooking. Successes (I hope) and Failures (I’m sure).

Attempt #1: Can We Prepare the Camembert?