I seem to be one of the few foodies in the world who DIDN'T grow up with fabulous food. My mother didn't enjoy cooking, so it was just the basics - boxed mac 'n cheese, the occasional pork chop & rice casserole and a lot of KFC.
For the first 37 years of my life, I was the same. Then I moved to Texas in 2004, and two things conspired to get me into the kitchen.
First, we were REALLY broke, so we cooked at home instead of going out, and I tried making a few things from scratch, to save money.
Second, it took me 3 long months to get a job (unheard of for me!), so I had plenty of time to watch cable TV. After watching a lot of Food Network, I decided that I could do that stuff.
And so began my obsession with cooking! Now, I cook dinner from scratch most nights of the week. I have my lazy nights that involve fast food or frozen goods, but most of the time I'm trying out a new recipe. I love to try new things and try to wow my boyfriend with some fabulous new dish.
Sometimes I want to make the most complicated, esoteric things, but mostly I try to create recipes that are really delicious, yet still fast and easy enough for a busy weeknight cook.
I dream of someday going to culinary school, not to become a professional chef, but just so I can have the knowledge!
I'm not sure what to put here... I guess my biggest influence is the Internet! I am addicted to "Food Porn" sites like Tastespotting.com and Foodgawker.com, and browsing all the great recipe sites for inspiration.
Whenever I get an idea for something, it's so easy to the Web to research what others have done, or how to do a particular thing.
Maybe that's why I didn't start cooking until so late... I was waiting for the Internet!