Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, 37 Cooks! We are ONE!

It’s our birthday! Or some would say it’s our anniversary! Perhaps all but me would say it’s our anniversary, but 37 Cooks is like a baby to me so I’m sticking with birthday! We are one. One year old and still going, indeed thriving. It’s hard to believe, considering where we came from.

Some of you already know our story but let’s talk about it for a minute. We started because Willie and I received 2 gallons of Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning that we ended up putting on our storage shelving in the basement, beside our extra refrigerator, and with the Ziploc bags, paper towels, and toilet paper...basically all of the stuff we buy at Costco and don’t have room for in the pantry in the kitchen. That area's called Downstairs Costco in our house.

We filled two spice jars of the hot and original for our spice rack and despite our consistent use of it, we still had a ton of Cajun seasoning in the basement. I’m not a fan of clutter and the two gallon jars were beginning to feel that way to me. The first Christmas after we received them, I sent jars of it to my family for stocking presents. That didn’t make a dent in those giant gallon jars! So I began to fret. And ruminate!

And one day, BOOOM! It hit me! I could offer to send it to our cooking friends and in exchange they would post pictures of what they cooked with it! I talked it over with Willie and he gave the go-ahead to pay the shipping and handling lol. 35 people accepted the challenge and we had so much fun! After the pretty pictures and delicious sounding recipes starting rolling in I said, hey, why don’t I start a blog so we can see what we’ve created and be able to look back on it?! The crowds roared! Yes, do it!

Eventually those 35 cooks’ spice ran out (Willie and I make 37 you see, and our two gallons did not run out. Today we still have about 1/3 of the spice in each gallon jar…want some?) I told the cooks our venture was drawing to a conclusion. NO, they said! Let’s keep going!

We came up with the name 37 Cooks, a perfect fit for us, and I worked for several weeks around the clock on a plan to make this group have a chance of running smoothly through Facebook, with cooks from around the country and Canada. I’m still working on making it run smoothly, but we are still running! With our humble beginnings, it is so cool that we’ve had nearly 80,000 pageviews on our blog and over 500 blog posts to date. We’ve had sponsors and we have more in the wings – scheduled for the next 8 months!! Yes, that’s right! We have a waiting list for cooks to join in the fun and we have a waiting list for sponsors to challenge our cooks! It’s exciting!

I asked the cooks if they have any comments to share with you, our readers, on our first birthday and this is what they said. Enjoy! Bon Appetit! And thank you for reading! Oh, and Happy Birthday, Baby! I love you! ~Sandra

Tracy: My best memory was meeting new friends at the Wine Dive in West Palm Beach.

Maurita: A great community! Good cooks sharing successes and failures, and constantly challenging each other.

Chris: I love how I'm challenged on a personal level in the kitchen, yet how this group works together to provide support and encouragement to one another. It's also an honor to be associated with such a diverse and knowledgable "family". I learn something new almost every day!

Diana: Well, I've enjoyed being inspired and awed by my fellow cooks this past year. In the very near future, I'm looking forward to traveling from Syracuse, NY to Houston, TX, where my culinary worlds will collide. I will get to meet some of the 37 Cooks in person for the first time, and also get to meet and make pizza with some pizza obsessed folks, who I've also never met. It's a double wammy of firsts and I'm looking forward to some great company, wonderful Gulf seafood, and killer Neopolitan pizza.

Louise: When we receive new ingredients from a sponsor, I feel like a whole new section of my brain is firing. A football game starts in my head and the offense and defense are heavy into it. "Sweet!" "Savory!" "Baked!" "Grilled!" "Italian!" "French!" TOUCHDOWN!!

Susan R: I baked. That is all.......

Traci: I am totally amazed at the knowledge and continuous support that comes from 37Cooks. The diversity yet togetherness in one group is heartwarming and a breath of fresh air. We are all separate individuals but with a very wonderful common goal---TO COOK!

Matt: I feel like we've all become a family in the last year,and had a freakin blast doin it. I can't wait for an opportunity to meet some of yous guys!!

Linda: All I will say is Donuts & Anchovies, only for the brave. Linda, Tracy & Aimee!

Willie: I loved The Wine Dive event!

Sandra: There was a moment at The Wine Dive event when Willie and I looked at each other with the same thought in our head…look what we started! We’re sentimental people, so there were a few tears shed, hugs and kisses. It’s a vivid memory for me. We also loved going to Luke’s meat market in Ville Platte, LA. And hanging out with Jack Walker of Slap Ya Mama in New Orleans and gleaning as much social media knowledge as possible! And best of all, developing personal relationships with every cook in our group. I find all of them very interesting people and I’ve learned a lot from each and every single one of them. Oh, and being on tv! That was scary! Gosh, I could go on and on and on! So many memories in this short year that actually seems like much longer!

Luke: Best memory is being invited to be one of the 37C, I was very flattered, also having some of our tasso being cooked at the Wine Dive Challenge and being on the menu was pretty awesome! I learned that camera phones do not do justice to the greatness on the plate in front of it. I look forward to getting a camera lol and getting out of my cooking comfort zone. It's tough!! Rice and gravy/smoked meats is pretty much all we do!!! #Cajunproblems

Susan W: One of the best things that has come out of being a part of 37 Cooks is that my husband and son both say they see me growing as a cook. I love that they notice, and they love being my guinea pigs for some of my crazy experiments! Being a part of 37 has been so much fun. I can ask questions and get help when I need it, I love seeing what everyone is cooking, and I've made some new friends. All of us have also had the opportunity to cook with some wonderful ingredients sent to us by our very generous sponsors, and it's been just plain fun!

Linda: I have loved the products that we have been introduced to. I use Slap Ya Mama in everything, still using Teet's Smoked Meats (just placed a big order and Luke is creating a special brisket for me). Love the new things Marx Foods introduced me to, especially the dill & fennel pollen. I can't say enough good things about Sciabica Olive Oil. I also learned a lot about cooking with wine with The Wine Dive challenge. Never dreamed photographing food would become as important as cooking the dish. I'm having fun buying dishes and props to make my photos better. Last, but not least, the wonderful friends I have made.

Luke: BOOOM!

Luke: FYI, Sandra, Jack Walker used it the other day lol.

Christine: I feel lucky that I've met a group of people that love food as much as I do. it's nice to be able to talk about wanting to try something and not have someone put their hands around my neck....true story.

Judy: I think the people in this group are just amazing and I am constantly being inspired by them. Such a cross-section of America, with love of food and cooking as our common thread. I am honored to be part of 37 Cooks! Happy 1st Birthday Us!!!

Jennifer: Today I learned how difficult it is to photograph Popsicles before they melt. I'll write something better later... The thing I love about this group (other than having met 36 like-minded, food obsessed people) is that it motivates me to make things I normally wouldn't. I would never have thought to make a mango rum salsa until I was faced with national daiquiri day. I don't even like fruit salsas (or I didn't think I did). Having a challenge to focus on gives me an excuse to be more creative than I normally would be, so far with some delicious results!

Donna: This is an awesome group, and I'm glad to be a part of it. Happy Birthday to us!

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