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I’ve learned a lot in the past two years. Some highlights:

1. Chicken stock doesn’t have to come from bouillon cubes.

2. Scallions are the same as green onions, but different from chives and shallots.

3. Mark Bittman is my best friend. (We may not be personally acquainted, but I do call him Marky Mark in the kitchen.)

4. Cookies are still the fastest way to anyone’s heart.

How, you might ask, did I gain these valuable insights? Two years ago, without any intention on my part, I placed myself in the perfect environment for learning to cook.

First, I moved to Seattle, a fabulous city for food. Almost everyone I know here takes it for granted that local, seasonal produce is better, and they can get it at their farmer’s market. The whole city has a pro-local/anti-chain attitude. In Capitol Hill, where I live, we just lost our last fast food joint–a lonely KFC. I’m happy to say that I couldn’t even tell you where to find a McDonald’s.

My second culinary windfall was moving into a shared house. Actually, it’s a mansion. The kitchen has four refrigerators, two stovetops, two ovens, and lots of counters. Plus, we have at least two (and probably more like ten) of every kitchen implement you could ever need. With plenty of space and tools, there was no excuse not to cook.

The best thing about the mansion, however, is the people. I can always count on one housemate or another (I have seven) wandering through the kitchen. In the beginning they were just eating my cookies, but before long I was trying new things and they were there to taste and comment. One housemate in particular is in the kitchen even more than I am. She’s an awesome cook, and I’ve learned a lot by asking her a thousand questions and running ideas by her. (Thanks, Laura!)

In about a month, I’m leaving Seattle to go to grad school in D.C. I’m afraid that the loss of the mansion, Seattle, and all my spare time will put a damper on my culinary adventures. As a grad student, I’m not going to be able to throw a dinner party any time I want to talk about food. Enter this blog. My idea is to replace my lost cooking community with a virtual one. Writing here will keep me excited about trying new things and improving my skills.

Why “Save Room for Cookies”? I’m a firm believer in dessert after dinner. I’ve been baking cookies since high school, long before I could successfully cook anything else. I love them because there are hundreds of possibilities, and they’re almost impossible to screw up. Though I plan to write about far more than cookies, I’ll be sure to include them often.

So, without further ado, let’s eat!