I started cooking at 13 when my mom decided to order Thanksgiving dinner to go. In college, in an apartment sublet from a teacher on leave, I made green bean soup via Mollie Katzen, and discovered that feeding myself real food fed more than my body. Fast forward through Silver Palate, Laurie Colwin (la cuisine de la slobbe raffinee!!), Judy Rogers, meshing careers (dancing and teaching dance), a husband, a move to Oakland, two kids, five chickens, two cats, a snake, a guinea pig, and some deep-seated need to have big gatherings. On bad days, I imagine the menu with all the pets on it. Thankfully, I don't have many bad days.