According to my passport(s) and the passage of time, my given name(s) is/are George, Georges, Georgios and my family name is Tsaklidis. I am a Canadian, a Greek, a Frenchman, a lot of influences and socio-cultural stuff going on there. In my heart, I am North American and European. According to my friends and family, my nicknames are Georgie, Yorg, Yioryi, Yorgen Tsaken, Tsak, Tsakster, G- Tsak.
Given the choice, I’d be spending most of my time in my small Parisian kitchen, (I ended up here because of a scholarship in the early 90’s) experimenting with old and new stuff and especially re-sizing stuff, making foodstuff easier to portion, easier to serve, easier to eat, easier to transport, but not always easier to make, but I’m still working on it. The aim here is to spend more quality time with friends & guests thanks to this prior prep-work, instead of spending it going back-and-forth to the kitchen, with your friends and family and colleagues sitting in another room (I have a kitchen that opens/looks out onto the living/dining area so I can easily keep an eye on things, but you know what I mean).
Hence the abundance of recipes resulting in individual bites (or rather two-bites) for starters and individual portions for the main meal and dessert(s)! I’m not a "slicer" or simply prefer not to be and love cocktail-buffets or as we say here "apéro-dinatoire". I also enjoy eating stuff with my hands, no cutlery needed is a happy moment for me …
It isn’t unusual that I’ll get an idea and start making stuff early in the morning (before work) or late in the evening (after work). And if that isn’t possible, because of travelling duties, I’ll be needing my "fix" and will be happily spending whatever days I have off in the kitchen. I’m lucky enough to mostly work one week out of every two, usually travelling and working 50-75 hours one week, zero the next. That works for me. I’m also quite fortunate to have a job that includes a lot of fine wining-and-dining, whether I’m the one being wined-and-dined or I’m wining-and-dining others, another reason why home-cooking and home-eating has become a passion and a priority.
On the suggestion of friends, I’ve started this cooking blog, "Just do it" is what they said. Just call it "tsaka-tsaka with tsak" is what another friend suggested. What did I just say ? Tsaka-tsaka ???… It’s a twist on "tàka-tàka", a Greek expression literally meaning "fast-fast". Working on launching this blog and getting the recipes down on paper (measurements, methods and all that stuff) has made me realize that my cooking only tends to appear to be "tsaka-tsaka" when I’ve done it many times before and somehow mastered it (by my standards) usually with some of the prep-work completed beforehand and waiting for me patiently in the refrigerator or freezer, to be incorporated and/or used up, when the time is right.
Obviously, another more personal reason for this blog was to force me to get my recipes in order. So, so many re-printed sheets (because I was too lazy to actually go looking for it), old faded photocopies, torn pages, bits of sticky-notes and napkins, all scribbled and modified and stained with food, with my illegible footnotes everywhere, and that only includes the stuff that I actually took the time to write down (for friends who happened to ask me for recipes). Half of my stuff is done from memory, which is why I often call my mom (an excellent cook) who doesn’t measure stuff much (in an officially manner) and/or has her own version of what a cup is (when she actually uses one) or a handful or a pinch… or my personal favourite when I ask how much of an ingrediant I need to use/add : "just enough… you’ll see" ! Yup, got it… thanks.
I don’t know if I’m actually being creative. I’m definitely trying to be "re-creative". So let’s go with this this pretext and see where it takes us. When playing around with a recipe, it usually gets easier (and better) each time you re-do it because you’ll be more organized and aware of what you’ll need to do or re-do or modify each following time. This doesn’t include the cleaning-up of the ensuing tsunami-inspired mess I make in my small kitchen after I’m done). I’ve got the hands to cook so I’ve got the hands to clean (usually, a second pair of hands is available too… life is good).
Another blog option would have been a different focus, not-so-much on cooking but rather on sizing, a kind of xs-s-m-l-xl type of approach to cooking, but anyways I’ve done it here (up until a certain point) and I’ll let you do the math and the necessary number-crunching for your own needs and the quantities required for either one larger dish (if that’s what you prefer) or a few individual smaller ones or an army of miniatures (worry not, I can give you some tips and figures to help you out with that).
Anyways, read through the recipes, take a quick look at the photos and breeze through the occasional videos. Adapt them to your needs, try switching ingredients, use up what’s laying around in your refrigerator and pantry (I wish I had one of those too) and (as I’ve said over-and-over again) definitely try getting yourself some inexpensive floppy silicone moulds, some rigid cutters (a digital scale and a timer are also great ideas). You might just get some interesting recipes (or versions of the recipes) out of this blog, but I’m hoping you’ll get even more "tips" out of it…
I freely admit that I keep discovering stuff and modifying stuff as I go along. By the way, I love a challenge, so feel free to send me your suggestions or loosely-described food fantasies for yet-to-exist things to eat.
Before something edible or drinkable or anything gets invented or re-invented, it’s just stuff… which is why icookstuff.
ps: usually, midway through this rant, a family member or friend would have strongly suggested that I "shut-up and eat something"… I prefer "shut-up & cook something".
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