But am I? I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I expect you to read my posts, blogs and website, sign up for Workshops, read my books and simply trust what I put out when you know very little about me.
The preserving bug bit me when I was still very young, pre-school in fact, when I helped my Mum make all of the jam to last us through a whole year. We picked the fruit from the garden or hedgerow, she cooked while I sorted waxed discs and cellophane covers and rubber bands. She bottled fruit as well, jars of plums and blackcurrants, stored apples in the cellar and filled sweet jars with the dreaded salted runner beans, which I hated. Cooking was to her, a necessary chore, part of her duties as a housewife and mother.
I have always collected recipes for as long as I can remember - my projects at school were always about food. I badgered my long-suffering and strapped-for-cash mother to buy puff pastry so I could make sausage rolls- quite exotic in 1959 in a rural hamlet! I was six years old. This came about because I had won a reading prize at Primary school and requested a recipe book and sausage rolls were one of the delights within. I still have the book.
I kept my own recipe records as well at this time, carefully copying them out wherever I found them. Painstakingly using my fountain pen and in my best handwriting- I still have that book also. I made meals for the family, planned them out and searched our little shop for approximate ingredients.
By the time I was eleven we had moved to the town to live with and look after my ailing Grandmother. I made my first chutney on my own while Grandma had her afternoon nap. It was Plum Chutney and was really delicious. My parents, who now ran a greengrocers shop together, were rather horrified when they came home but I didn't see a problem. The strange thing was - and I remember it very clearly - I weighed out all of the ingredients into dishes and prepped all of the plums and peeled apples and onions etc. Then, as I made the chutney, I explained out loud what I was doing and why. My only audience was the dog.
This was my first Workshop!
Over the years, as I married and became a stay-at-home Mum myself,I preserved, baked, made bread, wine - all sorts of things. I taught myself about herbs, sought out unusual ingredients and carried on collecting recipes and recipe books. It was never my career until around twenty years ago when I had an opportunity and I grabbed it.
Finally an outlet for all of that learning, some relief for the Itch That Could Never Be Scratched.
We are always learning, all of us, as a race of people we have forgotten more than we will ever have time to relearn and pass on to others - but we must try before the skills are gone for good.