Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome my new blog - The Sensitive Epicure!

The Sensitive Epicure is all about good food, while having dietary restrictions.

The most annoying question/response I get when I tell them that I cannot eat gluten for any milk products is, "OMG, you poor thing. What CAN you eat?" Uh . . . . plenty! Or another one of my favorites (NOT) is "How can you not eat bread? If I couldn't eat bread, I'd kill myself!" Okay, I'm not even going to go there - a comment like that is just uncalled for.

So, about me. I am currently a Culinary Student at The Midwest Culinary Institute in the Personal Chef Program. I just started classes in November 2008. I was limited in what I could take my first term due to a trip of a lifetime to a friend's wedding in Singapore (foodie capitol of the world) and the after party in Krabi, Thailand (paradise) - I shall blog about this trip in future postings. So, my first cooking class while in school, was in Thailand! It was awesome - I learned some much that I will blog about.

I am a hard core Chemist and Foodie. My first time around in university, I focused on studying Physical Organic Chemistry. I studied quantum mechanics for fun, reading Enrico Fermi's hand-written notes from his University of Chicago class when I needed a pick-me-up; or if I wanted to get "literary" I would read any of Richard Feynman's books. I enjoyed organic chemistry because I was using my dexterous technique and chemistry knowledge to create new molecules - it was both art and science. After getting my BS and the 1st sequence of graduate level of organic chemistry, I found myself working in the industry, for corporate America. I worked at a food & flavor company, making beverages and new foods; then spent 14 years working at the largest consumer company in the US. I worked on some great things: the long-wearing 2-step lipstick (my invention!), nail polish, making new pharmaceutical compounds, then laundry detergent.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease & Dermatitis Herpetiformis in March, 2003. Since then, I have realized over time that I have more important things to work on rather than doing another cost savings on the laundry detergent line-up. Just this past October 2008, I left my corporate job as a Chemist to pursue my culinary dreams. I know I can develop some delicious foods, without being so institutional about it. I'm a Chemist - I know what gluten is, what casein is, etc; and most importantly I understand all that stuff and how to use it to make the best food out there.

My approach to GF/MF recipe development is to deconstruct a typical gluten-filled food and rebuild it with an optimization of GF ingredients and reinterpret it into something spectacular – like my Buskens style iced cookies (incredible iced cookies local to only Cincy). My kitchen success has come from understanding the physical properties of food ingredients and utilizing chemistry between these ingredients without using anything “unnatural” such as xanthan gum or bean flours in baked goods.

I will post more . . . . please stay tuned for more!

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

1 comment:

Claire said...

Hi Erin,

I just wanted to say congrats on making the leap toward what you really love. I, too, am a chemist who's now pursuing her certification as a registered dietitian. I was diagnosed with CD over 10 years ago. When I realized that all my spare time in grad school was spent cooking and reading about food, I decided I need to combine my love of science and love of food--just like you did! Good luck with your blog and everything.