About Cooking for Zo

Posted by Unknown Friday, June 11, 2010 0 comments

When Zo and I started dating we had known one another for a few years. I knew she loved food as much as I and I decided due to my lack of charm that was the way to win her over. I planned out for our second date to be a walk by the river that just so happen to pass my town home. I asked her if she wanted to stop in and get a drink and some lunch. My first meal for her was an utter disaster! Being that she was a vegetarian at the time I had planned an imported mushroom white sauce to have over pasta. It was all going great until I put cheese into the rue not noticing it was fat-free cheese. It completely ruined the whole meal and I had to go with a 5 minute plan B. She must have liked me because she stuck around for more meals. Every time we hung out I had a new meal planned for her and I boasted, "I will cook you a different meal everyday we are together for the next year." Perhaps I bit off more than I could chew, as a couple of months later we added 3 amendments:

1. If we really want a meal soon after having it, we can have it.

2. When entertaining family or friends, repeats are allowed because I‘m not just cooking for Zo.

3. Variations on the same general meal are acceptable.

This blog started with 50 of those recipes that we felt were too scrumptious not to share, along with countless new recipes that we are constantly cooking for one another. All the meals you will find are Original ideas (unless otherwise noted,) Original variations on recipes I grew up cooking or meals I've tried to recreate after having eaten them (with my own twists added of course.) Bon appetit!

Francis Keyser

Posted by Unknown 0 comments

According to my mother, as a young child I was happiest when she would plop me on the kitchen floor to play with nothing more than a Dutch oven and a wooden spoon. As she cooked supper I would just bang away on my kitchen drum laughing and grinning away. Soon enough I was pretending to cook on my sisters play oven and amazed with her Easy Bake Oven.

As the years passed I was able to start creating more food than mess in the kitchen, so my parents started letting me help with meals. When I was not slicing, dicing and stirring along side my parents I was watching Julia Childs, Justin Wilson and Spider-man with my father. I really think Spider-man might have taught me more about cook because with his web shooters he could make anything stick together… just kidding! Julia Childs taught me some very important lessons through the TV. She taught me that it was "My" Kitchen and I was cooking with flavors that I liked. Justin Wilson on the other hand taught me about the importance of drinking while cooking... among other things. While my parents were teaching that cooking was the time when a family discussed all the stress of the day, so that when you sat down to dinner, you were free of all your worries and you could enjoy the amazing meal you had created together.

Later on in life I got my drivers license and I totaled my first car (about 7 hours after getting it.) My dad punished me by making me get a job to pay off the car. Who knew that punishment would actually help me learn more about cooking and lead me to express myself even more in my recipes. I was working at a Mom and Pop Pizzeria and when no one bothering to supervise me I'd let my imagination run wild with their pizza, sandwich and pasta recipes. I'd make honey and crack pepper crusts with spicy sauces hoping that the customers would be pleasantly surprised.

I've now been cooking custom recipes of my own for the better part of 10 years. I enjoy inventing new recipes so much my family has even purchased me blank cookbooks to fill with my own creations. I'm constantly striving to become a better cook and learn more about food all things "food." My love for inventing new recipes has led me to Cooking for Zo! A site devoted to my love of not only cooking but of ZoAnn Marie Campana.

We hope to provide you with great recipes that you and your loved ones can enjoy as much as we enjoyed making them for each other!

One of these days I hope to have my own recipe books and pitch some of my cooking show ideas to the Food Network.

Bon appetit!


Posted by Unknown Thursday, June 10, 2010 0 comments

"It's cooking for me!" That's what I say anytime Francis brings up Cooking for Zo in conversation. That's because, as you may have guessed, I'm the muse for this lovely site; I just sit around and look pretty, inspiring Francis to cook delicious things for me. Because we all know that I like to eat, always have.

That's not to say that I can't pull my own weight in the kitchen. I have lots of warm memories of being dough-faced in my great-grandmother's kitchen (in fact, one winter I was baking Christmas cookies with her, and she staged a photograph in her sugared-and-sprinkled galley after dabbing my four-year-old nose in flour. Ultimate genetic manifestation of her Vaudevillian father). There is a softness in my heart for memories of making popcorn and chocolate sodas overnight with my Nana, her soda-jerk ways flooding back to her as she added an extra scoop of ice cream. I have sweet memories centered in my parents' kitchen as well: helping my creative cook of a mom in every preparation of lunch and dinner, helping my dad by arranging the cheese on his omelet, his single culinary mastery. And all those years of Dinnertime, that sacred event when everyone sat down together as a family, the culmination of all that bustling in the kitchen. Oh yes, I like to cook.

But I'm a baker at heart. Francis can tell you that. I remember when I was small, my mom went through this huge cake decorating phase. She was always the cake-baker when it came to family events, everyone else picked up a too-sweet sheet cake from the store. During those years, I had laid eyes on every cake a little girl could wish for: a German chocolate kitty, a guitar with strings of licorice, a bunny with toasted-coconut paws, and a giant chocolate chip cookie "cake." From those Christmas cookies with Grandma Ann to my mom's imaginative cakes, my sweet tooth grew into something that I loved to do.

That's part of why Francis and I work so well together. He cooks, I bake. And I'll tell you what, he cooks up some pretty amazing things using the most incredible method: his imagination, backed by a lifetime of messing around in the kitchen.

Go ahead and try a recipe. It's so good, I promise!

(this is a rough draft recipe idea)

The recipes come mostly from original ideas, ideas I've had while eating another meal or recipes I grew up cooking with my parents. Here is an example of an original recipe idea and what goes into creating it for the site.

1. First I write down my base idea. (Ingredients, sauces, toppings)

2. As I cook, I write down the amounts of items I used as well as add any items I decided the meal needed.

3. I then start to adjust when you should add items, how you should cook the items, what part of the meal those items should be a part of, in what order you should cook the meal, at what temperature you should cook the items at and how long you should cook them.

4. We make any additional notes and then I take all the notes we've written and create a rough draft that eventually gets typed up for the site.

What's with the Taste levels?

Posted by Unknown Wednesday, June 9, 2010 0 comments

Why in the world did we choose G, VG, GR, VGR and TF? Well early on we decided that we wouldn't post anything that we didn't enjoy. (There have been a couple times where one of us really enjoyed something and the other didn't, in those cases we give the meal an automatic G.)

The ratings basically work like this; G-VG recipes are meals that we enjoyed, GR-VGR are recipes that we really enjoyed and TF rated meals are some of the best meals we've ever had, ever.

There is a little more that goes into the taste ratings. For one I automatically knock off taste levels for 90 percent of sides, salads and other easy things to make. Why? Because you can have a great salad, but in my opinion it is still a salad. I wouldn't consider a great salad to be on the same level as a great pizza or a great pizza to be on the same level as a fancy seafood dish. So to adjust to this difference in meals discrepancy I automatically lower ratings in certain cases to be more fair.

Who Does What?

Posted by Unknown 0 comments

Francis is the main breakfast/lunch/dinner recipe creator. He takes most of the photos (poorly,) writes all the posts and maintains the website.

Zo is the reason this site exists but she also makes recipes when Francis doesn't force her out of the kitchen! Her specialty around the kitchen is making desserts and baking other delicious goodies. When Francis has his hands full, she will shoots photos and edits posts as Francis blurts out changes. She is the invaluable taste tester and Food rater. All taste levels come from her opinion because Francis does not trust his own opinion. He does knock down taste levels due to his believe that love also makes Zo biased.

Friends and Family
Outside opinions are critical to the creation process of the recipes on Cooking for Zo. Almost every recipe on the site is tested out on friends or family before being posted.

Another critical part of Cooking for Zo is you, that's right you! Zo and I decided to create Cooking for Zo to share our recipes with anyone and everyone. We believe that cooking together is not only a great way to have good meals but also a great way to build strong bonds and great memories. As we cook for friends, family members and each other we constantly converse and make cooking an event that everyone is part of. What better way is there to get closer to those you care about, than to munch down on great meals you create together!

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