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Someone whom I regard as having become a close internet friend, as a result of our mutual interest in and love of cooking, is Florence Sandeman, Editor of www.recipes4us.co.uk. The fact that we have both devoted a great deal of time to creating recipe sites has meant that we have a great deal in common. Like the rest of you though, I am curious to find out how someone like Florence comes to have such an interest in food and cooking.

It took a bit of convincing but at last here is Florence's biography and don't forget to pay a visit to her website (click here). Some of her recipes have been featured on Hub-UK but they are only a small sample of a truly superb collection of recipes.

Florence SandemanI was born in London in1956 but bred in Surrey, moving out when I was about five. I started cooking at the age of seven or eight, having spent the previous four to five years studying my mother's every move in the kitchen.

It fascinated me just watching her preparing food: always sprinkling some of this from that bottle; some of that from this bottle; not a cook book in sight and never measuring anything. In fact, the pair of weighing scales we had lived in a corner all by itself and never got spoken to, let alone touched. I especially liked it when she made cakes. I'd perch on the kitchen table just waiting for the moment when the cake tins were filled and in the oven. Then I got to "lick" the bowl. HEAVEN!

In fact, I think fairy cakes were the first things ever cooked (with my mother's help). They came out very well, or so my father told me. I soon graduated to "proper" food, and like my mother, never measured the herbs or spices. Being from the West Indies, my parents cooked with various of herbs and spices. The first time I ate plainly cooked mince at school, I thought my taste buds had fallen out. Much British food in those days was . . . well let's just say bland. It's come on leaps and bounds since then and is now something to be truly proud of.

By the age of eleven I was cooking meals at home. Seems very young now, but I was quite au fait in the kitchen with whisks and knives and things.

Then came cookery lessons at school. It was possibly the first time I'd ever seen a cookery book. What a great idea! And when I won a book token on my first prize day (for needlework), I immediately went out and bought two cookery books. The first of the three hundred plus collection I have now. It's like a drug. If I don't get a new cookery book every so often, I go into withdrawal. The great thing about cooking at school, especially for 'O' levels (now GCSEs) was that you were taught the art of meal planning and timing. To this day, if I'm giving a special dinner party (i.e. five courses or more) I'll do a time plan to ensure I don't forget something.

Then came many years of cooking and eating. For family, friends and strangers. By strangers, I don't mean professionally, but on occasions I would entertain my husbands business associates. I got married at twenty-two and with the addition of my first home came cookery at a new level. "The dinner party" became my forte. I'd spend days going through cookery books to find just the right balance of dishes. I just loved the "Oooo's", "Aaaaah's" and "Mmmmmm's" when I produced something spectacular.

Many more years of cooking followed, then came the web site - an idea which came up sort of by accident as a means of making money. But that initial thought has been superseded by the love of doing it. At times, it is a labour of love, but one well worth pursuing.

I got an insight into the internet working for Ziff-Davis UK, a publishing house which published PC and Internet related magazines. There were a lot of high-tech people working there who were only too happy to lure another being into their web. I purchased a package called "FrontPage" and trawled through the "help" topics, bit by bit. I gave myself s months to set it up with one thousand recipes online. Voila! Recipes4us.co.uk was born on 31st March 2000 and has been going ever since.

It's a challenge; it's rewarding, though not financially; it's expensive at times; it's brought me new friends who share my lust for cooking. Sometimes it's a headache; sometimes it's frustrating. But with all that, it's my baby, it's growing bigger and stronger by the day and I love it. It combines a very old love (food) and a new love (the internet) . . . and I think I'll probably continue nurturing it until the great Cyber Kitchen in the sky calls me to "come cook".

If you would like to visit the Recipes4Us website click here