Growing up my mother taught me one way to make pasta. You boil the water, you put the pasta in for the time on the box, and then you drain it and pour the sauce over it. We won’t talk about her sauce here. The only time you did something different with the pasta was if you were making the boxed macaroni and cheese, in which case you added the powdered cheese, butter, and milk and stirred. That was how I was raised to think about pasta. My only other memories of my mother and pasta was when she was making a noodle kugel, but then she still made her egg noodles the same way or kasha varnikas in which she boiled the noodles and added them to the kasha. Overall, her basic approach was boil, drain, and use. Read more
As many of you know, most of my inspiration for this blog comes from my addiction (in a good way) to the show Chopped. This week is no exception as the episode I was listening to as I drifted to sleep (yes I fall asleep to reruns on the Food Network). What I woke up thinking about was how many times I have heard the judges discuss how hard it is to make rice on this show, never mind make the perfect risotto. I think it was Scott Conant I once heard talk about how many people have bad risottos. While it may be difficult to master, Bon Appetit magazine has identified as one of their favorite rice based dishes. They said the perfect “risotto is rich without being heavy, with al dente rice, a rainbow of seasonal vegetables, a shower of fresh herbs, all christened with a blanket of Parmesan.” They did agree with the Chopped judges “it’s not always done right. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to screw up.” Read more
I have to be honest, my first thought was to write this about the frankfurter, for reasons I will explain in about two weeks (how is that for a hint). However, as most people talk about them as hot dogs (H) that is when I will return to the all-American food – the hot dog. For this week, it is one of its all-American counterparts – the French fry. I am one of those people in the world who is not a fan of fast food French fries. I have tried to like them, but years ago, I had amazing French fries and fast food fries have never measured up since then. I am not a fan of frozen fries either. Over the years, I have tried to see if I like them yet, but I don’t. The other day, a friend stared at because I talked about throwing them away. Read more
Perhaps it was because I spent a good part of the day in the kitchen baking loaves of bread, that I began to think about why the process of bread making is so spiritual for me. With most of the breads that I bake, it always starts with a little yeast mixed with water and sugar. Water, in most spiritual traditions is life giving and spiritually cleansing. Conversely, it has been suggested that as people evolve spiritually, they have less craving and a lower tolerance for sugar. Perhaps, that is why when preparing the yeast mixture there is a significant amount of water and yeast, but very little sugar. Read more
I remember growing up seeing the Pillsbury commercials with the little dough boy, Poppin’ Fresh, who would always say “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven. He was so cute, he made you want to go out and buy those products and have biscuits, turnovers, and pies straight from the oven. This for me was homemade. It was my idea of something from the oven, homemade baking. The next version of homemade I remember was my mom getting some frozen dough from the store and baking that in the oven. I remember loving that bread. It always tasted so much better then the store bought. I especially loved it when it first came out of the oven and you ate it warm with melted butter on it.
Those were the days. Several years ago, I learned how to make bread from scratch. I have not made it in a long time, as my schedule had not allowed it. Read more
Growing up I have these fond memories of my parents bringing us to Mario’s pizzeria. I could not tell you where it was anymore, I just remember it being one of those foods we all loved. It was not something we had very often. I remember the cheese, which seemed to stretch for miles, the aroma of the pizza parlor and time spent with family. Over the years, my memories of pizza have changed. With the advent of corporate pizza chains who delivered and frozen pizzas, it went from being one of those special treats that I savored to something you ordered when you didn’t feel like cooking or needed a quick comfort food. While I have been intrigued by some of the techniques like putting extra cheese in the crust, pizza has been losing it’s specialness for me. As I have been working to transform our diets and have us eating healthier, it has been one of those foods, which just never seemed to fit the 30 grams of carbs rule. Read more
I have been cooking since I was a little girl. One of my earliest food memories was when I was probably three or four, perhaps younger. My mother would sit me on the kitchen floor or at the table with a pot of water and a spoon and tell me to stir. Over time, ingredients slowly were added to my repertoire as my mother’s sous chef (that is not what she called me at the time). I always loved baking with my mother. I was not so crazy about cooking with her; I developed my interest in cooking as a survival technique as she was not the best cook. However, I loved baking with her. I remember how meticulous she was. She had her dry measuring cups and her wet measuring cups and there was always a knife present as she prepared to bake one of her amazing creations like her lemon ricotta bobka cake or her rugelach. I still make her lemon ricotta bobka cake today and it still fills the house with the same aroma I remember as a child.
Over the years, I have become increasingly comfortable in the kitchen. Read more
It can be a bit of a challenge to curl up anywhere to read a 700 plus page book. Yet this is what I found myself doing today as I began reading Deborah Madison’s book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. As I looked at this book for a moment, I had this wave of feelings that went through me as I wondered, for a moment, what I had just committed to doing this year as I cook my way through her book, seeking to develop a deeper relationship with the plant offerings I eat, developing my culinary skills, seeking to modify them when needed to be diabetic friendly, and inspire me to create new dishes. At the same time, there was this wave of excitement. This cookbook about vegetarian cooking has been compared to Julia Child’s cookbook on French cooking. So until I am done cooking the over 1400 recipes in this book, it will be Sharon and Deborah, just like it was Julie and Julia. Then the journey began and like Bastian in The Never Ending Story, I opened the book and began reading the Introduction to my new culinary and spiritual adventure Read more
Since I did not get any ingredients from anyone, I decided I would take one of the mystery boxes from Chopped and create something with them. Before I talk about the ingredients and what I made, I want to reflect a bit more on what it is about Chopped that I find so spiritually inspiring.
One of the things I enjoyed most when I was pastoring, especially when I was going by the lectionary, was taking a series of scriptures that seemed to have nothing to do with each other and seek a way of bringing them together into a cohesive and inspirational message. Read more