Feb. 28, 2011 3:02 am
Updated: Mar. 5, 2011 12:15 pm
I don’t know when my recipe rebellion first began – it’s probably in my DNA, inherited from my Mother who cooked with reckless abandon.
Her massive Jean Benoit cookbook – an encyclopedia really – came out only infrequently – usually when there was a home-cooked desert called for and that…
I'm a busy working Mother with two men to feed: one child and one husband. I've been cooking since my sister and I were latch-key kids in elementary school. I know miracles are possible because it's a miracle we never set one of the houses we lived in on fire. I've fallen in and out of love with food at various points in my life. I've been everything from a size 4 to a 24. To say that food has been a big part of my life is an uderstatement. I seem to be on an eternal quest to make peace with food - to crack the code of how to eat and enjoy - and feed others - with a sense of balance and purpose. I am ever mindful of the life-giving power of food and that it is a privilege to be responsible for meeting my own nutritional needs and that of others.
My favorite things to cook
I have a real affinity for soups and stews - although now I'm having a lot of fun baking bread and have become quite good at making my own pizza. I also love roasting chickens and making my own stock...which spills layers of yumminess over the rest of what I create in the kitchen.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My Mother always enjoyed putting a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove on a Sunday afternoon. She was on her own to do the child-rearing, the bread-winning and the cooking. I'm mystified that she wasn't curled up in the fetal position on a Sunday afternoon. But usually assembling this big pot of Sunday sauce was the most fun she would have while cooking. More than 30 years later, the legacy for me is that something just feels wrong in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon if there isn't a pot of something on the stove. Even if I end up in my bathrobe all day, trying to protect myself from the week to come, I can still manage to get a pot of something on the stove.
My cooking triumphs
My greatest triumph is by far having mastered the Spanish Paella. I lived in Costa Rica for several years. I bought a special Paella pan and talked to people and researched recipes. I practiced diligently and - as with anything - practice (and a lot of passion) make perfect. This is my proudest culinary achievement. The Paella sages will say you must listen to the Paella to know if it's ready - when you hear the crackle of the bottom layer of rice - that it is crisping without burning - this means the relationship between all the ingredients has reached its climax. The Socarrat - the delectable crust that forms on the bottom of the Paella - it is the culinary equivalent of an orgasm. This I have achieved with great pride...the other...hmmm...not so much.
My cooking tragedies
By far my greatest cooking tragedy was a tenderloin stuffed with spinach and red peppers. It was supposed to be a Christmastime dish because rolling the pork and the peppers and spinach together were supposed to yield these lovely white/red/green slices with the colour marlbed throughout. I made the classic substitution error and didn't follow the recipe. I used creamed spinach instead of chopped frozen spinach (drained to within an inch of its life). Then I overstuffed the thing and when I went to roll it up the spinach was oozing out both ends: half onto me, the other half onto the other side of the kitchen island on the floor. What a mess! It didn't even make it to the oven - it earned a much-deserved one-way ticket to the garbage can.