Congratulations to TheRunawaySpoon, whose Baked Ricotta and Goat Cheese with Candied Tomatoes won this week's contest for Your Best Cherry Tomatoes, earning her big prizes from Viking, OXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next Food52 cookbook!
Q&A with TheRunawaySpoon
Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
Really just being in the kitchen. My family cooks – my Mom made a great dinner every night when I was kid, and my Dad was a great one for kitchen projects like making bread or pasta or cooking Chinese food in a wok. I visited my grandparents for camp every summer and my aunt would loan me her 1950s Betty Crocker Boys and Girls cookbook and let me choose what we would cook on the weekend. We even did the fun cakes shaped like teepees and drums.
But I had this cookbook from a Junior League in South Carolina that came with colored metal measuring cups and spoons. The drawings in the book showed you when to use 1 red cup, or 1 green tablespoon. I cooked for my family from that book - I still use some of the recipes. It is one of my most treasured possessions.
What's your least favorite food?
Broccoli. Hands down.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Gee, I hope I haven’t done it yet! It’s early days. I am always trying to grow and learn in the kitchen, so I hope each recipe gets a little better.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
Knock wood, I haven’t burned down a house yet, or had any truly major disasters. I prepared an amazing dinner for friends once, and my back went out while unloading the dishwasher right before they arrived. I had to direct them how to finish and serve everything from a prone position on the floor. It actually worked out pretty well. I have great friends (and now a good chiropractor).
What is your idea of comfort food?
I am a good Southern girl, so I like dishes that feel like the South, like buttermilk biscuits, country fried steak with cream gravy and fried chicken or catfish. But true comfort is a favorite dish someone else prepares. I do most of the cooking in my life, so it’s nice to have someone else serve me a good meal!
Apron or no apron?
Cooking alone and doing the dirty work, no apron. But for serving and entertaining, I have a huge collection of vintage and modern half-aprons. In a way, it’s kind of a trademark. That’s why the spoon on my Runaway Spoon website logo has on her flirty half-apron.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year attempting to win Spencer Tracy’s heart by proving she can cook breakfast. It’s a complete disaster, but it still worked!
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
This is a tough one. There a ton of people I’d love to sit at the table with, but many of them I’d be too nervous to cook for. I think I’d like to cook a meal for Calvin Trillin. I could cook up a good Southern meal, and maybe show the Kansas City boy what real Memphis barbecue is. Plus, we could talk food and maybe he could entertain me while I cook by speaking in rhyme!
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
I immediately thought to answer alone – I like to be in charge! But I love cooking with my nieces and nephew, and have had some really fun moments in the kitchen with family and friends. My niece’s Iron Chef birthday party with 15 ten-year-old girls running around my kitchen may be the most fun I have ever had cooking.
When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
Sometimes I clean as I go, but mostly I do it at the end. I can’t imagine what an amazing cook I could become if I had someone else to clean up after me! I could put all my energy into the fun part.