Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. When I was 10 and a new Girl Scout, I decided I wanted to get my Farmer Badge. This wouldn't have seemed strange, but I lived in Chicago! I did have several aunts and uncles who had farms in Central Illinois, where I often vacationed, so Aunt June and Uncle Lester took me on to do the badge work that summer. The exercise that impressed me most (to this day) was killing a chicken, preparing it for cooking, frying it up, and serving it.
Shop the Story
Dressed in an oversized slicker, I went out to the chicken coop and reined in a hen with a crook. With my uncle's arms around me, I swung the chicken with one hand and the axe with the other. Beginner's luck -- we hit it on the first try. I realized later that experiences I had on the farm gave me an understanding of where my food came that was different from that of other city kids who didn't have similar opportunities. I am forever grateful.
What's your least favorite kitchen task? Cleaning the stove. But it's got to be done!
Your favorite kitchen tool? It's a tie. I reach for my Wusthof chef's knife (10-inch) without thinking -- but also my Cuisinart food processor, because it is such a time and energy saver.
What is your idea of comfort food? My ultimate comfort food is chicken soup with matzo balls, but pretty much any food I grew up with and loved would qualify -- like spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes, and chicken salad sandwiches.
What is your greatest kitchen disaster? I really don't recall too many of those, but just recently, I made dymnyno's wonderful Sicilian Blood Orange Marmalade. As I was ladling the hot jam into jars, one of them slipped off the counter and crashed onto the tile floor. What a mess! Even worse than having to clean it up was that I lost a precious jar of marmalade.