Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
My family is the biggest influence in my life when it comes to food: My mom helped shape how I prepare and respect food, while my dad was a scientist by day with a passion for gardening. He grew almost all the vegetables that our family ate, and my mom canned and preserved them.
More: Here are some of our favorite tips for canning and preserving.
I remember helping her with the tomatoes that Dad grew—being Italian, we had fresh tomato sauce several times a week during the summer. During the winter, we still had tomatoes thanks to my mom’s canning prowess. My mom taught me to respect food, look for quality ingredients, and whenever possible, make it myself and avoid processed food.
What's your least favorite kitchen task?
I hate unloading the dishwasher.
Left: Sdebrango's new Italian citrus juicer. Right: Sdebrango and her pug.
Your favorite kitchen tool?
My new favorite tool is an antique Italian citrus juicer that I just received as a gift. It’s huge but it really does a good job extracting every drop from fruit.
What is your greatest kitchen disaster?
When I almost burned my kitchen down. I have told this story before, but it truly was a disaster of epic proportions. I left a pot with chicken stock to simmer while I did some errands. I had a new electric stove, which I was not used to, and instead of simmering, I must have put it on high because I came home to the fire department at my house. They had kicked in my door, the black chicken and pot were on my front lawn, and my kitchen was covered in water and soot. Lesson learned.
First photo by Mark Weinberg; last photo by James Ransom; all others provided by sdebrango