Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. Starting at the age of 13, I spent a few weeks each summer visiting my cousin Trisha and her family in Sacramento. She introduced me to a whole new world of food each visit, things that I had never tasted nor heard of growing up in small town Illinois. Highlights included trying sushi and Thai food for the first time. And I still remember what a revelation her homemade basil pesto was upon first bite.
What's your least favorite food? These days it’s anything with raw garlic.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year? It's a toss-up between Luciana’s Porchetta from this site – I made it a few weeks ago and loved every single bite – and Amanda’s Raspberry Swamp Pie.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster. There are several to choose from, but I’ll go with the time I decided to start a rhubarb-cream pie at 10:30 at night. (I often get the urge to bake when I should be sleeping.) When I went to check the pie after an hour in the oven, I tilted the pan to see if the cream had set. In the process, I lost my grip, and hot pie went crashing to the kitchen floor. The pyrex pan shattered into what seemed to be a million pieces – and worst of all, a good pie was lost in the process!
What is your idea of comfort food? I’d say slow-cooked dishes like beef bourguignon and braised short ribs in the fall and winter months. And I’ve always had a major weakness for cold cereal, no matter what time of day.
Apron or no apron? No apron.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie? I smile when the curmudgeonly food critic in Disney’s Ratatouille tastes Remy’s ratatouille for the first time. It’s such a sweet scene.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? I wish I could pull out all of the stops and make my late mother-in-law, who passed away this February, an amazing meal. Her genuine love for food and good company made cooking for her a joy, and some of my most memorable meals were shared with her and my husband around our dining room table.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood My kitchen is small, so most often I prefer to cook alone.
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. B, though I’m trying harder and harder to clean as I go – and use fewer dishes and utensils in the process!