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1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I spent lots of my summers as a child with my paternal grandparents. My grandfather was an avid waterman - he taught me how to crab (hard shells and soft shells) and fish (including catching my own bait) in the Chesapeake Bay. My recipe here on Food52, Oysters Harry, is from him - I was always his side-kick. My grandmother is an amazing cook who, even at 90, can make any seemingly humble dish taste delicious. When I was around 8 or 10, she made me (despite my protestations) a poached egg on buttered wheat toast cut into pieces. It was a revelation and I am still a sucker for anything with a poached egg. From my grandparents I learned to appreciate our local seafood and game and that anything shared with friends and family tastes better.
2. What's your least favorite food?
Anything over-condimented. My husband says I should form a group P.A.T.E.U.C. People Against the Excessive Use of Condiments.
3. What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
For Easter dessert - Suzanne Goin's Tarte au Fromage with Lemon Cream and Blueberry compote from Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
4. Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
My first home cooked date for my then-boyfriend, now husband - lamb chops with rosemary and garlic, twice baked potatoes with garlic, caeser salad with tons of garlic. Tons of garlic does not equal romantic date food. (or any time I have a skillet in the oven, its a 99% chance I'll grab the handle without an oven mit and burn myself).
5. What is your idea of comfort food?
Anything that was introduced to me by my family - my mom's chicken soup, dad's caeser salad, aunt Alice's stromboli, grandma's leftover homemade pie crust rolled up and baked with butter, cinnamon and sugar.
6. Apron or no apron?
Apron - whenever I can remember - otherwise, my clothes are stained constantly.
7. What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
In the recent movie Bridesmaids, the main character is a baker who lost her bakery due to the economy. At home, alone and contemplative, she takes the time to cook and beautifully decorate one perfect cupcake. Then she eats it alone. That's dedication.
8. If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Barack Obama. I think our food tastes are in line and I'd love any chance to meet him.
9. You prefer to cook: a) alone; b) with others; c) it depends on your mood
Always with others - I need almost no alone time. (good thing when you have a toddler).
10. 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.
Clean as I cook - I like to relax after my meal and not worry about a mess.