1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking. My earliest food memories are of my great-grandmother. She was Italian -- first generation born in the U.S. -- and she spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and sweets. When I would come to visit, she would always have a freshly made bowl of Jell-o waiting for me. On special occasions she would make a Jell-o crown jewel cake. To this day, I cannot look at one of those cakes or the similar broken glass desserts without thinking of her.
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2. What's your least favorite food? When it comes to food, I am probably not as adventurous as one might expect. There are some things I just cannot eat. Raw fish or seafood, no. Organs, whether beef or poultry, no. However, I am just as likely to pass up a dish if it is loaded with cilantro, too!
3. What is the best thing you've made so far this year? The year is young and I haven't had a chance to make much, but yesterday at work I mixed up a batch of white chocolate chunk cookies with pecans and coconut in them that were pretty incredible -- I ate them warm from the oven.
4. What is your idea of comfort food? For me, comfort food is anything that makes me feel good. On a cold day or if I am not feeling well, soup will almost always do it. My favorites are generally those that are clear and have lots of veggies in them, but a bowl of white bean and ham soup can do the trick on a cold day. On a hot day, or a particularly stressful day, bring on the ice cream -- chocolate-y and full of chunks and gooey ribbons of caramel and peanut butter.
5. If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be? That show stopping meal would be for one person: my great-grandmother. It would be wonderful to spend a day in the kitchen with her and then have dinner together.