Saturday, May 26, 2007

Five Questions

Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody recently posted an interview on her site. Kirstin of Kirsten's Home Cooking had her choose 5 question to answer out of 8. At the end Peabody invited readers to volunteer to be interviewed by her. I was curious what questions she would ask. Here they are and my answers (she asked me five, so I answered all of them):

1. You seem to garden a lot. Would you rather be in your garden or your kitchen and why?

I am spending a lot of time in the garden this year. For the second time in my life I have enough time and the energy to do a big garden. The last time was 20 years ago when we moved her and that summer I didn’t hold down a paying job. I always do some gardening, but usually it’s been limited in the past by other time commitments.
I’d rather be in my kitchen than my garden. I just love to use the fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the garden in the kitchen. Today is a perfect example. I should have been fertilizing the plants, but yesterday I found that the grape leaves were perfect size and age (still young and supple) for stuffing and I picked a bunch to blanch. I love dolmas and have wanted to try making them for years, but never had the time. Today I found that there were enough male zucchini flowers to stuff, so I picked them, too. Then, instead of being in the garden, I had a wonderful morning in the kitchen making dolmas and baked stuffed zucchini blossoms. Guess what is really true is I like to eat and be creative with food. I could live without gardening, but would be miserable if I couldn’t cook.

2. What made you want to join the Daring Bakers challenges?

I was inspired by the croissant three-day marathon. Not only was the challenge daunting and exciting, but it was clear that a lot of fun happened among the bakers, too. Each one of the participants except one had blogs that I regularly visited, too, which made it even more fun to read about. Guess I wanted to have some fun with the girls and see if I could meet the challenges. Not only has it been fun and forced me to try things outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve started to bake more and have ‘met’ a wonderful group of very supportive, generous people.

3. What is your favorite meal from childhood?

Thanksgiving turkey dinner is hands down my favorite meal. I love turkey. The most memorable Thanksgiving dinner was the year by sister was born (she knows who she is) because Mom was in the hospital. My older brother, sister and I cooked the dinner. The turkey was undercooked. The peas were burnt. The potatoes were lumpy and cold. The kitchen was an amazing mess. Within a few months we were given cooking lessons and began to cook one night a week. I was 10 or 11 at the time and up to then had mostly baked for fun. So glad that sister was born, especially at Thanksgiving!

4. Who is your biggest inspiration in life? Who is your biggest inspiration in your food life?

My biggest inspiration in my life has been my Mom. She was college educated and had a career during the war, but her real career, according to her, was to raise a family. She also volunteered, was active in politics and the church, and was almost always ready for a cup of tea with me after school. I’m also college educated, but worked part-time some of the time while my children were growing up so that I could be available and spend time with them. I have been active in politics, have volunteered in a number of ways and even taught a church school class with kindergarteners one year (but never again). I wouldn’t change any of it. When my son died at 16, I was especially thankful that I had spent so much time involved in his life.
My Mom is also the biggest inspiration in my food life. Unlike many cooks in the 50’s and 60’s, she made many things from scratch, showed us how to stretch a pound of meat (an important skill when you have ten people sitting around the dining room table), made jams and jellies, canned, and took real joy in seasonal foods. When the strawberries were ripe, we had shortcake. When the first tomato of the season was ready, we had BLTs. Asparagus were prepared very simply, so we could enjoy them in their spring glory. My dad grew up on farms and may have encouraged the former city girl in this appreciation. The whole family would go and pick berries, peaches, and grapes in season and then return home to prepare them. She is an outstanding baker, too. My cooking reflects that seasonal approach and I don’t mind lots of peeling and chopping, blending and stirring. I feel lucky that she was willing to pass along so much when, in truth, she doesn’t like to share her kitchen.

5. You say in you bio that you are a novice artist. What kind of art are you into?

My current passion is watercolor. I’ve been working in watercolor for about a year and a half, but only recently found my style. I really enjoy the spontaneity of wet on wet watercolor painting. I’m hoping soon to be proficient enough to do portraits. Many years ago I would sketch people and have always been interested in drawing people.
I also have been taking a lot of time to enjoy photography, not only for blogging, but compositions in nature. I have no training, but I’m slowly learning what works and what doesn’t.
In the past I spent years doing stained glass designs, often making the patterns myself. With progression of my eye problems (4th nerve palsy) stained glass is more taxing than enjoyable.
I have an associate’s degree in graphic arts and do pro bono newsletters for non-profits and the occasional job, which is also artistic. The eye problem has curtailed that as a profession, but I still enjoy what I can do.

Peabody, I really appreciate that you interviewed me and that you obviously put a lot of thought into the questions. I’ve been enjoying your blog for about a year now and love your passion for baking.
So that's a little more about me than you might want to know, but I'll bet you read it anyway :)

Do you want to be interviewed?
Here are some directions:
1. Leave a comment saying, "Interview me."2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Beware, I may ask personal questions! Please make sure I have your email address.3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


  1. Oh my, what a crazy Thanksgiving!
    Your mom sounds like an amazing inspiration who instilled many great qualities in you. I am sorry about the loss of your son. But I agree whole heartedly how lucky you were to spend the time you had with him.

  2. What a wonderful interview! I LOVE learning more about fellow bloggers. :)


  3. Hi Elle -- interview me ;-)

  4. Excellent answers, Elle! I enjoyed reading that and getting to know you a lil better. =)

    Also.. the dolmas & stuffed zucchini flowers look and sound amazing!


  5. Anonymous6:24 PM

    I've really enjoyed reading all of these interviews.
    As always, thanks for such a personal glimpse into your life!