Those of you who read the Extra section in print or online this morning probably noticed that I’m starting a new occasional series in The Roanoke Times called “Look Who’s Cooking.” The idea behind this series stemmed from some of your responses to my blog survey at the end of 2010, so thank you very much!
I plan to take nominations from readers who would like to see their favorite home cooks — whether they be family or friends — receive a little recognition for their talents behind the stove (or grill, or mixer, or whatever!). Initially, I will limit the selections to home cooks who live in The Roanoke Times coverage area in Southwest Virginia. And while I know a lot of local chefs deserve some attention, this feature will be limited to non-professionals only.
Today’s featured home cook is one of my most dedicated blog readers, Debbie Franco. Debbie has been reading Fridge Magnet since the very beginning and always seems to be cooking something delicious in her kitchen. Below, you will find Debbie’s profile. If you would like to nominate a home cook for this feature, which will run on occasional Sundays, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at (540) 981-3343 or send me a note the old-fashioned way at Lindsey Nair, c/o The Roanoke Times, P.O. Box 2491, Roanoke, VA 24010. Oh, and please DO NOT leave nominations as blog comments because I don’t want any nominee’s personal information being shared here. Thanks!
Without further ado, meet Debbie:
Why I love cooking: I think it’s inherited. My mom is a good cook and her mother was a fantastic cook. I find it satisfying and enjoy sharing with others. Making someone else happy makes me happy. I just wish I could make my Grandma’s biscuits. I can make decent ones, but they just aren’t as good as hers were.
Specialty: Don’t really have one. I used to make good yeast bread, but haven’t made any for a while.
My claim-to-fame dish: The strawberry jam I make in the summer. It’s always a big hit.
My epic food fail: I decided to make a sour cream chocolate/chocolate chip cake from scratch one time. I couldn’t find a recipe, so I made up my own after perusing a few cookbooks. The cake was rising beautifully and then, for some reason, one side collapsed. It looked terrible, but tasted great. I had a box of French vanilla pudding mix in the cabinet and some Cool Whip in the fridge (real chefs cringe). A trifle was born. I made the pudding, mixed it with the Cool Whip and spread it over layers of torn pieces of cake. I took it to work and a coworker said she wanted my recipe. I told her, “No you don’t!” I still make my cakes from scratch, but I use recipes now. I don’t make up my own.
Best appliance I ever bought: My KitchenAid mixer
Favorite utensil: A thing I bought from Pampered Chef that breaks up ground beef, sausage, and such. Yeah I’m a food geek.
Favorite cookbook: “A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South” by John T. Edge. Aside from great recipes, it has some history lessons and I enjoy the various recollections.
Favorite place to eat besides home: Alejandro’s Mexican Grille
Best advice for other cooks: For foodies who have a small kitchens, like I do: A baker’s rack is great for storage and a kitchen cart makes prep work easy. For everyone: Be adventurous! Don’t be afraid of failure. It’s disappointing, but it’s just food and we learn from our mistakes.