Knead The Dough Is A Happy Place To Eat

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I have a rule. If three separate people suggest something to me, I think of it as a divine message. I didn’t read Pride and Prejudice until seven years ago because it was referenced by three different people in a short time span. It’s now easily my favorite book.

The first time I heard about Knead The Dough in Ransomville, New York my friend Dorothy mentioned their cinnamon raisin bread. The second time is fuzzy and the third time was by my friend Mary who told me that my love for restaurant tables being set differently was common practice at this breakfast and lunch place just seven miles from our home.

I confess, I love breakfast. I always have. I loved nights when my mom would make us breakfast for dinner. She had the touch with everything and a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet to make crisp on the outside, soft on the inside home fries. By the way, home fries or hash browns? Home fries everyday of the week for me…and twice on Sunday!

20130128-070711.jpgJody, our server, recommended the Ransom Scramble when I asked what her most popular breakfast was. The home fries and scrambled eggs come with cheddar cheese and I chose to add sausage and roasted red peppers. It was a bite that brought me back to mom’s cast iron skillet dinner. It comes with toast and there were many varieties with wheat, white and cinnamon raisin baked in house. I chose the fresh butter slathered cinnamon raisin bread.

Oh wait, now I remember the third person who suggested Knead The Dough…it was my friend Kim, pictured here with Savannah, the antique pig decked out with more bling than a three year old playing dress up.

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She used to teach down the road and loved to come in for the egg salad.

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She had it on untoasted Italian bread and the chucks of egg squished out at every bite, just like good egg salad should. I’ve always loved eating the rest of my sandwich with a fork.

Kim and I enjoyed our food so much we barely spoke. If you know us you may think you witnessed another miracle at Lourdes.

The staff and owner are the nicest folks you will ever meet. Patty, the owner and Jody are pictured here with their delicious plates.

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Patty chat with us for a while, explaining their history and evoking a friendly feeling. They have been around for 10 years

20130128-074307.jpg I think this is Jessica but I was so enraptured when she spoke I stopped being a food writer and began being a fan without a pad of paper.

The people that work there are either great actors or really love the place. The people that eat there were either coincidental props or happy patrons.

As for me, I was able to spend some time with a dear friend with whom I share a love for singing and writing and meet some new people who wanted to feed me. That combo plate was as good as it gets.

Bonus…while paying my bill I saw some unsliced cinnamon raisin bread and purchased a loaf. I sliced it the next morning and here is what I saw

20130128-070821.jpgIs it me or is that bread smiling at me? Yes or no does not matter because I could only smile back.

Have a yummy day!

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Get to Know Jude The Foodie

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Transcript of an interview between Jude The Foodie and Jey Case

Interviewer: Jey Case (JC)

IntervieweeJude The Foodie (JTF)

Interview Setting: A rich imagination

Affiliation with Interviewee: They have so much in common they could be the same person

(Start of Interview)

JC: Hey Jude, it’s very nice to meet you. Do people ever do that…say “Hey Jude?”

JTF: Quite often, Jey.

JC: You have a great name. How did that come about?

JTF: Well, my maiden name is Judith Anne Russo and my family called me Judianne when I was a girl. We all had mashed up names back then. It was the ‘60’s. My father actually starting calling me Jude and that name stuck when I got older. Funny though, I still introduce myself as Judi Caserta (married my college sweetheart in 1980) so there is constant confusion what to call me.

JC: Not exactly the answer I was looking for but interesting, I guess. To be more specific, how did the name Jude The Foodie come about?

JTF: A few years ago a friend of mine was starting an online newspaper to serve our small community which was always under represented by the city newspaper. He asked me to give him some ideas as he posted content and eventually asked me to be a food and wine columnist. I think I used to refer to myself as a foodie so one day he changed the title to Jude The Foodie. I guess you could say “the rest is history.”

JC: You must have quite a resume in the cooking world. Did you go to culinary school?

JTF: No Jey, I did not. I went to Canisius College and studied accounting.

JC: Oh. Did you do graduate work in the cooking field?

JTF: No again, Jey. I work at Canisius in the athletic department. My title is Assistant Athletic Director for Business Affairs. I did my graduate work in Sports Administration.

JC: You’re not giving me much, Jude The Foodie. With your completely unrelated background in Accounting, how did you end up a foodie?

JTF: To begin Jey, accounting and baking are actually intimately related. Baking is very exact where even a teaspoon of something can change the chemical outcome. In accounting we always have to balance. It is the same type of person who spends two hours looking for $1.97 or starts measuring the dry ingredients all over again when they lose count because their phone rang.

And cooking? Well, cooking is not nearly as exacting but is a fantastic creative outlet for me much like music and singing.

JC: You sing?

JTF: I do. I used to sing in church primarily but sadly don’t have the time these days. My singing niche is unique. I sing the National Anthem before sporting events. A few highlights include singing for all of the major teams in Buffalo including the Bill’s, Sabre’s and Bison’s. I’ve sung at Shea Stadium for the New York Mets, in Toronto for the Blue Jays and Raptors, the Cleveland Indians and the Ducks at the Pond in Anaheim.

JC: What does singing the national anthem at sporting events have to do with being a foodie?

JTF: Not a thing. I just thought it would be cool to tell you.

JC: Thank you. But let’s get back on track, shall we? With your analytical background, how is it you began to identify yourself as a foodie.

JTF: I’ve always been a foodie but didn’t know there was a word for it until the last number of years. There’s a name for everything now, you know that? I laughed so hard the other day when I heard someone talking about “home gating” and after listening for a few minutes realized they were talking about having a party at your house during a football game. Seriously? We’ve been doing that for years. Who knew? Oh, and the Weather Channel now names winter storms. Can you believe that? It’s all kind of silly if you ask me. What was your question again?

JC: You are easily distracted, aren’t you?

JTF: Me? No…well, maybe.

JC: When did you first realize food held a fascination for you?

JTF: Ever since I was a little girl most of my memories with my mom involve either cooking or reading. She used to take me to the library every Saturday. I loved that. I used to sit in a leather wing back chair by the fireplace in the historic building in my small town and read. When we went home she would usually bake something.

She often made pie. She baked typical round pies in the winter and created sheet pies in the summer to feed me and my cousins after getting out of the swimming pool. It seemed like it was every weekend but that’s my child like memory. She did everything by hand and had the “touch” with the pie crust. She could tell just how much ice water to add to get the dough into a ball. She rolled it out with the precision of a diamond cutter. It was flaky and tender at the same time. To this day I still cannot make a crust like my mother’s. I can bake cakes, cookies and other confections with ease but pie crust is still my nemesis.

JC: What is the first thing you remember making by yourself?

JTF: Up until I was 14 or so cooking was a spectator sport. I think it may have been that incident when I was 8 and ended up in the emergency room in anaphylactic shock that may have made my mother squeamish about letting me help. It was Christmas time and I begged her to let me help with the cookies. She handed me a bag of nuts, a nutcracker and a pick to remove the meat from the shell. How handy is it that nuts come shelled these days?

Anyway, one for me, one for the bowl until I could hardly breath and I was one big curly haired hive. My helping days were over.

As a pre-teen I subscribed to Seventeen MagazineIn January, 1972 this magazine began my path as a foodie. One of the cover articles was titled Bread: Bake Your Own. And I did. It came out pretty well, too. Prior to that baking experience my grandmother, who lived next door, was the primary bread baker in the family. She made everything from loaves of bread to English muffins. She made the best pizza in the world and even tried her hand at making bagels.

JC: That bread sounds so good. Did your grandmother have a big influence on your life as a foodie?

JTF: Both of my grandmothers did, actually. They both made different things that were family favorites. My paternal grandmother prepared a St. Joseph’s Day feast every year. I still have the actual table used for the meal in my garage. It’s huge and we use it outside for picnics and celebrations.

One of my favorite memories about my grandmothers was when my maternal grandmother (the bread maker next door) and my paternal grandmother collaborated to memorialize the Easter bread recipe.

Let’s just say my grandmothers were not the best of friends. One glorious day when the bickering mothers-in-law declared an unspoken ceasefire, my one grandmother went about baking while the other took the actual “hands full of this and hands full of that” and measured it with cups and spoons and recorded it so we can make the recipe today. I try to bake it every year and can still smell the house in my memory. Actually the smell of anise permeates our house for weeks after baking this bread.

JC: Do you still like to bake bread? Do you have a bread making machine?

JTF: I love baking bread but don’t have as much time as I used to. I do not have a bread making machine but have that handy dough hook attachment to my beloved Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I actually adapted my grandmothers Easter Bread recipe to my Kitchen Aid and it cuts the prep time in half. All I have to do it make it twice to get the same number of loaves as I used to.

Baking bread is, to me, the single thing that makes a house smell like a home.

JC: You talk about smell a lot. Why is that?

JTF: I have always been very sensory. I can remember as a little girl walking up my driveway when I got off of the school bus trying to guess what was for dinner. I would stand outside the door and smell and announce to my mother what was for dinner before asking her. It was like a game to me and those memories of finding my mother keeping our wonderful home still make me happy.

As I got older and would come home from college she would be sure to have something wonderful on the stove or in the oven for my homecoming. The smell is the first hug of food.

JC: But it’s said that “you eat with your eyes first.” Do you think that’s true?

JTF: Oh, I agree. Pretty food is important. But, it does not need to be fancy to be pretty. You could put a yummy beef stew into a pretty bowl and find that very appealing. I leave the towering entrees and sculpted garnishes for the pros.

JC: Are you sorry you never went to culinary school?

JTF: I am not the least bit sorry I did not go to culinary school. I’m a home cook. I went to the cooking school of mom, did my graduate work with my dozens of cookbooks and my post-graduate work with the Food Network and the internet.

Cooking is a wonderful creative outlet that has gotten me through some very difficult times in my life including the deaths of my first son, my father and my brother. I have had a lifelong struggle with my weight and cooking has actually helped.

JC: How has cooking helped you with your weight issues?

JTF: Nearly two years ago I had lap-band surgery to help me lose weight. It took me about two years to make that decision because the unknown life after surgery was scary. I had no idea what would happen. The result for me, since I went into it with my whole heart, was I learned to put food into its place in my life. It was no longer an obsession (I would wake up in the morning and plan my day based on what I was going to eat and where I was going to eat it. When fast food restaurants started accepting credit cards I gained 20 pounds almost immediately.)

I learned that the first few tastes are all you really remember. And I can taste almost anything. I now regularly order appetizers for my main meal and enjoy everything I eat. If I taste it and do not like it, I stop eating it.

The clean plate club is dangerous. We really must stop thinking that if you don’t eat all of your food someone else will not be hungry. That’s just silly.

Food brings me joy and I love sharing the joy!

JC: Do you think your lack of formal training diminishes your message?

JTF: Not being a trained chef does not diminish my message. Actually, I think it supports it. When I write, it’s just you and me talking to each other. I encourage folks to interact with me because I think monologues are boring. When you walked into a classroom and you knew your teacher was going to talk at you for 50 minutes didn’t you sort of turn off? I know I did. Boring!

Everything I write can be discussed. Every recipe I create is ready to jump in your pot. I want people to make good food.

JC: I understand you have big news: is it true your column will be picked up by WNYPapers.com?

JTF: Yes, for the next 13 weeks Skip and Josh and their crew will be posting my Jude The Foodie column every Monday. I am so excited to expand my audience and express my food and life perspective.

My tagline is “Living a “Glass Half Full” Life!” and having the opportunity to share this with the Grand Island, Niagara Wheatfield and Lewiston Porter communities is a wish fulfilled.

JC: What makes your writing in WNYPapers.com different from JudeTheFoodie.com?

JTF: Good question, Jey! Nothing about my writing really changes. I will continue to post columns about good food, good drink and living a glass half full life. What is different is that the original column will run on WNYPapers.com for one week and then be archived on my JudeTheFoodie.com website.

I’m really excited about the exclusive contest we will have on WNYPapers.com. Often on my website, JudeTheFoodie.com I post Quick Bites or Quick Sips to briefly describe something I either prepared or had at a restaurant. Each month we will award a prize to someone who submits their favorite Quick Bite or Quick Sip based on the monthly theme. Only readers of WNYPapers.com will be able to enter. I think it would be fun to get restaurant patrons involved and get more than one foodie perspective.

And there are prizes! Who doesn’t love prizes?

JC: Why WNYPapers.com? Why now?

JTF: You would never know by reading city newspapers that most people do not live in cities. Don’t get me wrong, life without city newspapers would be a life I would not like to know.

But local publications like the Lewiston-Porter Sentinel, the Island Dispatch and the Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune add life and connection to my writing. This happens to be my hometown but you don’t have to be from here to understand my writing and my message.

My goal is to bring you back to the great memories food can provide, make good food with you and help you make those same memories for your loved ones.

JC: Well Jude, we will see you online.

JTF: Thanks Jey. This interview was fun.

Beyonce – I’d Listen To You Sing the Phone Book!

Dear Beyonce,

Beyonce VMA Red Carpet

Beyonce VMA Red Carpet (Photo credit: mp3waxx.com)

Sorry to get a gushy but I think you’re divine. I mean, really? Your voice gives me the chills, you seem like a very nice woman and you are beyond gorgeous.

This “lip-syncing” controversy is really stupid.

Anderson Cooper did a fabulous segment on Anderson Cooper 360 last night that not only made me smile, I actually talked to the TV like he and his viewers could hear me. “As far as I’m concerned, it is Beyonce’s world and we are just living in it.” “Francis Scott Key himself would send her a fruit basket.”

“Talk to me after you’ve gotten on a stage in of the President of the United States (just Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Buffalo Bill)   hundreds of thousands of people (75,000 here) to sing the National Anthem in 40 degree weather (20 degrees here). Until then that particular bomb is bursting in air on the RidicuList.”

A. It was her beautiful voice.

B. She was singing her heart out, even if the mic was dead. You cannot fake that throat movement without actually making the sound. I “sang” the US and Canadian National Anthems at the Rogers Centre in Toronto years ago to my own taped voice. The game presentation folks would not leave the many perils of singing live to chance. Did I sing at Skydome? You betcha. Did people hear my voice singing the anthems? You betcha again.

C. Why leave the conditions to chance? Would you prefer the exceedingly talented Christina Aguilera’s FAIL at the 2011 Super Bowl?

Beyonce – you could sing the phone book and I would listen forever.

Your friend,

Jude

Savannah Georgia On My Mind

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20130118-111620.jpgI was driving from Western New York down to South Florida the other day when I spontaneously got off Interstate 95 (once saw a tee-shirt that said “I drove I95 and I survived”)onto I16 for Savannah Georgia. My intention was to drive in and walk around. The folks at Old Town Trolley Tours had their own idea when they waved their paddles wildly at my car and my friend Loretta’s advise to take a trolley rang in my head. Great call, Loretta!

Whenever I visit a town new to me I pose the same question: what is the one bite I should get if I never get back? She said shrimp and grits at the Cotton Exchange (trolley stop 11) and a lady on the tour also said Leopold’s for ice cream (trolley stop 8).

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Our first stop was City Market. It was a fun combo of food, pub and retail.City Market

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It was here I met Zach at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.20130118-112032.jpg

He was my first tasting buddy of the day.

20130118-112107.jpgI asked about a candy I had always known as Turtles and he politely corrected my by describing them as Gophers. You cannot know how happy I was the day I discovered I’m not allergic to pecans…I did not taste them in Savannah and chose to bring them with me for the ride. They are a treat to behold.

I walked around that square taking in the local color including Paula Deen‘s Lady and Sons restaurant but chose to take the recommendation of the locals. 20130118-125950.jpgWhat a woman, that Paula Deen! She has a retail space connected to the restaurant that reminds me of the are you enter after you get off an attraction at Disney World.

I hopped back onto the trolley and saw the home of Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. I was only slightly disappointed the home was a creamy beige and not a soft green I imagined from my old uniform.
The trolley drivers are very informative, each with their own brand of shtick. I did get busted once for talking but, in my own defense, I was only answering someone’s question.

My next stop was number 6, to see the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.20130118-131151.jpg

It is a very beautiful church and well worth the stop.

After visiting the church I walked across Lafayette Square to Clary’s, famous for its role in a movie called Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil and for their eclairs as big as my head.20130118-112303.jpg

It was delicious (I had about a quarter of it this morning as breakfast-glad I had a cooler with me).

20130118-112437.jpgBack on for a few stops and jumped off at stop #8 for their famous soda bar called Leopold’s.
My tour guide said it was voted best ice cream in the south…the country…the world! Wow, I felt like Buddy in Elf and just wanted to go in and congratulate them. Worlds best? Fabulous!!

20130118-112523.jpg 20130118-112908.jpgI ordered the Lemon Custard and found it to be very smooth and almost buttery. There was a hint of lemon peel in it and  I ate a good deal of  my single scoop.

I originally set out to stay for three hours and get three good bites. By this time three hours had passed and I had already eaten or purchased for later enjoyment pecan pralines, peanut brittle, milk chocolate and dark chocolate gophers, a ginormous eclair and world famous ice cream.

But what the heck…the seven hour drive down to South Florida could wait a few more hours! I enjoyed meeting up with the same folks who began the tour with me. They were really nice and they expressed both shock and awe at the fact I was doing this alone, sandwiched into my 22 hour drive. If any of you are reading this, please let me know. Did you go back for the shrimp and grits?

Well, back on the trolley for me, this time getting off at stop number 11, Bay Street.

20130118-112746.jpg20130118-112714.jpg The end of this cobblestone street was the Cotton Exchange.

20130118-112352.jpgHere is my new best friend Brandon, as fine a mixologist as you will find, serving me a most beautiful Bloody Mary. And, it was as tasty as it looked. Even the salty seasoning on the glass rim was pretty. The Absolute Peppar gave it a kick without being too spicy.

I love eating at the bar. You learn so much about the local customs, dishes and folklore. Brandon did not disappoint. I explained I do not eat much but wanted to sample the local fare. We agreed that shrimp and grits was a must but he also recommended the Tybee Crab Chowder

20130118-134209.jpgI enjoyed the slight kick from this creamy chowder with corn and potatoes. He also brought over a tasting of German Potato Salad, different from the warm version I am used to. It is a red skin potato salad made with celery, mayonnaise and sour cream. Then it struck me…that’s my mother-in-law’s recipe…raised by a German couple…wow!

20130118-111943.jpgMy journey was almost over. It was only me and the shrimp and grits. The big taste was everything it was built up to be and more. The first surprise were the grits. I was expecting a creamy polenta like mixture. Instead they were more like a creamy biscuit shaped disk. The menu describes the dish as a bowl of organic stone ground grits lightly fried topped with roasted red peppers, onions, jumbo shrimp, andouille sausage (delicious all on their own) and smothered in a sherry cream sauce. I will remember this dish for a long time. It was the perfect balance of cream and heat.

This five and a half hour tasting was a most welcome diversion in a long and boring trip south. Best of all? I have some leftover shrimp and grits in my refrigerator right now!

Have a yummy day!

It’s Been 20 Fast Years, Dad…

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He wore leisure suits.

He played golf very well. And he played so fast we used to say he played polo with a golf cart.

He would clear his throat at a chorus concert so I would know where he and my mom were sitting.

He could dance like Fred Astaire to my mother’s Ginger Rogers. I never learned to dance but when I danced with my father he guided me with his hand on my back. Oh how I loved that.

He could tell a story better than anyone I knew. I could listen to him talk about his customers and staff forever.

He and my mom traveled around the world. My favorite story happened in Paris. They stayed in first class hotels. They came back to the hotel a bit tipsy and switched all of the shoes for shining outside the doors. They said it sounded like the UN the next morning as all of the gentlemen, wrapped in robes went searching for their shoes.

He couldn’t cook anything but scrambled eggs but could grill a steak better than any chop house.

He loved football. He worked tons of hours and when he was home on Sunday he was obsessed with the game. So, in order to speak his language, I learned football by the time I was six or seven. Twenty years ago when the Bills staged the greatest comeback he was in the hospital. I remember going straight there after the game, telling him every detail I could remember. It barely registered. I guess I should have known then.

Whenever I smell a cigar I think of my dad.

He could play billiards with the eye of a shark. When he was a boy he used to hustle at a pool hall on Pine Avenue. He used to store his winnings in the encyclopedia volume including the word Money.  Apparently he must have gotten his clever streak from his mother.

She found it. And, she kept it. Never a word was spoken.

dance at wedding

The only time I cried at my wedding was when I danced with my father.

He never met a stranger. When you met him he would make you feel as though you were friends forever. Then you would never forget him. He cut a very wide path.

20 years has passed but you are every bit as real to me today as ever. I see you in my son’s face. How lucky is he? How lucky am I?

August 1, 1927 – January 15, 1993

Love you Dad