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.

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RIP Twinkie…

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20121116-210855.jpgI cannot remember the last time I had one but I can still taste it. I can still feel the sponge cake in my mouth and the way too sweet cream filling. So bad on so many levels but so right in the culinary cavern in my mind.

Have a yummy day!

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Breakfast at Mom’s

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The last time I was at Mom’s for breakfast I’m sure my father paid. So, it’s been a really long time. I remember coming here when I would go with him to work on the weekend when his Oldsmobile dealership was just down the street on Military Road.

20120909-092702.jpg I ordered the #7 which includes coffee or tea (I love the little coffee carafe set on my table), 2 eggs (I get mine over easy so I can dip my Italian toast into the yoke), ham, bacon or sausage and home fries.

20120909-093158.jpg All this for $5.75. Yum!
One of my most enduring memories is of the table side jukeboxes. Remember those?

Tang, Aquanet, Beehives and Bewitched

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11 years ago today my brotherwent to heaven. Those last few weeks we used to joke that when he came home from the hospital we would celebrate with a “Tang Toast” like they mocked on Saturday Night Live.

I absolutely love Tang. Come on! The astronauts drank it so how bad could it be? Unless zero gravity did something to magically transform this incredible powder nothing you can say to me can deter me from being passionately in love with Tang.

I also cannot remember the last time I had it. Seriously, I guess they still make it but I have not had it in years…yet…as I type this I can taste it right now. And, I feel happy, awash in the memories I have so genuinely attached to the sweet and tangy tangerine drink.

As I enter the “way back” machine it is Thursday evening in 1969 and my mother is in the bathroom spraying Aquanet hairspray on her already perfectly quaffed beehive hairdo. It’s bowling night and she is getting ready to go bowling with her sisters and her mother.

20120720-004039.jpgMy sister is little, lying on her stomach in the middle of the family room watching television and waiting for Bewitched to come on at 8:30pm. My brother is around, probably doing homework or listening to his stereo in his original man cave (he didn’t have to share a room…) complete with a Kenwood receiver and Yamaha speakers

20120720-001033.jpgMy father’s car dealership closed at 9:00 pm on Thursdays and he stayed until the last prospect either signed or left. My brother was in charge! He was instructed to let my sister stay up and watch Bewitched but knew she had to go to bed immediately following her favorite show. Dad would probably not get home until at least 9:30pm and that gave us about 20 minutes for T.A.N.G!!!

Now, we never used a measuring spoon/scoop/cup to make our sugary elixir, no sir! We just poured it into the bottom of the glass and added water. There were times when we had so much powder in the bottom of the glass that no amount of stirring would blend it together. If he added ice cubes the sugar would plaster to the cube like glue making the ice almost slimy. All the better! We would sip away acting like kids who stole the bottle of rum, trying to finish our syrupy drink before dad got home. It was our Thursday tradition. I remember when he went away to Notre Dame missing the Tang buddy almost as much as I missed him driving me around everywhere.

I have so many memories of my brother but this one brings our bond into clear view for me.

Joe – do they have Tang in heaven? I’ll bet they do!

Live a yummy life!

JudeTheFoodie.com

Let’s Talk About Sunday Dinner

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Sunday dinner has always been important to me. I am doing research for a book titled:

“If It’s Sunday Dinner We Must Be Family”

Please take the quiz and most especially please share the quiz with your friends. It’s easy to share. Click the “Share This” button below the quiz or click the “Share” button below this post and post on your Facebook wall and Tweet it with your friends. Please encourage them to share it as well.  If you do other forms of Social Media send it out…the more the merrier!

Message me on Facebook if you would like to share your stores about Sunday Dinner.

While we’re talking, please “Like” Jude The Foodie facebook.com/JudeTheFoodie

My goal is to get 200 responses by Wednesday June 27, 2012.

Can we do it?

Have a yummy Sunday

Jude

@JudeTheFoodie

Recipes are more than words, they’re history

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I got a text last week from my son letting me know he and one of his housemates were going to make sauce. He remembered that I use four cans of tomato puree and a can of paste because he used to open the cans and pour it in when he was little. It’s amazing what they remember …

I couldn’t wait to teach him remotely how to make sauce. He does a lot of cooking so I knew he had the skill and motivation to do it. What I did not know was whether he had a pot big enough to handle the puree.

Two texts later I told him to go to the Bed Bath & Beyond across from the Stop and Shop grocery chain and pick up a 16-quart stock/sauce pot.

20120612-154510.jpgGood mother!

Next was the e-mail to his Smartphone with the shopping list followed by the additions once I actually wrote down the steps to making sauce. He called me on Saturday to tell me his sauce came out great; he fed 11 of his friends and still had some to freeze for later. Good son!

It made me think about the summer of 1980 when college graduation was just behind me and wedding bells just ahead when I sat in our kitchen watching my mother make sauce, writing down all of the steps. I still have the sauce stained notebook paper. Here is my collection of recipes.
In our family, we always make our birthday cakes. The bakery does a fine job on any given Sunday but a birthday cake is homemade. Period.

20120612-154830.jpgThe frosting recipe shown here makes the most wonderful, smooth spreadable frosting and brings me back to the days when my mother made all of our cakes from scratch, too.

One of my favorite desserts growing up was sheet pie. It was a great big pie made in a half-sheet cake pan and cut into squares. This is how my mother and aunts used to feed the hungry family every summer weekend when we swam in the pool. The recipe shown in the middle is from my Gramma Russo called lemon cake pie. This is like lemon squares and lemon cake combined.

Ridiculous. I intend to make it this weekend.

When I was finally able to have a Thanksgiving at my house after we were married I learned to make stuffing from my mother. Once again, I watched her to it and wrote it all down.

One of the things I remember all these many years later is that you don’t scrimp on flavor doing anything low-fat for a holiday.

There are 360 days of the year to go low-fat and low-sodium but holidays are special.

20120612-154926.jpgMy mother-in-law makes a delicious stuffing recipe, very different from my mother’s in flavor and simplicity. I now alternate their recipes.

No matter what the holiday, special occasion or Thursday night dinner on the fly, when you make something with love and history it always tastes better. As I have my copy of my mother’s sauce recipe I hope someday my son happens upon the printed e-mail and remembers his first sauce making experience with happy memories of me and his stock pot.

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