Our 1st Quick Bite Quick Sip Contest

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Win $25 from the

Lewiston Village Pub!publogonew-01-125

‘Quick Bites and Quick Sips!’

Here’s how it works: At the beginning of every month, we will announce the theme of the month. You drink and dine around town and nominate your favorite sip or bite. You must describe why you like it in 140 characters or less.

Feel free to take a picture. Send the “Quick Bite” or “Quick Sip,” picture (including the name of the restaurant or tavern) to us by Wednesday March 27.

Include your first and last name. You will be notified via email if you are the winner of a $25 gift certificate to the Lewiston Village Pub.

There are lots of ways to submit your entry:

You can go to the exclusive Jude The Foodie page on WNYPapers.com and contact us there.

You can submit your entry on the Jude The Foodie Facebook page. Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook so you can get all of the announcements and win prizes.

And you can e-mail JudeTheFoodie@gmail.com with all of the information.

Restaurants are welcome to invite their patrons to participate.

On Monday, April 1, we will announce a winner and publish their “Quick Bite” or “Quick Sip” along with the next month’s theme.

 March theme: “Grandma’s Kitchen”

I’ll start: When I think of Grandma’s kitchen, I think of the biscotti at the Village Bake Shoppe in Lewiston. It’s a memory of Grandma’s house!

 Now you get out there and give it a try. Have a yummy week!

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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.

Lewiston Getting Jazzy This Weekend!

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20120821-081527.jpgMost people go to the Lewiston Jazz Festival for the music and I’m here to say “Me, too!”

20120821-081430.jpgI am also going for the food. The next few days I will give you my Jude The Foodie take on a way to plan your culinary experience along with your listening pleasure.

20120821-082717.jpgI have the honor of singing to honor Canada and the United States of America before the headliner, Diane Schuur, who sings on the main stage at 8:00 pm. She is a Grammy winner and I hope I get to meet her…how cool! Check out the Historic Lewiston Jazz Festival website for many more details.

20120821-082330.jpgMeanwhile, since this is my own blog, allow me to do some shameless self promotion. I along with my talented singing partner Loretta Frankovitch and fast fingered accompanist Claudia Andres will be performing at the Orange Cat Coffee Company at 1:00 pm on Saturday, August 25, 2012

 

20120821-082539.jpgIf I could sing while I cook and make a fine living I’d quite my delightful day job before you can say Accidental Jazz!

20120821-083938.jpgHave a yummy day!

 

Everybody’s Doing It!

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Well, maybe not everybody…not even very many people but you could make it everybody! :o

If you read my Jude The Foodie column in Below The Falls or on JudeTheFoodie.com (you are likely already here) it would be great if you would “LIKE” me on Facebook.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/JudeTheFoodie 
The thing I love about the Facebook platform is that we can more easily talk to each other. JudeTheFoodie LogoI get a lot of ideas from my Facebook friends so join the crowd – everybody’s doing it!
Have a yummy day! JudeTheFoodie.com

Lewiston NY: The Center of My Universe

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20120620-071307.jpg My first memory of Lewiston NY was being in a grocery store the day President Kennedy was shot. I don’t remember the name of the store. Maybe someone can remind me which grocery stores were in Lewiston at that time. I do remember that there were two of them. Was it the A & P?

20120620-073724.jpg was it Loblaws?
I just remember my mother acting weird then not being able to watch cartoons.

I also remember Jay’s Drug Store and going with my dad to test the tubes in our television.

20120620-074024.jpg I can remember him mumbling “I hope it’s not the picture tube!” As a teen prior to the independence of a drivers license I remember being envious of my friends who lived in the village because they “walked into town” to hang out on the railing on Center Street by Jay’s. They were SO cool!

As soon as I could read my mother would bring me to the library on Saturday.

20120620-074505.jpgWe would get books and sit in those worn leather chairs by the fireplace. When I was old enough the librarians would let me sort the cart and restock books.

20120620-074946.jpgWhen my brother was old enough to drive my mother made him take me to the library. He always complained about it. What teenage boy wants his little sister tagging along? Later I learned he loved it because he got to hang out with his friends but just complained to irritate us!

20120620-072524.jpg I received my First Holy Communion at St. Peter’s RC Church on Plain Street and was the first Confirmation class, in 1971, in the “new” “oh my God that’s so modern what were they thinking” church on Center Street.

20120620-072542.jpg While they were building the new church we went to church in the school hall

20120620-072534.jpg because the church on Plain Street was so small there was overflow.

20120620-071343.jpg I took piano lessons here, across from the convent and original St. Peter School now rectory.

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I remember the sesquicentennial in 1972 and being a part of the 150th celebration at the Red Brick School.

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That same year a bunch of my friends who went on to be part of my 1976 graduating class at Lewiston Porter High School graduated from St. Peter’s School.

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I have many memories of Lewiston…I grew up here…I got married here…I go to church here…I love where I’m from and today the country will begin to know why Lewiston NY is the center of the food universe.

Welcome Mike and Brian, http://blog.bestoftheroad.com/2012/06/12/team-road-bros-en-route/ as they learn and explore #LewistonBest.

20120620-071224.jpgin the words of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard:

Mr. DeMille, we’re ready for our close up!

Have a yummy week!

Jude
JudeTheFoodie.com
Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie
Facebook: Jude The Foodie

Facebook & Social Media Fun

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Greetings Friends!

It’s time to “like” Jude The Foodie on Facebook…She likes you!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/JudeTheFoodie

Building my website it fun…have people actually read it, well, that’s even more fun.

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Tweet me @JudeTheFoodie as well.

Don’t forget, if you want a message on Twitter to get to me, be sure to start the Tweet with @JudeTheFoodie.

Join the fun by following and Tweeting #LewistonBest during the Rand McNally/USA Today Best of the Road competition coming to Lewiston NY tomorrow.

Have a yummy day!

Jude
JudeTheFoodie.com
Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie
Facebook: JudeTheFoodie

I’m A Foodie With An Olive Oil Problem

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From the World English Dictionary: foodie or foody (‘fu : dI) – n, pl –ies: a person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food.

It started innocently enough, substituting Folgers by the pound, Prepared at home for the buying and sipping experience of Starbucks then later Tim Horton’s and Orange Cat. Then I would drive 35 miles to the Galleria to buy Madagascar vanilla at Williams Sonoma (trust me, it really does make a difference). Later, a mini-microplane (I have a medium one, too) allowed me to grate nutmeg (you know, the actual nut) into both sweet and savory dishes.

A few years ago I arrived in Southern California on my birthday and my dear friends took me to the Napa rose at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland in Anaheim. We all had tastes of each other’s meal and shared a dish of lobster macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. It was difficult to share because it was one of the most wonderful things I have ever eaten. So good, in fact, that at the end of my conference I went back to the restaurant all by myself, ordered a crisp California Chardonnay, put my feet up on the fire pit (it is encouraged, actually) and ate another delectable dish of the best lobster mac and cheese ever. Period.

While I was there I took pictures of my food, and Tweeted about my few moments in culinary heaven. Upon returning home I ran into a long time friend, Dan Gagliardo, at Macri’s (they are all family) and he told me he was following my truffle oil adventure. He told me about a store which was going to sell high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Good luck with that, I thought! Who is going to go to a store just to buy olive oil? Of course, when a dear friend and neighbor told me about the Food Network I wondered who on earth would watch cooking shows all day. Looking back, I think that is when the whole foodie thing began to take shape. Before that I did not know what I did not know. I bought coffee by the pound, vanilla in a small brown bottle, nutmeg in a small tin and olive oil in a huge plastic bottle at Sam’s Club.

That was then.

The first time I went into D’Avolio’s in Lewiston I thought my head would spin off … so much oil and vinegar, so little time (and money!). But, after the first taste (on little bits of DiCamillo’s bread) I was done forever. The Tuscan Herb is my go-to oil and I use it on almost anything I cook with. I have even made oatmeal with bananas that are cooked in a little of this oil.

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The 18-year Balsamic Vinegar is smooth, like butter. It finishes on your tongue like savory syrup but without that heavy feeling. Pair it with the Tuscan Herb whenever oil and vinegar is called for and you can never go wrong.

Once I used those items for a while I began going back and buying one thing. Perhaps fruit flavored oil like Blood Orange or Persian Lime or white balsamic vinegar like Honey Ginger or Grapefruit. Each has a distinct flavor and can be substituted in your favorite dishes. Be bold. Try new flavor combinations. If you hate it, order out!

If you get the chance to talk to Dan about his stores you will learn about his passion for health and quality ingredients. His excitement about the health benefits of olive oil make the mission of D’Avolio easy to understand. He has a devotion to his grandmother which embodies her visceral understanding about good ingredients. Mama D’Avolio knew olive oil was good 100 years before you could read about its benefits on WebMD.

Dan carries the family devotion forward. His three daughters are involved in the business which has grown from the store in Lewiston to one in Williamsville, Buffalo and East Amherst. He has many employees who love to share their passion for fine ingredients. Joey (a favorite non Gagliardo of mine) is a wonderful guide and daughter Tiffany wraps a mean package. I so admire someone who can tie a perfect bow.

So, was Danny crazy when he told me about opening up an oil and vinegar store? Perhaps a little but the success he has had by providing me with the finest ingredients I can find to prepare food for those I love makes me happy he took this chance.

Build it and they will come? Oh … people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

Links: http://disneyland.disney.go.com/grand-californian-hotel/napa-rose/?name=…

http://www.davolios.com/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/all-about-olive-oil

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097351/quote

—————–

Celebrating 2011 — a yummy year

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The Foodie:

It has not even been a year since we started sharing a few minutes together every Thursday but we have done a lot of things this year.

As I wrote this compilation of the year I realized if I actually included all of the food I cooked, recipes I created, restaurants I have tried and wines I have tasted, I could write a column every day.

What fun this is!

This year:

We found inspiration from:

Emilia Romagna region in Italy
Cheese
Gardening
Summer
My mother
Canning
Failure
Pressure cooking
Parties

Things we celebrated:

Sabre’s Hockey Playoffs
Kentucky Derby
Grand Opening of Melloni’s
Lewiston Tour of Kitchens
Niagara Wine Trail Food and Wine Festival
Being family
Lewiston Art Festival
Peach Festival
Thanksgiving
Christmas
New Year

Drink recipes we shared:

Mint Juleps
Sangria
Limoncino

Food recipes we shared:

Rubbed Bourbon Ribs
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Chicken & Tomatoes
Grilled Steak
Grilled peach pound cake
Tomato Puree
Tomato Sauce
Vegetable beef soup
Christmas Cookies
Turkey stuffing
Cranberries
Turkey sandwiches

Food we grew:

Parsley
Rosemary
Garlic chives
Thyme
Sage

Food we ate:

Parmigiano Reggiano
Prosciutto di Parma
Yancey’s XXX Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Yancey’s Double Cream Cheddar Cheese
Steamed Clams
Artichoke French
Black Raspberry Frozen Custard
Rigatoni and meat sauce
Eggplant Rollatini
Rice Balls
Calamari
Creamy Potato Bacon Soup
Chicken Fingers
Corned Beef Hash and Poached Eggs
Specialty Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Osso Bucco
Bone Marrow Salad
Soft boiled egg on wild mushrooms, arugula and creamy polenta

Drinks we tried:

Marjim Manor:
Jewel in the Crown
Appley Ever After
True Blue
Cat’s Meow
Black Willow Winery
Bare Cat Blush
Odin’s Nectar
Cabernet Franc
Chardonnay
Trilogy Red and Trilogy White
Chateau Niagara
Chardonnay
Riesling
Gewurtztraminer
Cayuga White
A La Mode
Water Street Landing
Sea Breeze
Madras
Hops-N-Vines
Massaya Classic Red
Predator 2010 Old Vine Zinfande
Rock and Vine Cabernet Saugignon
Les Cigales de Montirius Cote Du Rhone
Eataly
Espresso
Orange Cat
Coffee

Food and Wine People We Chat With:

Anne Macri, Gary Macri
Annie (Brennan’s)
Lewiston Tour of Kitchens
Carmelo Raimondi (Carmelo’s)
Kevin Robertson (Wine on Third)
Richard Schwertfager (DiCamillo Bakery)
Christian Willmott (The Nines Catering Company)
Aimee Loughtan (The Village Bake Shoppe)
Chris Connelly (Kinetic Kitchens)
Dan Gagliardo
Diane and Lou Melloni
Karen Fellow & Kim Lee
Kurt Minervino and Chris Salada
Margo Sue Bittner, Cindy Chanberlain, Jim and Kathy Baker
Michael Broderick and Robin Faulring
My mother and mother-in-law
My son
Tom Tower
Vinny Bevilaqua, Mike Ciulkowski

Places We Visited Below the Falls:

Brennan’s
Casey’s Malt Shoppe
D’Avolio
Hibbard’s
Hops-N-Vines
Lewiston Art Festival
Macri’s Italian Grille
My backyard
Orange Cat
Water Street Landing
Black Willow Winery
Chateau Niagara

Places We Visited Beyond the Falls

Eataly, (New York, NY)
Pizzeria Molto (Fairfield, CT)
Gina Tina Ristorante Italiano (Bronx. NY)
Bambino (Buffalo, NY)

Thank you for joining me on my food and wine travels. I look forward to 2012 and invite you to send me suggestions of places to eat, food to try or wines to drink.

We had a yummy year … cheers. See you next year!

The Foodie: Watching mom bake pies stirred original interest in cooking

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Little did I know when I e-mailed Tim Schmitt some ideas I had for his concept web-news site that he would invite me to be a food and wine columnist. After only a few pieces he now calls me “The Foodie.” It’s a self-proclaimed title I use because of my ongoing interest of all things culinary.

My food memories cannot be separated from any other childhood memories because food has been central to it all. As far back as I can remember I used to sit at the kitchen table on any given Saturday afternoon (after the hankies were ironed and baseboards dusted – my weekly chores) and watch my mother bake pies. Fruit in season, fruit from cans, puddings and custard … the filling did not matter as much as the crust.

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She had the “touch” … that special skill which knew just the right measurements, just the way to cut the fat into the flour and just the right amount of ice water to lightly toss until the mess became a soft ball nearly ready for the wooden pin (an old smooth commercial pin with the tiny handles removed – she said she “felt” the dough better when she held the pin, not the handles).

Mom does not make many pies these days … says she lost the touch. Still, her crust is better than any bakery and any red box.

I grew up eating cornflake chicken and beef stroganoff. She made us tuna noodle casserole (casseroles were big in the ‘60’s and ’70’s) and chicken cutlets. Homemade spaghetti sauce (seriously, it’s macaroni, not pasta in our house) along with perfect meatballs and braciole made with beef pounded thin filled with a stuffing which included hard boiled eggs. Food was always homemade. We used to beg to have TV dinners and we only got them when they had plans on a Saturday night.

As an adult, I learned to cook mostly by trial and error. We have eaten most of my mistakes but there are also times when the need to order a pizza became apparent. I have a friend who shares my passion for food and when Denise invites me for any meal I know I am in for a treat. We used to plan dinner parties by reviewing 15 cookbooks and 25 cooking magazines. We would test recipes so we would know the actual time of preparation (if you are inexperienced add 50 percent to the time stated).

I started writing a holiday journal about 10 years ago. In it, I write out the menu for the meal, who attended and the outcome. I also try to jot a few memories of my year down and enjoy reading the entries each year.

Food Network has expanded my skill and interest. Since I started watching cooking shows I have a much better attitude about the outcomes in my kitchen. What’s the worst thing that could happen? We order out … no worries.

I would really like to learn about you. Why do you cook? Do you enjoy it or do you fear it? Is there a food memory you have that you would like some help with? Maybe I could help find that recipe or try to recreate it.

Do you have food memories from growing up you would like to share? What are you doing to pass that along to your family?

What can we learn together to help you enjoy playing with your food?

Have a yummy week!