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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Birthday Treats and Always Being A Mom

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This guy is 22 today. The beanie hat has been replaced by a briefcase but he did have a ride in the subway today…to work.

Even 10 years ago I would have baked a treat and gone to school with fresh pressed cider from a local farm and shared with his class. One year, when my grandmother passed away my husband did treat duty. Otherwise it was a tradition I enjoyed without reserve.

Birthday cakes were homemade in our house growing up and we did the same for our kids. Every year we would get their feedback and create the treat of choice. We made a big deal of preparing and packaging the confections and it made their birthday even more special.

Perhaps the best compliment my sister ever received from my foodie niece came a few years back when one of her classmates celebrated her birthday at school.

My sister asked her what the treats were.

“Oh, they were ok. Cupcakes.”

My sister reminded her she loved cupcakes and she responded:

“But Mommy, they were from the STORE!”

Happy birthday to my 22 year old baby. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be able to visit your client this afternoon with some freshly pressed Niagara County cider and homemade brownies.

Have a yummy (birth)day!

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It’s Big Anne’s Birthday!

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As you can see from this picture, my mother comes by the name “Big Anne” honestly. Ok, well it may not be so apparent next to my son who is at least a foot taller than her.

She is “Big Anne” because even though she has a small stature she has a very big reach.

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 When we were kids all she had to do was look at us and we would straighten up. The pool was in our backyard and my cousins towered over her but just one crack of the window and we would all freeze frame on the pool deck.

Here are my top 10 nuggets from my mom:

10. Thanks for making me spell the word A.T.T.I.T.U.D.E. when I was a kid. As it turns out, a good one is nearly all you need to live a good life.

9. You were right about not fighting with my sister and pulling all her long straight hair out when we were kids because she ended up being my best friend.

8. Homemade birthday cakes really are better. Thanks for that!

7. You will always be my Miss America to me. I remember watching the pageant every year and being envious of their long legs and their long hair and before she would kiss me good night she would give me that affirmation…a very sweet memory. We also got to meet several of them and go to dinner with them because somehow my father booked their first public appearance at his car dealership for the new car introduction. Amazing when I think back…

6. Treating your mother-in-law well is just another way to show your husband you love him. Thank you for modeling that for me.

5. I’m no better than anyone else. BUT, no one is better than me. Wow…I just love that one…

4. You want to do it, then do it. She was way before Nike’s time!

3. Think about how long you think something will take and double it. God I wish I paid attention to that one more…

2. Friends may come and go but family is forever.

1. Faith, family and food…and if you can have all three at the same time you are triply blest.

20120926-131632.jpgHappy birthday to my most wonderful mother!

Have a yummy day!

My Dad: The “I’ll Have an Egg” Generation

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Senior Prom 1976!

Here is how it would go:

Sometime in the 1960′s…

Dad: I think I’ll have an egg.

Mom: Okay, how would you like it?

Dad: Fried, over easy…no, soft boil it with toast. Do we have Italian bread?

Mom: No, only whole wheat and Wonder Bread for the kids sandwiches for lunch.

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Dad: Okay, forget the soft boiled. How about scrambled?

Mom: Sure, do you want some bacon? I could make you bacon.

Dad: No, do you have any Italian sausage?

Mom: I do, in the freezer. I could defrost it.

Dad: That would take forever. Do you have any peppers?

Mom: I do. I could cook them up with some potatoes. I’ll scramble the eggs in that. How does that sound?

Dad: That sounds great.

45 minutes later, frying pans, mixing bowls in the sink and a satiated husband, my mother took care of my father because he wanted an egg.

Out of context, this conversation sounds archaic, with my oppressed mother serving her overbearing husband.

It is anything but that. It is the way they were. The roles were clearly defined. My mother cooked the meals for our family. My father had no clue in the kitchen.

He did, however, know his way around the grill. For all of the years I saw my mother cook and bake I never saw her cooking on the grill. Never.

My dad would cook a steak just like they did at John’s Flaming Hearth. http://www.flickr.com/photos/epinym/113551957/
He actually went into the kitchen and asked. I believe it was Lowrey’s Seasoned Salt and onion powder on one side and garlic powder and pepper on the other.

I used to love to go outside and watch him grill and ask him things. Important things like “why do cars come in fancy named colors when it’s really just blue?” or “how can you tell when a dealer has a good hand in blackjack?”

I was telling my friend Joanne about my blog today and she told me a story that mirrors my own:

She and her mom were in a very serious automobile accident almost 30 years ago. Joanne was released from the hospital before her mother who had many surgeries and other complications. About a week before she was potentially going to be released she was in her bed in a coma-like state.

When her father heard she may be released from the hospital by the weekend he said “when she gets home, do you think she’ll make me a pot of sauce?”

In a miracle like curing of the sick, her mom opened her eyes and said “Go to hell!”

Her father’s reply: okay, I guess I’ll just have to go to the Como!

These guys came from a different time.

My father was my illusive hero. He worked tons of hours and fit way more fun into his schedule than my husband can. In dad’s time fathers were not in the delivery room nor expected to call a babysitter when an evening out as a couple occurred.

Dad has been gone for almost 20 years. I sometimes cannot believe it because I can still hear his voice. He was my cheerleader and chief dreamer of dreams. My dad was HUGE long before that guy on TV. He left an enormous footprint.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there.

Blessings also to my husband who gets to celebrate his birthday and Father’s Day the same day!

Have a yummy day!

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