5 Questions: Jerry Rothstein

 
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Earnest, engaged, and wise slow-goer, in the kitchen and in life: meet Jerry Rothstein. Longtime news and copy editor and Gestalt therapist, Jerry shares his mindful approach to food shopping, home cooking, and to the slow savoring of the food we eat. 

What does eating well look like for you?

Eating well is a process that includes getting the ingredients, cooking them, the eating
itself, clean up and digestion. I like to be able to devote enough time to this process so
that I can experience it fully. At the heart of it, the decision on what to cook and serve,
involves me in looking for balance of flavors, textures, nutrition and aesthetics.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you?

We love salmon, having lived for many years on the West Coast of Canada. A simple
broiled fillet packs nourishment, flavor, texture and nutrients in a very easy cooking
cycle. Sides of green vegetable and, perhaps, steamed little red or yellow potatoes with
butter and rosemary complete the main course.

Can you share a defining food memory?

There are many, as our Jewish household did attend to food above all. Ironically, two of
my most pleasant food memories involve eating out and not kosher (though I did not
know it at the time). On our train trips to visit mother’s sister, the sandwich man would
come through and I would always ask for a chicken sandwich, thinly sliced white meat,
fresh white bread, mayo. Perfect. And one year when I had to be taken to an allergist for
shots, my mother would buy us lunch at a diner nearby that had the best hamburgers I
had ever tasted. Juicy! (Kosher burgers tend toward dryness.)

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

As a psychotherapist, I am always coming back to the deep need for chewing, both
literally and metaphorically. Food should include elements that really need to be chewed
up, a way to appropriately use our aggressive energy. Digestion, absorption of nutrients
and equally important, elimination of wastes, serves as a model applicable to a lot in our
lives.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

A tasting menu of the freshest, ripest fruits, and some chocolate wafer biscuits.

5 Questions: Liz Avery

 
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Meet Liz Avery, master knitter, teacher, and scrappy solo cook. When she’s not working, or hiking, or rollerblading, or finishing crosswords and drinking coffee, or skating for her local roller derby club, or engaged in her board-game or trivia group, Liz is impressively pulling together a delicious hodgepodge to fuel her uniquely active life.

What does eating well look like for you?

Prepared at home, in a simple manner, and with a bit of impromptu creativity thrown in. This is the way my mom cooked, and she loves to tell the story about me chiding her when I was a teenager: “Can’t you just follow what the recipe says?” But this kind of flexibility in my cooking helps me honor economy, tailor a meal to my preferences, and is a favorite kind of puzzle. My friends tease me for loving leftovers, but I love the thrift and ease of enjoying a dish for many meals. I mostly make a batch of something, then eat it all week. Usually it’s a curry with rice or quinoa, a pan of something - or a stew. Interspersed are salads, and eggs for at least one meal a day. There’s usually a plethora of fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge as well, so those are usually my snacks and are packed into dishes probably more than is enjoyable to most people.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you?

Usually eggs and veggies find their way into a wrap, onto toast, or atop leftover rice with garlic, greens and toasted sesame seeds.

What I called ‘impromptu creativity’ comes from my tenuous relationship with most recipes. I’ll start to make a dish, figure out I am missing some percentage of the ingredients, and then make it my personal challenge to make some semblance of the dish only using what’s in my fridge and cupboard.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Any time I’ve ever had freshly fried cake donuts. Just plain, no sugar or icing. The time I had apple cider donuts hot out of the fryer at the orchard in Champaign, IL - that was living.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

In a past life, I sourced foods for a small business and I worked on an organic farm, so I appreciate the relationships businesses and consumers can have with small distributors and producers. For this reason, I have particular loyalty to my favorite coffee roasters, and will always seek out a farmer’s market in season. I’m also interested in thoughts around eating out vs. eating in. I am secretly someone who will always prefer to eat at home or at someone else’s table over going out to a restaurant. It turns out I consistently feel overwhelmed with choices on a restaurant menu. I prefer to indulge in providing or sharing special foods I love at home, where things are more casual. I rarely eat out as a convenience, but only on special occasions, for a meal I crave and can’t do justice to at home.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

Any pizza from Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (in Madison, WI) with red sauce and an antipasto with garlic confit on a perfectly-toasted baguette with a fresh greens salad and a Lake Louie’s Reserve Warped Speed Scotch Ale.

Paper Boat

 
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On this day, one year ago, I fashioned this paper boat and set it in the flow of the Mississippi River. My husband was quite ill, and we weren’t sure where the illness would go. With great difficulty I decided to let my latest project, Goosefoot, go, since I felt compelled to turn all my energy towards his health. Goosefoot felt like a guilty-pleasure, like something I needed to trade in.
***
And now. One year beyond the paper boat, beyond the trauma of that moment in time, my husband is thriving. The boat, I should mention (and please laugh), failed to do the romantic and drift off that morning. It stuck itself into grasses at the river’s edge, capsized and sank before my eyes. Life is strange. And quite beautiful and disheveled and always surprising.

5 Questions: Karen Kopacz

5 Questions: Karen Kopacz

Meet Karen Kopacz, true Renaissance woman. As a busy artist, designer, storyteller, and explorer, Karen is generally folded into a dozen purposeful, creative projects at any given time. But she also values pause, a mid-week walk in the woods, and as I can attest to, long and engaging meals with those in her life.

What does eating well look like for you?

I am a busy creative and I live and work alone, so my eating patterns can get a little chaotic. Balancing meals is a challenge and I’m always working on it. I love sharing beautiful meals in a relaxed way with others, and often do. It’s also not unusual that I am running out the door with a meal in a bag. For me, eating well means that the food I buy is healthy, but also that I am doing my best to support businesses and restaurants that participate in a healthy food system. It means that I enjoy what I eat, and share experiences around food. And, that sometimes my meal is a slice of cheese, a handful of blueberries, Castelvetrano olives and some unsalted nuts, and that’s just fine too, because I’m buying quality food.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

Dolphin-safe tuna from a can mixed with sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, safflower mayo, lemon, Sriracha or chili oil, sea salt, pepper. (Less than 10 minutes to make. Make a sandwich, tuna melt, or mix into a salad.)

Can you share a defining food memory?

Almost a decade ago, I stopped offering pro bono design services to acquaintances who didn’t have a design budget, and instead offered to trade an evening of strategy and design if they would come to my house with a bottle of wine and cook a meal for us to share. With food, dreams, and discussion on the horizon of every session, I was able to be of service and fill my house with energy. These sessions were productive, memorable, and joyful. With food as the hub, and our well-fed bodies and brains, we created some lovely, collaborative experiences together. Some of my most valued friendships began this way. Echoes of this arrangement still exist, sometimes in the homes of others. Anytime design, food, and a meeting of the minds intersect, I feel very grateful.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I think food is medicine. My grandmother used to say, “If you don’t eat well, you pay to the doctor.” I believe in good food, real food, and working toward good habits around food. I say “working toward” because I do not want to associate feelings of guilt with food, and my habits are far from perfect. I may not cook often, in the traditional sense, but good food is as important to me as nature, art, and love. Lately, I don’t have it in me to grow food, but have been spending a lot of time in nature, and have been curious about foraging. I’m very familiar with identifying plants from countless walks with my mother, a master gardener, and a long-time friend who is an herbalist. But now I’m learning how to identify more of what is edible, and when and where to gather food. I ask a lot of questions, listen to the occasional podcast, and read articles. But it’s actually doing it (carefully and safely) that helps me connect my food to seasons, ecosystems, and the environment. And, it’s yet another way to share joyful experiences with others around food. 

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

This could change on any given day, but today… First course: sashimi tuna with wasabi and radicchio and a glass of Château Bréjou Bordeaux (from my dad’s weirdly unending supply of French wine). Main course: wood-fired pizza with ramps and morels. Desert: cardamom and rose rice pudding with pistachios, a rose and honey chocolate, and, since I’m dying, I’ll go ahead and have a Pimm’s Provencal and a Bistro Bijou. (This makes no sense as a meal, but who cares.) Add 50 of my closest friends and a farm table outside on a spring day, and I’m already in heaven.

5 Questions: Tony Grossman

5 Questions: Tony Grossman

Meet Tony Grossman, seriously active dad to three animated, freckle-faced kids, and owner and beginner- farmer at Earnest Acres Farm in Wisconsin. He is the chief cook in the family, a sustainable-farming advocate, and as you’ll see, a prolific taco maker.

What does eating well look like for you?

Eating well, for me, would include: produce that is seasonal and locally-sourced as possible, meats that are not tainted with antibiotics, hormones, or torture/immoral living conditions, and grains that are whole and diverse. Eating well also mandates a comfortable space, shared with loved ones and anyone who is hungry. It demands calmness and gratitude towards those who sacrificed to either grow or be the food, and gratitude towards those who cook the food.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

Breakfast Tacos. I lived in central Texas for 3 years of my life and can proudly say that for most of those mornings I had a breakfast taco. Why we bold northerners have not figured out that this is the most efficient and wholesome way to start a morning, I do not know. Tacos are easy to make, and can include almost anything from your fridge if paired and cooked right. Maybe I love them because I don’t like to follow recipes and you can wing tacos in every way; they are the easiest conduit for getting eggs and veggies into my children. Maybe I love them because other than coffee, nothing smells better than fried onions in the morning. I’m not sure, but my family always seems to be happy after a good breakfast taco.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Upon moving back to Minnesota I serendipitously landed a job at the Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli as a produce worker. I worked alongside intelligent lovers of food and sustainable farming practices, people striving to eat better and support a local food system. After three years I was totally and completely inspired to grow as much food as possible in as many places as possible. I was inspired to eat whole foods grown sustainably and to provide seasonally-appropriate meals (as often as possible anyway) to my children, no matter the cost to the food budget.    

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I love to grow food. I love to experiment with growing food. So naturally any knowledge or information pertaining to this peaks my interest. One of my favorite things is to listen to older generations talk about the past, but growing food in particular is fascinating for me. Beyond this I am interested in advancing towards change in our food system. I believe that in some ways our country’s system of eating and distributing food has led us down a path of poor health. I believe we need to motivate future generations to learn how to grow their own food and to support a cooperative model of food sharing.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

For sure it would be a meal prepared by someone else. Food always tastes better to me whenever someone else cooks it. I would probably demand a full Indian-style buffet banquet with paneer in every dish.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Dear Dad,

Something strange happened while I was on the floor of my office, fingering through a bottom row of cookbooks on that short red shelf, as I pulled Beyond the Great Wall, a Chinese cookbook you gave me years ago, that wide and hefty thing, another book fell into my lap simultaneously called From the Kitchens of Belfast 1975, worn and construction-paper bound that had come nearly out of its plastic spiral spine, I thought what is this, I hadn’t remembered it, but I was right away enthralled since I lived in Ireland and finished culinary school there, but you already know that, and when I opened to the first page there was a stamp marked The Hamakers, Box 5494, Kingsport, TN 37663, your parents and I’ve no idea how to put it together since they never lived in Ireland and I’ve no food memories whatsoever related to them, all but Grandma’s busy tin of Christmas cookies, but what was strange was this: my reason for pulling Beyond the Great Wall off the shelf in the first place was to research a recipe I was developing for vegetable fried rice, and while flipping through From the Kitchens of Belfast 1975 noticing the book weighing heavily on desserts and casseroles and only a single page devoted to vegetables, I turned there to that one page and there it was, fried rice, a recipe recorded under the vegetable category, fried rice, and this was the entire recipe:

5 Questions: Hilary Gebauer

 
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Hilary knows a lot about good eating. She is a practicing dietician by profession, a mother/feeder to a young daughter, and has worked with CSA farms and farmers markets in various capacities. All around, she is a lover of food, especially bread. Read on…  

What does eating well look like for you?

For me, eating well means eating with intention. That might mean cooking up a family recipe that reminds me of my childhood, picking out veggies at the farmers market in summer and letting them inspire the menu for the week, finding a new recipe or method of cooking and trying it out, or it might mean sitting down in front of the TV with takeout after a long week. When I'm eating with intention, I'm able to check in with myself and know what I'm needing, both nutritionally and emotionally. 

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

Right now, I'd probably say bread. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where my mom baked all of our bread from scratch every week. I'm trying to continue the tradition with my own daughter, so I try to keep a few loaves of sliced, homemade bread in the freezer at all times. A quick dinner of grilled cheese or a snack of cinnamon toast is never far away for a hungry toddler when you have bread in the freezer! 

Can you share a defining food memory?

Just one? I grew up hating fish, but one of my best food memories is of eating fish. When I was 18 I had the opportunity to travel by canoe in the Northwest Territories for 45 days with YMCA Camp Widjiwagen. We ate what we carried with us, so we didn't really have anything fresh the whole trip. We hardly saw another human, but right at the end we ran into some fishermen. We told them about our trip and they immediately insisted we take their daily catch. That night we had fresh arctic char, pulled straight from the lake and cooked in a foil packet with butter (oh that butter!) potatoes, onions and carrots. It was such a simple meal, but probably one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

Oh goodness, where do I start! I'm a public health dietitian by training so I have a lot of professional interests in food. But I also love to cook and eat and share food with friends and family so there are a lot of topics that are of personal interest to me as well. The thing that spans both my personal and professional interests is helping people have a good relationship with food that leads them toward wholeness, and that is going to look different for everyone. But I love helping people have a positive connection with food, seeing them get excited about trying something new or learning a different way to view nutrition.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

My mom's homemade bread. Or my husband's homemade pizza. Or maybe a reuben sandwich with my sister-in-law's homemade sauerkraut and my brother's pastrami, he's really good a smoking pastrami. I suppose I would just want it to be something made with love, by someone I love!

 

 

5 Questions: Jen Prestegaard

 
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I'm so delighted to introduce you to my friend and longtime client (or 'eater' as I like to call those I support in the kitchen), Jen Prestegaard. Her charm is certainly reflected in her daughter's face in this photo. I have always admired Jen's zeal for good food, and her determination to share this energy with her own family, most importantly her two young daughters.

What does eating well look like for you?

When I am eating well, I am sharing a meal in the company of others. A nourishing start to my day includes a yogurt bowl with fresh berries, nuts and perhaps even cocoa nibs or chocolate chips. All washed down by a cappuccino in a mug made by someone who knows my name. Greens for lunch and a hot meal for dinner that I've planned ahead. I am off my game when I have a line-up of disposable coffee cups and pastry bags in my car. If you see me with a Taco John's bag, it usually means I need an intervention.

What is a favorite and reliable everyday dish for you and your family?

At the ripe age of 42, I have perfected the art of the take-out dinner. The Trader Joe's stir-fry bag with an over easy egg, pasta/peas/cheese and Friday night pizza delivery were once standbys. I have grown more confident and adept with Goosefoot's meal planning service however and now love warming up a homemade chowder or soup from the freezer, whipping up an omelet or throwing together a pasta sauce. Brinner (breakfast dinner) is a always a solid win in our house because the kids love bacon, pancakes, cheesy eggs and all the accessories.

Can you share a defining food memory?

Like most, all food memories lead to my mother. My mom devoured cookbooks when she was alive and I remember her (at least weekly) concocting a recipe for a work potluck. Her specialty was the appetizer although most involved a frightening amount of cream cheese. Her holiday dinners were massive spreads. The twice-baked potatoes, the red hot jello salad, the head of cauliflower doused in bearnaise sauce and nearly a dozen tupperware containers of cookies. Without fail, we'd be halfway into a holiday meal and Mom would exclaim that she'd left the crescent rolls in the oven and burnt them to a crisp.  

Traveling took my taste buds captive and changed everything. A frisee aux lardons salad in Times Square before a Broadway show, fresh macarons from Laduree in Paris and every morsel tasted in Sonoma County. The Macaroni and Cheese Gratin and roasted red pepper soup at Underwood Bar is my most memorable meal ever. And I want to start every day at the Inn at Occidental with their breakfast buffet and fresh granola, proceed to wine and cheese hour and drift off to bed with hot cookies and cocoa.

What topics around food are you most interested in, and why?

I'm very interested in enjoying the simplicity of food. For too many decades, food was confusing. The food labels, to meat or not to meat, the calories, superfoods, the cooking shows, bulk shopping, cleanses, slow cookers, aargh...I just want to eat real food that makes me feel good and know that it came from a good place. My greatest hope is that my children develop a relationship with food that empowers and inspires them.

I have to ask. What would you hope for as a last meal on this earth?

After much thought, I want to have my last meal at the lake cabin.  Grilled turkey and fresh corn on the cob with butter dripping off it.  I want a salad that tastes good (absent the iceberg lettuce and bottled salad dressings I grew up on).  And I want my mom's homemade strawberry pie . . . like only she could make it.

Traveling took my taste buds captive and changed everything. A frisee aux lardons salad in Times Square before a Broadway show, fresh macarons from Laduree in Paris and every morsel tasted in Sonoma County. The Macaroni and Cheese Gratin and roasted red pepper soup at Underwood Bar is my most memorable meal ever. And I want to start every day at the Inn at Occidental with their breakfast buffet and fresh granola, proceed to wine and cheese hour and drift off to bed with hot cookies and cocoa.