Please welcome Kelly (Elisheva) Milotay from Victoria, BC, Canada. She has three kids – Akiva is 4, Benjy is 2, and Mia is 1, and is expecting another in early summer. She used to be a middle school teacher but is now a full-time stay-at-home-mom. My husband works for the provincial government.
- What do you remember about family meals and your mother’s cooking style when you were growing up? My parents divorced when I was very young so my mom worked and was a single parent. We ate a lot of typical Midwestern fare – fish sticks, cube steak, spaghetti with meat sauce. She did make stir-fry with chicken and lots of snow peas and water chestnuts – very avant-garde for northern Michigan in the 80s
- How is your cooking style different from your mother’s? Living on the West Coast of Canada, I have so many more options than my mother ever did. I’ve eaten things in the past 5 years that I had never even heard of before (dragon fruit, kale, Swiss chard, to name a few). I think we share a commitment to healthy food, though, and making the best for our families. My family also keeps kosher. We live in a place without kosher restaurants or take-out and we have to bring our meat in from off-island (either Seattle or Vancouver). This means we do a lot of whole foods cooking and I’ve learned to make things from scratch that I’d never dreamed of making before like croissants, different types of bread, a mean pizza, Chinese steamed buns (bao), mozzarella cheese and paneer using raw milk, a variety of East Indian dishes …
- What is your favorite gadget? Hmm. I’d have to say it’s a tie between my Kitchen-Aid mixer and my food processor. I’m not a big gadget person.
- Do you entertain, and in what circumstances? With three young kids we almost never entertain – the occasional Shabbat or holiday meal is about it.
- What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date? We had my second son’s bris here at our house and we made all the very simple food for it (bread, salmon salad, cut-up veggies).
- Can you share a typical daily menu? I try to serve protein in the morning as I find it’s what sticks with us – scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, apples and peanut butter, bananas and plain yogurt (remember I’m feeding the under 5 crowd!). I also almost always serve seasonal fruit with breakfast. Lunch is often interchangeable with breakfast with the addition of cut up vegetables and dip – plain yogurt with a little ketchup added, blended cottage cheese with some Montreal Steak Spice thrown in, or hummous. Supper can be anything from hamburgers, to fish patties, to macaroni and cheese, to sausage with cabbage, to homemade spanakopita. My husband is very interested in Asian cuisine and makes delicious noodle dishes and stir-fries over rice or quinoa. I tend not to plan normal menus in advance – I stock up on our “basics” and buy vegetables and fruit that are on sale. I tried menu-planning once for a few weeks but it just doesn’t fit with me right now. Our meals are simple enough (right now my husband is eating low-carb so that simplifies it even further!) that I can decide in the morning what we’re going to eat that night.
- How has your cooking style evolved over the years? When I first got married, I was very tied into high-carb, low protein, processed-food with few vegetables…now we eat pretty healthily with a variety of protein sources, fruits, and vegetables. I’m still a sucker for fresh donuts, though I have to make my own here.
- Can you recommend any cookbooks, TV shows or websites that have inspired you? Most of our cooking is done without recipes. I love YouTube for videos on specific techniques (stretching pizza dough, making roti, making authentic crumpets) For inspiration, I really like Michael Smith’s “Chef at Home” TV show on the Food Network Canada. My husband used to eat out a lot before he started keeping kosher. Now it’s one of his hobbies to try and recreate the mostly Asian dishes that were his favorites. He gets cookbooks at the library to browse until he finds what he wants. If it’s a baked/bread item, I get tipped to make it. He can do the noodles and stir-fries himself.
- What posts on CM have you enjoyed? I enjoyed the series on cooking with kids. Since we almost never eat prepared food or eat out, my kids will definitely need kitchen skills.
- What is the most unusual dish you’ve ever made? Hmmm. Gobhi d’arbari, I think It’s an East Indian dish of cauliflower with tomato sauce (and I put in paneer) served over basmati rice.
- What is the oldest item in your kitchen? I have a Joy of Cooking from 1961 that I love to read. The newest? My Cuisinart 12-cup food processor.
- What would you like to change about your cooking style in the coming year? More vegetables. Less wheat.
- Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tips.
Except for my baked goods, I rarely cook from recipes. Here’s my kids’ current favorite snack:
Ingredient amounts are approximate.
- 1.5 cups raw almonds
- 500 g pitted dates
- ½ cup cocoa powder (I’m pretty sure I usually add more than this – do it to taste)
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whiz almonds in a food processor until they are finely ground (watch out you don’t get almond butter!)
- Add dates, cocoa powder, coconut, and vanilla and process until a dough is formed. If mixture remains crumbly, add a little warm water by tablespoon and continue to process until a dough forms.
- Shape the dough into balls the size of walnuts and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Refrigerate balls until firm.
- Store in refrigerator in a covered container. These never last more than a few days in my house so I’m not sure how long they keep.
Cooking Tips? Gosh. Don’t use recipes. Don’t be afraid to deviate when you do use recipes Add what you think will taste good. To get the hang of using spices that are new to you, get ethnic cookbooks from the library.