A happy Passover to all readers celebrating tonight. The bread recipe will keep. 🙂
Please welcome reader Penny for today’s interview.
- Name, family, website : Penny, mother of 2 boys, from Penniless Parenting.
- Describe your family meals growing up. My mom used to make exotic dishes, and my friends jokingly referred to my mother’s seaweed and mold soup. They didn’t realize that seaweed and fungus soup was just an interesting name for fancy mushroom Japanese soup. That and Indian Muligatoni soup were typical dishes in our home. My mother and father both cooked, and though our ancestry is more European, they avoided “boring” European food and preferred foods from all over Asia. My father is a cardiologist, so we’d also stick with by-the-book healthy. Our meals were also low-budget meals, with occasional splurges.
Though we ate exotically, my mother is not an “adventurous” cook. She doesn’t enjoy cooking and believes certain things “should not be mixed.” The mere idea of those “strange combinations” grosses her out.
- How is your cooking style different from your mother’s? Cooking is an art, and I won’t let possible failures stand in the way of discovering new and delicious foods. I cook dishes from all over the world, including Indian, Scottish, Irish, Mexican, Greek, Hungarian, South African, Nigerian, Korean, and Egyptian dishes. I avoid Chinese-style foods, as my husband doesn’t enjoy them. I’ve started cooking more traditional foods (traditional worldwide, that is), convinced that they are more delicious and healthy than modern foods.
- How did you learn to cook? By helping my mom. I started off as her “taste tester” for soups—I’d add more spices as needed. From there I branched into salads, and then I made food from scratch.
- Do you entertain? What is the biggest event you have ever hosted? I entertain occasionally. This weekend I am hosting the 7 members of my immediate family, the biggest it generally gets. The largest party I hosted was cooked ahead of time and frozen: a party to celebrate the birth of our second son. It was in our house and about a hundred people came. And it cost next to nothing, thanks to my forethought.
- Describe a typical daily menu. Breakfast: Oatmeal or raw oats with homemade yogurt. Lunch: Leftovers from the night before, like colcannon (a potato, milk, butter, and cabbage dish). Supper: Fish veggie patties.
- How has your cooking changed over the years? My cooking has evolved from needing to follow a recipe strictly to being able to take a bit from this recipe and a bit from that and make a whole new creation. I also incorporate more whole foods into my cooking (that is, unprocessed, natural traditional foods).
- Can you recommend any cookbooks or websites? I get many recipe ideas from Oceans of Joy, Recipezaar and AllRecipes. I don’t believe in cookbooks because I want recipes for the foods I have, as opposed to buying ingredients for recipes. Unlike cookbooks, the internet allows me the flexibility to find recipes based on a list of ingredients.
- What is the most unusual dish you have ever made? A curried kumquat purple cabbage stir-fry with chicken chunks. It was based on a dish I had made with curried purple sauerkraut sautéed with chicken chunks, only I had no ready sauerkraut, and I had kumquats that were going to go off quickly. It was such a hit that I’m glad I kept the recipe for posterity.
- What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The newest? The oldest item in my kitchen are my dishracks. They came with my apartment and are falling apart. The newest is my citrus juicer press. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I am psyched to try.
- What changes would you like to make in the coming year? I just stocked up on palm oil; I want to phase canola and soybean oil out of our diets and replace it with rendered chicken fat, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil.
- Please share a favorite recipe. That’s hard. But I have to say that the simplest tasty recipe for when I have just a little time and few ingredients is Yemeni Lahuh bread. It’s a sort of spongy pancake bread with simple ingredients:
- 1 kilo flour
- 1.5 liters water
- 2 tablespoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
Mix and let sit for an hour to rise. Scoop ladle-fuls onto a cool, slightly greased, non-stick frying pan. Spread it around so you have a flattish, thinnish layer of batter. Let it cook on medium heat until there is just the tiniest little raw spot left, and then flip it over for a minute. Slide it out of the pan, let the pan cool down, and repeat.
This tastes great with tahini spread or eggplant salad.
Thank you, Penny, for the delicious recipe, and for giving us a glimpse into your kitchen.
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