I am an engineer, a wife, and a mom. I just retired from General Motors after 38 years – 34 of that were spent in Engineering. I am going to enjoy a fantastic Michigan summer while I figure out what to do next. I am married to Don and we just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary last month. I have two daughters, Katharine and Elizabeth. Katharine just graduated from Michigan State, and will do her student teaching in Chicago in the fall. Elizabeth is studying business at Western Michigan.
What is your fondest food memory?
Graham Cracker Pie! This is a dessert that my grandmother made at the holidays, and my entire family went nuts for it. We ate the leftovers for breakfast. It is basically a cooked vanilla custard in a cinnamon-y graham cracker crust, topped with more crumbs. I am now the designated family Graham Cracker Pie maker – and I make 8 of them every Thanksgiving and Christmas, because everyone wants one to take home! It is a labor of love, because I literally dirty every pot and pan in my kitchen in the process.
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
Before retiring, I started looking at the list of volunteer opportunities that General Motors posts on our company website. The program sounded just perfect for me – and so far, it is!
What are your hobbies?
Cooking, of course! My favorite day is Saturday, when I start at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market. I get inspired by ingredients, and then spend Sunday in the kitchen cooking and prepping for the week ahead. I also love to walk, do crossword puzzles, travel (doing the planning is almost as good as the going) and putter in my back yard. Now that I am not working, I would like to see if I can get better at golf. I love to play with my husband.
Why does cooking matter to you?
Cooking is just the precursor to having my family together around the table. It is fun for me to find new recipes and try them out on my family. And cooking is the very best way to make sure that the money I spend on food is not wasted. Again, since I am not working, it has become a game to see how I can use everything in the refrigerator without waste.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?
Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts! I love the Smitten Kitchen blog – and I stole this from there. It has become a family favorite. I just made it yesterday – and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day!
Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts "Please consider this a tale of two recipes, one that’s bare bones (add the raisins, walnuts and crumbs without the extra prep) and one if you’d like to get a little more depth from each. Both work, but the slightly longer prep (toasting the nuts, the crumbs in olive oil, plumping the raisins, etc.) really makes the salad sing and will not be regretted. You can choose your own adventure, too, doing more for some ingredients and less for others.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces 1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon water 1/4 cup panko (15 grams or 1/2 ounce) or slightly coarse homemade breadcrumbs (from a thin slice of hearty bread) 1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed Coarse or kosher salt 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and patted dry 2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total) Juice of half a lemon Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
Directions: Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop. Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid. Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside. Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. I always find removing the ribs annoying with a knife, because the leaves want to roll in on the knife and make it hard to get a clean cut. Instead, I’ve taken to tearing the ribs off with my fingers, which is much easier for me. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise. Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the raisins, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil."