Interview Part 3 of 4 | examiner.com | January 21, 2015 | A. Michelle Blakeley
Don’t be afraid to experiment with food. Try something different. You won’t know if you don’t like it unless you try it. For a long time (over 40 years), I turned my nose up at Brussels sprouts. I had envisioned that they were hard and bitter and just “nasty.” Mind you, I had never even bothered to cook or taste one. This was all an assumption I had created in my head. I saw an image of Brussels sprouts browned to perfection and seasoned so well, I could taste it from the page. I was smitten. They looked too good to be true, but I went to the store, bought some Brussels sprouts, got home and prepared the recipe. Needless to say, I am currently addicted to the very vegetable that I had despised all of these years. The first thing I thought was, “My God I have been missing out on something really delicious!” My second thought was, “never again.” I will try everything at least once. Maybe even twice to make sure (by preparing it differently).
More recently, I had my first poached egg. All this time before, I couldn’t get past the thought of the gooey yolk and the whole “it’s not cooked” issue. I made my husband poached eggs for two weeks to improve my technique. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty good. So your lesson today is to try something new, something different. Go out and get something that you sworn off without even trying it. Get it, try it and check off the list or keep it on the list.
It’s Part 3 of my interview with Terry Walters, author of Eat Clean Live Well. I’m reminded to keep an open mind about food, allfood and just continue to enjoy the journey of life. (see Part 1 and Part 2)
What do you think is missing from food scene?
There’s a lot coming into the food scene. I think we’re forgetting where our roots are. But I’m seeing some of that coming back. Whether it’s fermentation or becoming familiar with what grains are or seeds like millet and quinoa. People ask me all the time, “what would I use if I wanted to take out the wheat in a recipe or egg, or the shortening, etc.?” I never learned how to cook the conventional way. So, when I use millet flour and chickpea flour, it’s not because I can’t have wheat. I’m using all of these different ingredients because they have great taste and I love their texture. I love helping people become more aware of all of these other phenomenal ingredients that taste really great and sustain their health, which happen to be good substitutes for things they can’t have.
Is there any food you’ve been dying to try, but for some reason haven’t gotten around to or been able to?
You know, if someone were to recommend something, I would love to try something new. I learn so much from going to the Farmer’s Market. When I’m at the Farmer’s Market and see something I don’t recognize, I force myself to buy it. And I force myself to have that conversation with the farmer. “What is this strange thing?” I feel fairly familiar with quite a variety.
I’ll be in Chicago next month promoting Eat Clean Live Well. And I’m picking restaurants that I know are going to introduce me to new things I haven’t had. I have no culinary education. I’m completely self-taught, so I’m very experimental.
What’s your favorite cookbook?
When I started out, there weren’t a lot of cookbooks that didn’t have dairy or sugar in them. Most of my favorites are the ones that I found along the way and found something inspiring in them or I met the chef and that inspired something in me to continue in the journey. Peter Berley, who wrote The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, taught me how to make sourdough bread. I love his book, it’s an old one, but it’s great. I love the book Plenty. A friend of mine gifted me the Australian version. There are brilliant line drawings and a simple aesthetic in that book that is refreshing and combined with Ottolenghi’s approach to food.
What’s your favorite kitchen gadget?
I love my chef’s knife. When I first started cooking I didn’t really know what I was doing so I had a pot and a food processor. I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with a knife. Even cutting vegetables, I would just throw them in the food processor and then into the pot, so everything was turned into soup.
I really do appreciate my knife. I’m not a really a gadget gal. I’ve got a good cutting board, my knife and I love, love, love my cast iron skillet. That is the best deal in the kitchen; a well seasoned cast iron skillet. You can make anything in it.
Any kitchen pet peeves?
I don’t think so. I started cooking in the most minimal of kitchen with coil burners and I already told you about my “lovely” oven. Today I have a pretty phenomenal kitchen with ventilation, quite the luxury from days past. If anything, it’s running out of storage containers. I hate when I don’t have enough lids for the containers. I don’t know how that happens.
Where do you go or what do you do to unwind after a long day in the kitchen?
I’m actually a runner and that’s my go-to to unwind. I also love to take my dog for a walk and just spend time with my family; a hike in the woods, skiing in the winter. I used to say reading a book, but I spend so much time at the computer, my eyeglass prescription can’t keep up with my visual needs. In the Summer I love being in the garden. I’m not much for sitting, I like to be physically active. If I’m going to sit, it’s to watch my girls and their activities. They are my greatest joy.
This Week’s Featured Recipe | Chinese Cabbage Soup
(Full disclosure: I received a copy of Terry’s book for review. However, all of my reviews, opinions and/or other commentary expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned in my column nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me.)