Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #107
A Slight Departure
On a typical Monday, this is (I hope) your next stop after reading billybuc's mailbag. For two years I've opened my kitchen to you. We sit and share a cup of coffee, joke a bit, and you ask questions about food ingredients and cooking or baking terms. You want recipes, you bring me your concerns about nutrition. Just about anything food-related we talk about here.
This week's offering is a bit different. Just one simple question, but a good one. And, I found that I rambled on and on so much on this one topic that I filled an entire article with the response. (Denise, your questions will be addressed next Monday).
I hope you like today's offering. Next week, your question(s) could be the center of attention. All you need to do is leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.
"Now this is a question about cooking but not recipes. I have this friend who has gotten me into the "Joy of Cooking". Now I do not follow her directions to the T. But I get inspired by her and she has brought good joy into my life. Who inspired you? And by the way that friend is you. (Julia Child reference intentional)"
Eric, I am humbled by your words, and so happy that I have turned you onto the joy of cooking. Actually the author of the original publication “The Joy of Cooking” is Irma Rombauer, not Julia Child, but I have cookbooks by both of them, and those two ladies live and breathe the love of making food for your family.
Your simple question of “who inspired me” comes with a complex answer. So, put your feet up, sit back in a comfy chair, and I’ll tell you a story.
As I’ve said in the past, my mother was a good cook. The meals that came from her kitchen were certainly dependable; nothing fancy or complicated, just simple home-cooking with easy-to-obtain, inexpensive ingredients. That was what I wanted to do when I grew up. And then . . .
Not "Just Like Mom"
I was living my dream, working full-time at a career that I enjoyed. I was married, had two children just 21 months apart, and a lovely home. It seems that the local PBS (Public Broadcast System) channel was at that time the background music for our lives. My husband and I had a house to maintain and “This Old House” gave us the insight we needed for making those repairs. That house came with a large fenced backyard—the perfect place for a vegetable garden and a couple of apple trees. “The Victory Garden,” told us how to do it.
I had a family to feed so I watched cooking shows. Keep in mind that this was the early 1980’s—long before the Food Network, HGTV, or even cable television and its 1,000 channels.
Of course, there was Julia Child, the fearless commander of the kitchen. Julia gave me the courage to try things I had never done before. What I love about her is that she gave all of us permission to fail, revealing that unless the meal is reduced to cinders it can probably be salvaged and only you (the cook) will know that what you are presenting is Plan B (or C) and not the original.
I watched “The Frugal Gourmet,” a local chaplain (Jeff Smith) turned chef who shared his knowledge of the cuisine of faraway places. Under his guidance, the foods of Greece, South America, and Southeast Asia didn’t seem so far away. They were easy, and so my little girls and I would go to the library every Saturday to select picture books for me to read to them at night (and chapter books when they got older), and always one ethnic cookbook from which we would cook Sunday dinner. My children were never picky eaters, and I think this is why.
Mary Ann Esposito’s “Ciao Italia” is the longest-running cooking show on PBS. Until her program, my only knowledge of Italian food was mom’s spaghetti and meat sauce (and I recognize now that it bore no resemblance to the Bolognese I cook for my family). Mary Ann gave me a love for Italian food long before I ever traveled to Tuscany.
Martin Yan of “Yan Can Cook” was full to overflowing with that “joy of cooking.” He has an infectious grin, a great sense of humor, and wicked knife skills!
And then there was Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He, along with Julia, was one of the first TV food entertainers. Born and raised in London, he first stepped in front of the camera in New Zealand in 1960 with “Entertaining with Kerr.” In 1964 he moved to Sydney and became an overnight sensation. A lucrative offer from an American television company brought him to North America in 1969.
He was a "galloping" gourmet because, under the direction of his wife/producer Treena, he began every episode by leaping over the sofa (glass of wine in hand) into the kitchen. That isn't all that was memorable about his program. To say that his cooking was over the top is a gross understatement. Graham was once labeled “the high priest of hedonism” and awarded the Broken Spoon Award by Weight Watchers International for his displays of excess with heavy cream and clarified butter. In response, he quipped “Madam, you could go outside and get run over by a bus and just think what you would have missed!”
Treena always said that if you want to teach people anything, you must, first of all, entertain them. So I set out to be entertaining! The fact that people have such warm memories of The Galloping Gourmet program is really delightful to me, and I’m grateful for that. So I certainly don’t want to trash what we did – I think it was ‘en route’ to where God was taking us.— Graham Kerr
Then overnight his and Treena's lives were changed. They were involved in a near-fatal auto accident (rear-ended by, of all things, a vegetable truck). Graham made a full recovery but his beloved Treena was never completely the same again. For years she battled pain pill addiction, then a heart attack and ultimately a debilitating stroke.
Shortly after the car accident, both of them became Christians. Graham made a culinary about-face. Full fat excess was abandoned for flavor-forward cooking which he dubbed “minimax”—minimum fat and cholesterol and maximum aroma, color, texture, and taste. Graham produced a new cooking show “The Graham Kerr Show” in Seattle, Washington. Along the way, he wrote 30 books.
He retired from television in 1995. Treena died just five days before their 60th wedding anniversary. Graham lives alone now. The home that he and Treena shared in the Skagit Valley was sold two years ago. He sold/garage-saled many of his belongings and relocated to a retirement community.
It’s so lovely here. I have my own small, private space, and it’s perfectly fine for me. I told the Lord that I really needed to be pruned. My tree is too big, and the fruit is too large and doesn’t taste as good as it should. So I told the Lord that if he could prune me and get some better fruit out of me, I would be very grateful.— Graham Kerr
He fills his days cooking for friends, gardening (a new passion), doing volunteer work for his church, and occasionally gives talks at local meetings. He is in the midst of authoring one more book, this one on what it is like to live alone.
I’m still cooking and gardening, but now I cook for one. I don’t have Treena to look after anymore, but the ripple has widened. I want to see how I can serve others, here in this community and elsewhere.— Graham Kerr
Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.
Here's a link to that Table of Contents.
I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.
Let's do this again next week. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address: email@example.com.
And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.
© 2019 Linda Lum