Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Food Changed Your Life?

I just finished reading my July 2011 issue of Sunset magazine. In the Q &A section, the above question, "What food changed your life?" was asked of 8 people who are, in one way or another, in the food industry. The one I found the most fascinating was the response of Joe Coulombe, the founder of Trader Joe's, the famous grocery store that he started in Pasadena, CA.
When Joe met his future wife, Alice in 1951, her father, Bill Steere, was a professor at Stanford on a professor's salary. It was Bill who introduced Joe to Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton, where you could get gallon jugs of Chardonnay for $1.00. Joe said he had always been a beer drinker, so drinking jug wine with his in-laws was a culinary awakening. At the same time, his mother-in-law introduced Joe to olive oil.That is how Joe began to learn about food and wine.
Just think what that awakening has done! We will  have 2 big new Trader Joe's here in Greater Kansas City within a month. They open on July 15th and I am so anxious to wander through the aisles. I've tried so many of Joe's  products in the past. I've been receiving Joe's newsletter for several years now and the anticipation of my first time shopping in a Trader Joe's is building. Am I disappointed that Kansas law forbids Joe to sell wine in the store on the Kansas side of the state line? Not really, I have my connections at a local winery!
Oh....back to the question...What Food Changed Your Life? Have you ever had one of those food moments? One bite and you know your life just changed? If so, I'd love to hear about it. If you look at the bottom of this posting, you will see the word comments. Click on it and a box for you to leave a comment in will pop up. Tell me about your culinary awakening....I look forward to reading each and every one of them!
As for my moment....I still think watching my dear sweet grandmother, Ann Robnett Johnston, making a cherry pie was my moment. I was 4 or 5 years old. Seeing how putting a few ingredients together can bring such pleasure to those lucky people that get to eat it, set my course through life. But what bite of food changed my life? It was most definitely my other grandmother's, Minnie Florence Ogg, homemade biscuits.
How could I be anything other than a chef? Both grandmother's taught me to love cooking! But you already know all of this.....they pop into my blog frequently.

So, Sunset was not the only magazine I read today. The July Bon Appetit also arrived in my mailbox. This recipe really caught my eye! Needless to say, I have not made it yet, but I will. Hope you check it out.

Grilled Lobster Paella
6 servings
Recipe and photograph by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
July 2011
•1/2 cup olive oil
•3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/2"-thick rounds
•6 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 finely chopped leeks, white and light-green parts only
•1 tablespoon smoked paprika
•2 1/2 cups short-grain rice
•1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
•7 cups hot seafood or chicken stock
•Kosher salt
•3 1-1 1/4-pound lobsters, halved lengthwise, claws cracked
•2 cups fresh shelled peas or frozen peas, thawed
•1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
•3 lemons, halved
16"-18" paella pan....worth the money if you love paella!


•Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Let burn down to red-hot coals; rake to edge of grill. (For backup, start a second round of coals in a charcoal chimney on pavement nearby.) Put paella pan on grill grate; heat olive oil. Add chorizo and green garlic or leeks; cook until golden, 3-4 minutes.

•Add smoked paprika and rice; cook, stirring often, until rice is coated, 2 minutes. Add saffron threads to hot stock. Add stock to pan and season to taste with kosher salt; stir to distribute ingredients. Let cook, undisturbed, until stock simmers and rice begins to absorb liquid, about 10 minutes. Rotate pan every 2-3 minutes to cook evenly.

•Arrange lobster halves over the rice. Continue cooking, rotating the pan often, as the rice swells and absorbs the stock. Add more coals from charcoal chimney to maintain even heat under the pan. Cook until the rice is almost tender and the lobster is cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

•Scatter peas on top. (If the liquid evaporates before the rice is tender, add more hot stock.) Cook without stirring, allowing rice to absorb all of the liquid, so that a crust (the socarrat) develops on the bottom and the edges begin to dry out and get crusty, 5-10 minutes, for a total cooking time of about 40 minutes.

•Remove pan from grill. Cover with large clean kitchen towels and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemons, making sure to scrape some of the socarrat from the bottom of the pan onto each plate.

Don't forget to leave me a comment on your culinary awakening!


Jan Kroboth said...

The moment that immediately comes to mind was when I was going to France with a group from Syracuse University to spend a semester. One of our professors invited the whole group (13 of us) to his house for a dinner party. As a small town New England girl, even the idea of a dinner party was foreign to me. It wasn't a potluck and it wasn't with family. When I daringly sampled my first escargot, a whole new world opened to me. I've loved French cooking and many things French since then. Oh, yes, and then there was the wine!

Kay Johnston Tucker said...

This comment came to my regular email....Google gave her some trouble.
Well, I tried to comment on your blog but it wouldn't accept my Google password. Anyway, my comment on the most memorable food I've ever eaten was when I traveled to the Seattle World's Fair to meet Tony, my future husband at the time. We drove down from Seattle to LA going through No. Calif. of course. We stopped at a friend's home in Sacramento and she didn't have anything for lunch for us, so she made cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese. I had never heard of such a thing but they were the most refreshing, delicious thing I had ever eaten. Also tasted avocado, which I had never even heard of at that time. You had great memories of food in Kansas but I sure didn't. My mom and for that matter my extended family was a meat and potatoes kind of family. I did not have all the interesting culinary treats that you grew up with. California and fresh fruit off the tree opened my eyes wide open. I had never even had Mexican food until I moved to Ca.
My memories of my childhood and especially Wyandotte are pretty much obliterated. I think it just must not have been a very happy time for me.
I made your father's meat loaf yesterday for Father's Day and Tony loved it. He was in the hospital all last week with diverticulosis, so on a soft diet. I decided meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas and chocolate cake would fit right in, and besides one of his favorite meals (except the peas!). Really fit the bill for this Father's Day. Thanks.
Carolyn Westbrook Hewitt

Rhoda J Powers said...

Kay, my food moment was simple and life changing. I had the opportunity to eat "real" mashed potatoes and homemade cinnamon rolls. I had been raised on food from boxes and cans and what an awakening it was. The taste of real mashed potatoes instead of instant. At that point forward I made every effort to make as much of the food that I consumed and that I prepared for others would be a whole & natural and homemade as possible.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker