We all eat, and many of us have friends and family members with whom the relationship revolves almost solely around food.
In my life, cooking, dining and talking are my reasons to wake up early and go to bed late or spend too much money. My idea of a good telephone chat with my mom in Denver is obtaining a recipe for a disgustingly rich cake made with cream cheese and coconut.
Food was so present in my childhood that my Jewish grandmothers never wasted an opportunity to bribe my siblings and me with a nosh in an effort to slow us down and get us to talk.
Some days it was a homemade German chocolate Bundt cake laden with chocolate chips, or something as simple as those store-bought wafer cookies that came in pink and yellow pastel colors.
“You are withering away – I’ll make you something to eat,” something Grandma Shirley would worry aloud while guilting me about being too skinny or not having a husband picked out by age 7.
Grandma Shirley has since passed, but her spirit is omnipresent in how I talk, cook and live. When I lack inspiration, I turn on the Food Network and reflect on my childhood memories and my faith.
The tradition of cooking for others and with others is something I now do every Wednesday night. Three of my friends and I get together, cook dinner, make a dessert, mix a cocktail and watch “Sex and the City.” Dubbed “Sex and the City Night” almost a year ago, we have fed each other weekly ever since. Taking turns keeps variety in our meals and the cost even.
The purpose of this regular Thursday Verve column, “Cookin’ with No Dough,” is to answer the age-old question “What’s for dinner?” Some of the recipes will be for large groups, so invite your friends and neighbors. Other menus will be perfect for smaller groups, say three or four people.
I will always provide directions, estimated costs and other tidbits about ingredients. These dishes will not only taste great hot off the stove but also delicious the next day or later in the week.
I’m not a journalist but instead an art major a little obsessed with food and who wants to try something new. My hope is that you will do the same and join me on this fun journey. You can do it. I know you can, and so does your mother.
L’chaim and B’tay Avon! (To Life and Eat Well)
1 shot vodka
2 shots cranberry juice
1/2 shot lime juice
1/2 shot triple sec
Mix all ingredients together in glass with ice. Strain into martini glass and enjoy!
Adapted from Rachel Ray of the Food Network:
Feta-stuffed turkey burgers
1 lb ground turkey
4 oz crumbled feta
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Oil to cover bottom of pan
Combine turkey, feta, garlic, egg and mustard in a bowl. Form into four patties and place in non-stick pan covered in oil.
Cook five minutes each side over medium heat. Top with your favorite ingredients such as avocado, spinach, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Sides such as corn on the cob or French fries complete the meal.
All ingredients combined cost less than $20 for four people.
Information taken from Barron’s “Food Lover’s Companion, Third Edition,” Sharon Tyler Herbst.
Avocado- Known for its buttery texture and slightly nutty taste the fruit’s name comes from “ahuacatl”, the Nahuatl word for “testicle.” Almost 80 percent of today’s crops come from California.
Dijon mustard- Getting its name from the Dijon region of France, this mustard has a strong, generally spicy taste. The most famous Dijon mustard in the United States is Grey Poupon.
Garlic- Long credited with prolonging physical strength, garlic used to be fed to Egyptian slaves while building the giant pyramids. By cooking it in different fashions, different tastes result. For example, roasting creates a sweet taste and saut/ing will result in a spicier taste.