So reads one of the 13 chapters- and morsels- of kitchen wisdom in Alana Chernila‘s new cookbook, “The Homemade Kitchen.” This is a book whose message is as much about how to approach life at a slow, measured and pleasurable pace as it is about about cooking with the same intentions.
“Start Where You Are.” “Feed Yourself.” “Put Your Hands in the Earth.” “Do the Work.” “Slow Down.” Alana has these phrases and others taped to her refrigerator. I do the same thing on mine with inspirational quotations such as: “Just as the Caterpillar thought the world was coming to an end, she became a butterfly.” “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” This latter quote is the lead in my second book, “Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms.”
Feeding your body also nourishes your soul. The kitchen is both heart and hearth for many home cooks, including Alana. She says, “The process of cooking at home is my window into what I want to create in life as a whole.”
If the kitchen is the heart of her home, her gardens are the arteries. Alana looks to nature for inspiration in the kitchen and shares practical insights to working with and not against it, from honoring the ingredients to utilizing bits and pieces and not being wasteful.
I’m a fan of the section of “The Homemade Kitchen” that address waste and re-purposing different foods, something I am just learning to do in an effort to be more respectful of the fact than we live in a nation of abundance where too many still go hungry.
In 2006-2007 David and I spent a blissful pre-wedding-New Years-Birthday-“Bucket List” trip traveling through Botswana and South Africa. It was my first time visiting the African continent, but not the last. In 2012 we went to Morocco to cross “dancing under the stars in the Sahara Desert” off my bucket list.
Our travel bucket list is continually being rearranged and we’re forever dreaming of trips to destinations where the culture, the language, the food and the people are uniquely different and special. One of the places we dream of visiting in Africa is Senegal. Situated on the western coast of Africa, Senegal is a multicultural country with culinary influences from all over the world. When David and I flew to Johannesburg we made a 4 hour pit stop at the airport in Dakar to fix a hydraulic flap control on the plane. Sadly we couldn’t leave the plane, though they did open the doors so we could stand in the doorway and breathe in the rich West African air.
Senegal, and most of West Africa fascinates me. Much of the United States is tied to that part of Africa for both savory and unsavory reasons. The unsavory was the slave trade when families were uprooted and lives were stolen and human beings sold. The savory are the rich cultural and culinary traditions that the people from Africa brought with them that are embedded in many of the dishes we eat today.
During this particularly harsh winter one dish has sustained us….soup. We’ve raided our larder and pantry to create different soups when we can’t leave our icy driveway. Our go-to book has been Joanna Pruess‘ recently published Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two, or a Few. The recipes are easy enough for Melanie with plenty of vegetarian options and substantial enough for David. Somehow we’ve managed to stretch several of Joanna’s “soup for two” recipes into “soup for two days” by adding more ingredients to a base recipe.
JoannaPruess is an award-winning food and travel writer who has written extensively for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Saveur, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, PBS’ online magazine: NextAvenue.org, and the Associated Press. She is a regular contributor to Specialty Foods Magazine where she develops recipes for gourmet retailers and fine markets across the country, and writes a column about discovering a country’s culture through its cuisine. She also develops recipes for the some of the nation’s top gourmet product manufacturers.
She’s written and published 14 cookbooks. In addition to the aforementioned Soup for Two, some of Joanna’s other books include; Dos Caminos’ Tacos (with Ivy Stark); The Tea Cookbook; The Cast-Iron Cookbook; and Seduced by Bacon: Recipes and Lore about America’s Favorite Indulgence. And then there’s Seduced by Bacon which has captured David’s fancy.
She created and was the first director of the Cookingstudio, a cooking school within Kings Super Market, in New Jersey, where she had more than 15,000 students in five years. Among her classes were special programs for the visually and hearing-impaired, the learning disabled, as well as historical dinners.
Joanna has also lectured about food and cultural anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., onboard the Crystal Cruises, throughout the U.S., and in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey. When we were planning our “bucket list” trip to Morocco in 2012, Joanna invited us over to her NYC apartment and shared all her culinary side trips and must-visits from her own excursion.
The other liquids that have helped us maintain both our senses and our sense of humor this winter are hot cups of coffee or espresso and plenty of good wine. Any color or varietal will do depending on the meal we cook, but we are especially partial to a nice Brunello di Montalcino.
Riccardo illy, Chairman of Gruppo illy S.p.A. will join us live from his home in Trieste to discuss his role at the helm of his family’s company as part of our Families in the Business series.
Ricardo’s grandfather, Francesco illy, founded the business in 1933 starting with coffee and chocolate. Back then illy had a farm in Istria near Trieste. After World War II this part of Italy became Yugoslavia. The real estate was nationalized, and the farm was lost. Francesco illy decided to focus on coffee.
Under Riccardo’s father, the late Ernesto illy, the company introduced illy tea. After 20 years, production of illy tea was discontinued, and the focus remained coffee. Today, illy coffee is enjoyed in 140 countries around the world in restaurants, at home and in more than 200 espressamente illy coffee bar locations.
The illy family remains deeply involved in company leadership. Riccardo joined the family firm in 1977 working his way through marketing, sales and upper management positions. He was named Managing Director in 1992, Vice President in 1995 and Chairman of Gruppo illy in 2004, a position he has held since.
Under Riccardo’s direction, illy has expanded back into food as well as wine through acquisitions that include chocolate (Domori) tea (Dammann Frères), fruit preserves and confections (Agrimontana) and wine (Mastrojanni). The latter is an acclaimed Brunello di Montalcino started by the Mastrojanni family in the late 1970s and acquired by the illy family in 2008.
In addition to working within his family business, Riccardo has been active in many other areas of business, community and politics in Italy, as well as serving as a journalist and writing books. He has received numerous honors for his community service.
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11 am PT on the Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple profiles the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality, Listen live at www.W4CY.com and on demand any time at iHeart.com (under Shows & Personalities). Have questions about our show or want to us to ask a question to one of our guests? Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also listen to Melanie Mondays, 9pm ET/6pm PT on Fearless Fabulous You!, her inspiring show for and about women, on W4CY’s sister station W4WN- the Women for Women Network, and on demand any time at iHeart.com