Daily Unadventures in Cooking, an Interview with Katerina
Tell us more about yourself and why you decided to start your blog, Daily Unadventures in Cooking. What inspired you to choose the name of your blog?
I actually started the blog just for myself to document the process of learning how to cook. When something worked out I wanted a place to save the recipes and take notes on what worked and didn’t, as a very digital and computer-oriented person a website made sense to me. This is probably why I didn’t put that much thought into the blog name! In fact I didn’t even tell my husband for 3 months or so because at the time “blog” was a bit of a dirty word. The name stems from my sarcastic personality, I really didn’t think there would be daily adventures – hence daily “unadventures”. If I could go back and change it I would, I have thought about that quite a few times over the years. Amazingly people started reading, and my cooking skills, photos and recipes have drastically improved. I have even done a full culinary program since I started the blog now. I love creating new recipes and it motivates me that people are reading it and looking forward to new ideas.
Your site has a great variety of recipe sections including: appetizers, meat, seafood, dessert, soups and stews, vegetables, grill, and even more. What are your favorite types of food to cook?
My favorite thing to cook is any form of comfort food. I am sure this explains why so many of my recipes are risottos, soups, pastas and braised meats! I love pasta and risotto because of my Italian heritage, but also because the combinations are endless which is why soups and stews are great too! Despite there being a good amount of meat in the recipes I do try and create interesting vegetable recipes as well, I was vegetarian for a decade and I love vegetables.
What recipes are you the most proud of? Which are your favorites to make and taste the best?
I am most proud of my most original recipes. Really, nothing is 100% new these days, and I tend to create most of my recipes from classic flavor combinations rather than existing recipes (i.e. bacon and cabbage, chicken and tarragon, pork and apples etc). One of my favorite recipes is for healthy oatmeal, coconut and peanut butter cookies. I make them all the time and they have been featured all over the web.
What do you think are the best food brands that moms should buy?
I am not sure the brands are critical, and being in Canada our brands vary a bit. Personally, I think what is most important is reading your labels, watching sodium content and looking for more “real” ingredients rather than less.
What are a few food items that are always in your refrigerator?
Plain Greek yogurt is a must, it doubles for a healthy sour cream, and can be used in lots of baked goods or for healthy snacks. Dijon mustard is another thing. I have never been a fan of store bought dressings, so I always make super quick salad dressing with Dijon, olive oil, salt and pepper and either lemon juice or a wine vinegar. If I have time I add shallots and lemon zest. I also love stirring Dijon into the end of sauces to give it a bit of kick. I also always try and always have on hand eggs and cheddar cheese; for the really rushed breakfasts or dinners.
What are your top 10 tips that moms should remember while cooking in the kitchen?
I am not sure I have a full 10 tips, but I have a few overall principles that will help make you more successful in the kitchen.
First – Organize! This means everything from planning your meals and grocery shopping ahead of time, to clearly labeling the date and contents of every freezer package, and keeping a running tally of the pantry items that you are out of. As for the actual cooking, being organized means reading a recipe all the way through before starting it and having as much prepped as possible so you aren’t rushing about and of course cleaning as you go! I also tend to prep stuff for the following night while cooking the current evenings meal as it saves me time in the long run.
Secondly – Sharpen your Knives! Dull knives can mean more injuries but also will prevent you from getting nice cuts and take more time. I used to take my knives to be sharpened twice a year, but I have since learned to sharpen my own knives with a whetstone. Don’t forget to use your steel before you use your knife it will help maintain that edge and keep the perception of sharpness longer.
Thirdly – Waste Not Want Not! Not everyone has the time of course, but it is almost always cheaper to buy a larger, less processed cut of meat and butcher it yourself. For example, 1 chicken can be butchered into 2 breasts, 2 legs, two wings and a carcass. The legs and the wings can easily be used as the basis of a soup, along with the carcass and the breasts can even stretch to four people if you cut them in half and pound them thin. Using the carcass to make a chicken stock gives you one more product from the same bird. One of the things people don’t realize about professional kitchens is how much effort goes into cost efficiency, including making the most of any product. I think home cooks can really learn from this.
Which summer foods do you think that all moms should make for their families?
Well, that is hard! As I don’t have any kids nor a picky husband, I must say that I tend to eat lots of fresh vegetables and salad, but I know that may not be an option for everyone. That being said, when there are different kinds of fruits and vegetables available, I suggest people take advantage of these treats to introduce variety in their families diet. Try grilling summer fruits like peaches or pineapple, they can be dessert or part of a salad. Asparagus is a favorite of mine, but if you have picky eaters try it in small pieces as part of a pasta with ham or bacon and some cream.
I think one thing that people always forget about in the summer is the slow cooker. In fact, the crockpot or slow cooker is a great tool in the summer since it is usually low effort and does not heat up the house.
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