For a woman who specializes in canning and preserving, Pat Crocker is poetically named. Her tome, Preserving (now on sale) is the most complete—and beautiful—cookbook on canning, freezing and jarring you will ever need. Suitable for both novice and experiences canners, this cookbook not only helps you create your preserves, but then offers dozens of delicious recipes in which you can use your canned fruits and veggies! We invited Pat to answer a few questions about her food life and likes. Click over to this past blog post to get a feel for the book and see some of the beautiful color spreads, but in the meantime, get to know Pat!
Mission: Write with insight and experience, cook with playful abandon, eat with gusto.
Experience that changed your life: Moving to the country, planting an herb garden, buying a camera, birth of my daughter, it all happened at the same time and so fast, I could not separate or place one ahead of the other except to say that my daughter is an ongoing revelation of love and pure joy. And my herb garden and photography bring me the same pleasures in their own unique ways. These unrelated and yet life-altering events are the warp threads in the fabric of my life.
Mantra: Write, cook, eat, write: do it well.
Works: Writing, at the computer 10 to 12 hours a day, most weekends and holidays, except when in a garden or on the road.
Lives: for travel and gardens so that I can escape the chair in front of the computer.
Plays: in my herb garden and in the kitchen, my life’s work laboratories.
First taste memory: I developed an incredible attachment to sugar and for me, the quintessential Canadian sweet, other than pure maple sugar, is Nanaimo Bars–I made them every week quite possibly for years while growing up. In fact, growing up in the 1950s, with a last name like mine, it might be argued that my interest in food was pre-destined, but it was my insatiable sweet tooth that led me to the kitchen. At the age of eight, I realized that I could dramatically increase my intake of desserts if I made them myself.
Favorite food or meal? Thanksgiving, the one day devoted to food, family and friends and the perfect occasion for serving Nanaimo Bars.
Signature dish? Rosemary-stuffed Chevre Chicken
Cooking and food philosophy? I’m a lazy cook, so everything I do is simplified and easy.
Best culinary vacation you’ve ever taken? Istanbul, a fiftieth birthday celebration, cooking with a Turkish chef and six close friends. Heaven.
Salty, sweet, sour, or spicy? Sweet tooth aside, now my first choice would be salty. Coarse salt grains embedded in a butterscotch wafer put me over the edge.
What music, if any, do you listen to when you cook? Jazz–I actually have a ‘cooking’ playlist (from the 2500+ songs and classical music on my iPod), which is different from my ‘dinner’ playlist.
Favorite movie about eating or food? Babette’s Feast –it’s a gift of love in the highest form, a meal where the food wine transform an uncompromising group of dour puritanical and isolated villagers in nineteenth-century Denmark.
Culinary heroes? Oh, so many! I suppose close to home, I would say chef Michael Statlander: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/aprons-icons/2012/04/24/the-singhampton-project/
If you could have dinner with three people—living or dead, of course—who would they be? Alice Waters for the food, Virginia Woolf for the conversation, and Joni Mitchell for the music.
Something about yourself that would surprise people? I have a tattoo. My husband and I were both smitten with ink art while on vacation in Arizona. Mine is the Japanese symbol for water
Is there any one person (aside from yourself) you think of pleasing with your cooking? My husband is my taster, critic and food companion. His palate is developed to the point of absurdity, and it shows up most disastrously when we’re eating from restaurant plates.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would be a full-time gardener.
Is there a particular ingredient, herb, or spice that’s really inspiring you right now? I’m exploring the versatility of coriander right now. It’s the featured spice in many of my Moroccan spice blends, and I’m working with it in drink recipes. I’m also working with Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) because it will be Herb of the Year in 2013.
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