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Entries in cooking (7)


In the Nourish Kitchen: Warm Egg Salad with Herbs & Olive Oil

Sixteen years of feeding children has taught me a lot. Some of the lessons fall under the heading of common sense, such as don’t leave the green bean baby food unattended on the high chair tray. And if you do, don’t forget to clean the ceiling. Some lessons are exasperating: Kids don’t really care how long it took to prepare a well-rounded meal. Other are factual: No matter what, they won’t starve. But by far the most fruitful lesson of my experiences is getting dinner on the table before collapsing. Believe it or not, it doesn’t need to consist of pre-formed nuggets, either.

Photo courtesy of "In the Yellow House."I am proud to join the ranks of talented moms regularly writing for GWYM. It is fitting this contribution should arrive in March, a month of celebrations, birth, new beginnings, and eggs. The ladies of my Yellow Hen House begin again to lay their delicious eggs in shades of brown and blue. As spring sports kick into high gear and longer days equate to later nights of play, these gifts are a sure way to a delicious dinner.

Two years ago this month, as my husband and I lay waiting for sleep to come, I asked, “Would you be mad if I came home with chickens tomorrow?” The response, as I am sure you have predicted, was an incredulous and emphatic “Yes!” Long story short, when Doug arrived home from work the next evening, a cardboard box held five little chicks in a fluffy pile … on the wine cabinet …in the living room. Perhaps I took a slightly misguided leap, but my intentions were good. 

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Mom to Mom: How Freezer Cooking Changed My Life

Two years ago, when I became the mother of two adorable twin girls, I had this vision (delusion) of how things would play out in my new role as a stay-at-home mom.

The author says 'freezer cooking' has changed her family's life. Photo by iStockphoto.My mornings would start bright and early, feeding my adorable bundles of joy. I would shower and get dressed. I would have fresh coffee made for my hubby before he left for work, kissing him every morning as he left. I would keep the house clean and have a hot, made from scratch, dinner waiting for him when he returned home from a hard day’s work. Yes, in my vision (delusion), life would be perfect!!

But reality set in almost instantly. Feeding, burping, rocking and diapering two babies at once are tasks NO ONE prepared me for. At two months, the colic (times two) set in and the music to my ears was not cooing, but instead, blood-curdling screams. My energy was drained, I slept every minute I could, which, might I add, was NOT much, and I served frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese for dinner. This was NOT the fairytale I had envisioned.

And by the time my girls got over the colic, they got mobile. They were, literally, climbing the bookshelves and the TV stand. I could not turn my back on them for one second. During that time, dinner became whatever I could beg my husband to pick up on his way home from work.

I knew something had to change. My girls were being introduced to table food, and processed, unhealthy food, was NOT the food I wanted them to be eating. A friend suggested a website she had come across and encouraged me to check it out. The site, www.onceamonthmom.com, was the answer to all my prayers.

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A Go West Mom You Should Know: Renee Ferguson

Renee Ferguson is a wonderful example of a woman who decided to "seize the day.” 

For 14 years, she worked part-time an an expert on the Butterball Turkey-Talk Line, helping people get through their “turkey traumas” as she put it. But she also had a career in marketing, putting together a series of freelance jobs that allowed her to spend time with her three growing children. 

Renee Ferguson of Geneva is the author of "Talk Turkey to Me."When one of her jobs suddenly disappeared, and with no other prospects on the near horizon, Ferguson finally sat down and started putting together the cookbook her friends and relatives had urged her to write for years. The result is “Talk Turkey to Me: A Good Time in the Kitchen Talking Turkey and All the Trimmings," which was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. She has appeared on the Food Network's “Takedown With Bobby Flay” and has been quoted in a variety of national publications.

Ferguson, 58, and her husband Johann raised their children in Glen Ellyn but moved to Geneva five years ago. She says two of their three children - Erin, 27; Dallas, 25; and Kyle, 23 - are fabulous cooks and jokes the other will never starve.

Ferguson and her husband got married within six months of meeting each other, and they’ve now been married 36 years. “I don’t know how I ever made such a good decision at such a young age. He’s the love of my life,” she says. 

Read on to find out more about Ferguson and why we think she’s a Go West Mom You Should Know.

Q. How did you become part of the Butterball Turkey-Talk Line?

A I have a home economics degree, and part of the requirement for being on the Butterball talk line was to be a home economist. So when the job opportunity came up, I interviewed and was selected. 

I worked there for 14 years, handling people’s turkey traumas. People would call in with lots of very good questions. Everyone has a question and everyone seems to have a story about a Thanksgiving trauma of their own - whether it’s that they forgot the bag of giblets inside or they didn’t know how long to thaw the turkey or that they’ve never cooked a turkey before and their in-laws are coming over and they want to cook the perfect bird. 

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My First Visit to an Aldi Grocery Store

Yesterday I told you how I got to visit the Aldi Test Kitchen in Batavia, and how impressed I was with the quality of the food I tasted there.

So of course I next needed to shop at an actual Aldi, something I’ve never done before.

An aisle in Aldi. Photo by Tara Burghart.I gotta admit: I was a bit nervous. I knew I would have to bag my own groceries, and pay a nominal fee for bags if I didn’t bring enough of my own. I knew Aldi doesn't accept credit cards, so I brought my debit card. I knew that the food wasn’t arranged on shelves like I’m used to, and that much of it would be coming from the packaging boxes. And I just knew I’d mess up the grocery cart situation somehow.

OK. Those “fears” all seem really silly when I type them out.

So on a Tuesday night, I headed to the Aldi on State Street on the east side of Geneva. I got there shortly after 7 p.m. and grabbed a few quarters from my car.

But when I tried to put the quarter in the box to retrieve a grocery cart, it wouldn’t fit. I tried several times. What on earth was I doing wrong?

I had heard at the Test Kitchen event how veteran Aldi shoppers liked to help out newbies with me on the unique aspects of the store. So I asked a man coming out of the store for help with the cart. He wasn’t unfriendly, but I can’t say he was jumping for joy, either – especially once he pointed out that I was trying to cram a Susan B. Anthony dollar in the cart box. Ha! That’s funny, right? He didn’t seem to think so.

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A Visit to the Aldi Test Kitchen in Batavia

Confession time: I have never shopped at an Aldi.

Strike that. I had never shopped at an Aldi until last month, when I got invited to visit the Aldi “Test Kitchen” at the company’s North American headquarters in Batavia.

One reason I had never shopped at an Aldi was likely family preference. We were never a family who shopped at Aldi.

But of course I’ve not lived in my parents' home for many, many years now. Growing up, we never shopped at Meijer, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Blue Goose or Dominick’s, and I somehow have found myself regularly in all those stores while avoiding the Aldi locations that have been multiplying in the western suburbs in recent years.

My major concern was one of quality. When I thought of Aldi, I pictured cheap food and buying food straight from pallets in the middle of a store. I also wondered if an Aldi store – being as small as they are – could really have all the grocery items I need on a weekly basis.

But I have a number of friends who I know shop at Aldi at least semi-regularly, and they put great, nutritious meals on the table.

So when I got the invite to visit the Aldi Test Kitchen on a Thursday afternoon in October, I thought “Why not?”

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