Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Kitchen Goddess

Oi yah. Well, I suppose she's a follower of Martha (the human female incarnation of Mothra from those really bad 1960's Japanese Godzilla movies)... Visit With the ‘Kitchen Goddess’ Submitted by Editor on Fri, 11/02/2007 - 11:07am. LOU ANN GOOD Food and FamilyFeatures Editor LANGHORNE, Pa. — Her friends and family call her the “Kitchen Goddess” in reverence to her heavenly ability to prepare culinary feasts. Readers of Lancaster Farming might recognize her as the contributor who sends in many recipes with French and Italian origins and answers requests for such delights as Tres Leches Strawberry Cake. Marilyn Robinson is the antithesis of most of this newspaper’s rural readership. She lives in an upscale Philadelphia suburb with her husband Stephen Robinson, their two sons and two pampered dogs. But she does lay claim to growing up on a farm, where she learned to cook when her mother gave her an EZ Bake oven and the reins to experiment. Her mother is deceased, but her dad continues to farm 115 acres in Hummelstown. “On my 50th birthday, my dad gave me a subscription to Lancaster Farming,” she said. “He thought I’d enjoy reading about the auctions. I do. But I discovered the recipes and just love it,” she said. She’s been an avid reader and contributor ever since. From those little notes she inserts with the recipes and from sharing her cookbook, “Art of the Domestic Feast,” which she compiled for Christmas gifts for friends, her enthusiasm for all things pertaining to culinary experimentation is evident. She prepares meals like an artist paints on a canvas. Color and texture are as important as taste. “See this color combo,” she often demands of her family before they are allowed to taste the food artfully arranged on their plates. She likes to add simple touches to enhance the food presentation such as a smattering of fall leaves scattered among the serving dishes or a leaf topped on a pumpkin fudge cake. Bite-sized cookies surrounded a miniature bundt pumpkin cakes and muffins. Greek spinach Salad severed in a wooden bowl and fresh fruit served in a glass dish to showcase their brilliant hues add to a bouquet of deep red mums inserted in a wine box container. She and her neighbors take turns hosting monthly theme parties. One of those Marilyn hosted was a movie night featuring Clueless. Food included an array of hors d’oeuvres named after characters and slang phrases in the movie, “Clueless,” such as Cher pizzettes, Baldwin turnovers, and Clueless Camembert accompanied by suitably “popular” veggies zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes marinated in olive oil and herbs and baked on skewers. Bite-sized strawberry tarts and Beverly Hill High nuts dipped in chocolate. If that menu sounds daunting, Marilyn points out, “One frantic burst of activity, and then it’s someone else’s turn.” Periodically she prepares a feast for her dad, and he reciprocates by making homemade sauerkraut. Although she has assisted him in preserving sauerkraut she hasn’t had success with it on her own. Recently she dumped crockfuls of spoiled kraut down her garbage disposal, which clogged and resulted in a repair bill that cost far more than the value of the expected sauerkraut. Generally, she has more success than failure in the kitchen and cheerfully credits a glass of wine for making everything taste better. Her creativity is not limited to the kitchen. On the day of the interview, Marilyn wore a shimmering, swinging vest that she sewed. Her home abounds with skills from her hand. Faux, stencil and paint techniques intertwine for unique one-of-a-kind wall finishes. She decorates her home with auction finds. “I just love the thrill of the auction. It’s sort of like going to Wal-Mart: you never know what it was you wanted or needed until you go up and down all the aisles,” she said. “I’ve gotten boxes of cookbooks, videos, cast iron skillets, an antique cherry pitter, super big bowls . . .” and she has a wonderful cupboard with no assigned style ever determined. She taught herself to knit, crochet and even quilt by following instructions she found on the Internet. Recently she crocheted a rather large rug for her laundry room. “I established myself,” she said of developing creativity while growing up with two “brothers with brains.” “I love to dabble in lots of things,” she said. As with any creative venture, things don’t always go as expected, and if it doesn’t work out — she improvises. The family travels extensively, where Marilyn has discovered that real lasagna in Italy is quite different from that served in the U.S., and the glory of French sauces. ******************************************************************************* Three of the Kitchen Goddess' recipes followed in the article, but I did not include them. Here's one of my own instead, darlings! I made it tonight, delish! Really Easy Beef Burgundy 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into one inch pieces 1 can golden mushroom soup (don't use cream of mushroom, yechy) 1 package dried onion soup mix 1 soup can full of cheap red wine - I use anything that has 'Bordeaux' anywhere on the bottle 8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, cut into thirds Mix all ingredients in oven-proof casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 2-1/2 hours at 325 degrees F.

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