I grew up in Lithuanian kitchens – both my Mother’s and my Grandmother’s. I enjoyed both of their cooking very much, and I have particularly fond memories of fresh kielbasa and amazing roasts, always served along with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, as well as a vegetable. In fact, that was the formula of the era – there seemed to be an unwritten rule that each dinner had to consist of three distinct parts: (1) the meat, (2) the starch and (3) the vegetable.
As I grew older, I continued to enjoy our dinners, which were hearty and delicious, but I started noticing that the word “spice” pretty much meant only two things: salt and pepper. As my beloved grandfather got older and started having heart problems, salt was basically eliminated as well. At that point, when I was about 14 years old, my Mother went back to work, and I started assuming more of the cooking responsibilities in the household. I began experimenting with other spices, beginning tamely at first with garlic powder, basil, oregano, and the like. My burgeoning chef creations of my early teen years were modest yet ambitious, including such titles as “Light & Saucy Pizza Chicken.”
Then, I had the opportunity to travel to Seville, Spain to study for my Junior year abroad while at Georgetown University. A new world of cuisine opened up for me. Saffron, fresh garlic, lentils – unique and savory elements all combined and entered my world like never before. I enjoyed helping my Spanish house-mother cook and recorded all of her recipes in my journal so that I could continue making those wonderful creations back in the States. From there my passion for cooking ignited. I started experimenting with all sorts of cultural cooking – from Indian to Mexican, Thai to French, I couldn’t get enough of the incredible flavor that comes from the rich diversity of ethnic cuisine that exists in our world.
I moved to Manhattan in the Fall of 1998 to begin my legal career and enjoyed dining at some of the most amazing restaurants in the world, but I was always concerned about the amount of fat that was hiding in those delicious meals. It was also incredibly expensive to frequent on a regular basis places such as Jean-Georges, Lutèce, Lespinasse, Le Bernardin, Il Mulino, and so on. So, I began trying to reinvent the incredible taste of the world’s best restaurants in a healthy, more economical manner. I will always remember one evening when my boyfriend at the time, my husband now, looked at me in a strange way across my dinner table. I asked him what was the matter, and he responded, “It’s just that this is so incredibly good!” We were engaged a couple of months later, and I am certain that my cooking had a great deal to do with his expedited proposal!
We now find ourselves in Park City, Utah, by way of Washington, D.C., transplants who came to this area in search of a better quality of life - like so many of our fellow Parkites. We are very much enjoying life out here in such a beautiful and healthy environment in which to raise our two young boys. We also love great food, but we also believe that it should be healthful (other than the occasional splurges, of course!) We believe that economical is important, too. Thus, Reinventing Dinner is born. Through this Cookbook, I am trading out the majority of fat in recipes in favor of incredible flavor. I believe that variety is truly the spice of life, and, to that end, I have incorporated the best culinary aspects of many different cultures that have formed the American experience, while tailoring the recipes to the American palate. In essence, I have improved upon the tradition of American comfort food, by creating cuisine that gives comfort to the mind, body AND wallet, while, of course, delighting the taste buds.
I hope you will join me on my Mission - and that you and your family truly enjoy these recipes. I invite you to share your experiences, thoughts and comments about Reinventing Dinner through the Contact Us page or the Reinventing Dinner Healthy Eating Blog on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you! And remember, ENJOY LIFE - EAT WELL!