Q&A with Vegetarian Main Contest Winner

January 3, 2012

Congratulations to newestobsession, whose Spanish Quinoa won the Best Vegetarian Main contest, earning her a $75 Whole Foods Market gift card!

Spanish Quinoa  newestobsession
A wholesome bowl of Spanish Quinoa
newestobsession can't help but smile in the kitchen

Q&A with newestobsession

It’s midnight and you’re hungry. Do you reach for something savory or sweet?
Definitely something sweet. Historically, I have been known to go for a small bowl of cereal or granola with milk, or a Fig Newman with a little bit of Justin's Maple Almond Butter

An ideal dinner party includes a) 2 people, b) 4 – 6 people, or c) 8 or more.

4-6 people is perfect. Not only because my kitchen/dining area is small, but last time we served 8 or more, we were scraping up trampled pizza toppings from the dining room floor the next day.

How did you first become interested in cooking?

Good question. As a kid, I turned my nose up to food left and right, unless it was one color: white. Suddenly, along my path through college, I had the desire to learn how to cook and eat healthy meals. When I started cooking, I absolutely could not diverge from a recipe or improvise, because I am very analytical and I was convinced it wasn't going to turn out right. As I began to query my mom and others on how they learned to cook, I learned that it is okay to change something here or substitute something there, and I began experimenting myself. I bought cookbooks, searched for recipes online, and watched others cook. Slowly but surely, I began feeling comfortable modifying, substituting, and combining recipes to make them my own. And to my surprise, they turned out great! Well, some of them did...

If you were reincarnated as a single dish, what would you be?

Chicken enchiladas. My all-time favorite meal, thanks to the Rio Grande in Boulder. While I love eating them out, I have had a fun time making them at home and experimenting with different add-ins. My favorite variation right now is chicken, black bean, and sweet potato enchiladas.

Describe your weekend cooking style.

I usually try a new recipe for breakfast, scramble leftovers in eggs for lunch, and spend entire Sunday afternoons in the kitchen prepping workweek lunches (hummus, granola, nut butter, dried beans). Dinners are either simple to support long days on the ski slopes or out on my bicycle, or complex to require me to spend a few hours in the kitchen -- which I love.

Is there one ingredient you can’t live without?
This is a toss up between salt and garlic. Since salt seems like a "free" ingredient, I'm going to have to go with garlic. I recently did an elimination diet where I went over a week without garlic and I missed it! It adds a subtle sweetness and flavor to almost any dish. I really love adding it to egg scrambles.

chicken enchiladas
Newestobsession's all-time favorite meal, chicken enchiladas

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I once made a chickpea and carrot ginger soup that called for six tablespoons of minced ginger! Instead of mincing the ginger, I grated it, but had to stop at four tablespoons because I ran out. Either way, I didn't think twice about the overall quantity and/or the difference between grating and mincing. The soup turned out so spicy from the ginger my fiancé could hardly eat it. It is the only thing I have ever made that he couldn't eat. This experience definitely taught me to second guess quantities of ingredients if they don't seem reasonable, and to modify them for my own tastes.

What music (if any) do you listen to in the kitchen?
Listening to music while chopping vegetables and sipping on a nice glass of red wine is the ultimate stress reliever for me. I have a "contemporary folk" playlist I like to listen to that features artists such as Ray LaMontagne, Bon Iver, Alexi Murdoch, Mumford & Sons, Peter Bradley Adams, Pete Yorn, Andrew Bird, Greg Laswell, Jose Gonzalez, and The National...just to name a few.
Which cookbook(s) do you reach for most often?
I love Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, because it literally has EVERYTHING in it. Whenever I have an ingredient I need to use or a craving for something I am dying to make, I look it up in the index of his book. Another few of my favorites are Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton, Clean Eating Magazine, and more recently, The Feed Zone Cookbook by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. Otherwise, I find most of my recipes on the Internet, because it is literally endless.

What is your most cherished food tradition?
Making Swedish pancakes with my family on Christmas morning. The recipe has been passed down through generations of the Swedish side of my family and is unlike any other pancake recipe I have tried, anywhere. They are especially good when my dad makes them.

To learn more about newestobsession, check out her profile.

Want a shot at the spotlight (and a killer prize)? Enter our Best Winter Pie (Sweet or Savory) contest by January 15!

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