Saturday, June 6, 2009

I don't know how she does it

Yesterday I posted about Alma Schneider, the social worker who started Take Back the Kitchen to help people gain the confidence and knowledge to cook healthfully for themselves.

I forgot to mention that in addition to Take Back the Kitchen, Alma is also the mother of four children!

She also does about a zillion other interesting things. She is a featured Kitchen Coach Expert on Real Savvy Moms and a healthy food sponsor for Baby Loves Disco. And she is a frequent recipe contributor to Impressed yet?

And as if that isn't enough, Alma manages to find the time and energy to serve as the President of Parents Who Rock, a non-profit organization she founded which raises money for charity through concerts performed by parents seeking to reconnect with their musical pasts. Alma rocks!

Since she's such a pro in the kitchen, I thought Alma would be the ideal candidate for the very first of what I hope will become a regular series of Q&As here at Undomesticated Me.

Undomesticated Me: What are the most common and unique obstacles to cooking?

Alma Schneider: Many of my clients grew up on convenience or fast food with mothers who barely cooked--they had little or no cooking role models.

Typically they struggle with shopping, storing, prepping and preparing food to cook healthy meals on a consistent basis. Add to that picky kids who don't appreciate the fruits of their labors and you have a very unmotivated cooking mom who is conflicted because she wants to keep her kids healthy, save money and not be wasteful.

Then there are competitive, criticizing mother-in-laws, gourmet chef partners who only cook on the weekends making the cook wannabee feel inept, kids who melt down at the dinner table and MANY more obstacles.

UM: What is the most basic piece of advice you could give to someone like me with an irrational fear of cooking?

AS: Learning to cook is like learning ANY other skill in life. Start with small, manageable tasks and goals and make sure you have the support you need to accomplish them.

UM: What is one of the easiest, most basic recipe you would recommend to a real beginning cook?

AS: My "famous" maple soy dressing/marinade/ glaze. It is incredibly versatile, delicious, and all it requires is measuring and pouring.

Maple Soy dressing/marinade/glaze:

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS soy sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together until fully combined and refrigerate. That's it!

UM: Why do you think so many women have hang-ups about being in the kitchen?

AS: Where do I begin?! Being a woman is so tied up with being a nurturer and a provider. Knowing how to cook has, throughout the ages, been a part of that nurturing and providing role.

This is one of the first generations where there has been literally zero need to learn how to cook, with little or no focus on teaching cooking.

If you have perfectionist tendencies or have difficulty multitasking, it can be very stressful not to be able to make a simple meal every day for our families -- especially when we see our friends doing it and even enjoying it!

UM: How do you manage to take care of your family, run your business, and cook delicious, healthy meals every day?

AS: It's all about the prep. I take a small amount of time (in the beginning it took longer, I admit) to think about what I was going to make. I shop and prep in advance. Creating a Menu is a life-saver and that is the key to cooking success.

UM: Thanks a lot, Alma. You are an inspiration!


Alma said...

Wow, you're fast at blogging-I'm sure you could be speedy in the kitchen with a little practice. Thanks for the Q and A and feel free to email or call me if you have any questions! Good luck everyone!

Bernie Bernstein said...

IMM (It's Me Mom - next time I will only post as IMM). I'm certainly going to try Alma's Maple SoyDressing/Marinade/Glaze. It sounds easy and wonderful. Paula, you should try it also. It would be great on pork, turkey or even fish. Don't give the recipe to Avo as he's sure to try it first and you won't get the credit. I think even your picky kid would enjoy it. I'm glad it only has 1/4 cup maple syrup as the cost for pure maple syrup is sky high these days.

Today I made an old favorite that you might remember. It's called, Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll and the recipe is on the box of Famous Chocolate Wafers. It tastes like Victory Layer Cake. I think I'll make it with the girls when you visit. I can also teach Jesse how to make grilled cheese my way and baked french toast. Yum, I can't wait.

Undomesticated Me said...

Of course, I remember Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll! I'm sure the kids will love it as much as I do.