Meet new monthly cooking columnist
Martha Stewart didn’t do home cooks any favours cooking lavish dinner parties in spotless sweater sets. (As if!) Thanks to her we’re still in Martha Stewart recovery programs, shedding black pangs of failure and guilt and inadequacy in the kitchen. We’re learning that she wasn’t normal. That is, she had teams of production people doing the grunt work.
For a more realistic, less masochistic approach to cooking for the family or pulling together some great dishes for guests, The Vancouver Sun gives you Joanna Tymkiw. Today, she begins a monthly column, Cooking 101, with basic lessons for the average home cook with time pressures, moderate skill levels and juggling abilities.
“There’ll be a lot of love in the recipes but they won’t be pretentious. It’s approachable and do able,” says Tymkiw, a former Vancouverite now living in Toronto. “If I can do it, anyone can. There’s this notion that everything needs to be perfect. I want to break through that. I’m not talking about throwing wieners and beans in a pot. We can make fresh food that’s good. It doesn’t have to be impossible or take an entire day.”
Her first column comes just in time for cooks to conquer a fear of pastry and make a scratch pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Frankly, she went a little overboard to try and make it foolproof and easy for you, starting from scratch herself, testing about a dozen permutations, finding THE right combination of ingredients and then tweaking and tweaking from there.
“It took a good few weeks,” she says. “I lay on the floor crying so you (readers) don’t have to. That’s how I got to this recipe. I got the crust I like. It’s all butter, it’s not grandma’s recipe off the back of Crisco or made with lard. I love baked goods but didn’t know why pie crusts are hit or miss. I wanted it to be all butter because it’s more contemporary. If you follow the steps, if you do what’s highlighted, I promise you, it’ll work.”
Tymkiw has cooking chops (she apprenticed at Aurora Bistro, one of Vancouver’s great little restaurants that succumbed to the recession), has a masters in journalism, has attended culinary school and is constantly upgrading skills at cooking classes. At Aurora Bistro (under Jeff Van Geest, now the chef at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver), she learned through tough love. “But it was the best apprenticeship ever. I’d get a pig’s head and be asked what I was going to do with it. We made crack Cheap Wedding Dresses ers. Who makes crackers? We made everything from scratch. It was said the only thing they bought was the chocolate and cheese.”
Along the way, she worked as a culinary assistant for Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bags TV show and is currently a regular cooking guest on The Marilyn Denis Show in Toronto.
Working on the Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bags, she says, was ‘crazy’ in a good way. “I’d have to get everything ready for the cooking for that day. Every utensil had to be in place. If I’d missed a tart pan, let me tell you, I’d be running out finding a tart pan.”
In the show, the stars pushed things to the limit with complicated recipes. “I would be like, I don’t know how they’re going be able to do it.” Tymkiw remembers an episode where they made a wedding cake from scratch and had to deliver it to the wedding. “It was nail biting time. A lot of times, we didn’t know if we would make it. They were insane production hours mixed wi Cheap Wedding Dresses th setting them up to almost fail.” (The show had a bakery on back up in case the cake didn’t w Cheap Wedding Dresses ork out.)
Tymkiw notes the disconnect between the farm to table trend. “People get it but don’t do it at home. They go out to dinner. But I think a general feeling has been building for a long time for whole foods, organic, and using what’s natural. Cooking at home is gaining momentum. It’s a creative outlet for people.”
Her recipes and tips, she says, will be for the ‘white collar cook’. “I was walking around my block the other night and no one was home for dinner. People should have been at home but no one was. What I do is try to make recipes accessible and do able,” she says. “I’ll focus on recipes people want to know how to do or think they know how to do. They’ll be core recipes.”
She plans a risotto column and will throw in a trick on how not to be pressured to cook it last minute before a dinner party. (Keep tuned.) “Come Christmas, I’ll do a basic sugar cookies and from there, show how you can do freezer cookies, cut outs and decorate them prettily.”
She says as a female chef (a pretty and blonde one at that), she’s felt pressure to prove herself. “I’ve assumed you have to work harder. There’s a notion for women in the kitchen to be perfect. Men can go off and be these rock star chefs like Anthony Bourdain but there’s a small window for women. I want to break that stereotype. I’d like to make cooking approachable and not have rigid guidelines. I want people to be happy when they cook.”
As for her own sense of ‘happy’, she’s found it with her Cooking 101 column. “I’ve always wanted to be where I am now. But I’ll always dream of opening my own restaurant one day. I want it all.”
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