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updated: 2/21/2013 9:53 AM

Naperville mom becoming more adventurous in kitchen

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  • Video: Terri Edmunds of Naperville

  • Terri Edmunds makes Duchess Potatoes, fancy mashed potatoes. The little bit of extra effort makes a big impact on the plate.

       Terri Edmunds makes Duchess Potatoes, fancy mashed potatoes. The little bit of extra effort makes a big impact on the plate.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Terri Edmunds isn't afraid to experiment with ingredients or techniques.

       Terri Edmunds isn't afraid to experiment with ingredients or techniques.
    photos by Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 

By Deborah Pankey

Daily Herald food editor

dpankey@dailyherald.com

Terri Edmunds grew up around food.

Her family owned a bed-and-breakfast near the Eastern coast, and her mother and grandmother were always cooking, not just for guests, but for the family.

"My mom always cooked for us; she had four kids," recalls Terri, who now lives in Naperville. "We had fresh seafood and we'd pull carrots from the ground. We were living off the land."

Yet at 10, her relationship with food changed when she was diagnosed with diabetes.

"Back then they were very careful about introducing any sugar into the diet," she says of that earlier approach to managing diabetes. She said her mother would try to cut sugar from baked goods, with not-so-delicious results.

"For today's diabetics nothing is off limits; you can have whatever you want ... just count carbs and take insulin."

While she bakes for her husband, Tim, and two kids, Emily, 12, and Nathan, 8, Terri favors savory dishes and strives to make fast, delicious dinners for family and friends.

"I don't meal plan; on my way home from work, about three times a week, I stop at the store. I don't know what's for dinner until I'm in the store," Terri says. "So when I get home I have 30 minutes max to get a meal on the table."

Still, she does do some advance work. On Sundays she might caramelize a mess of onions (her technique takes a not-so-weeknight-friendly one hour and 45 minutes) that can go into pasta, soup or quiche.

She also relies on her herb garden to add a bit of "wow" to her recipes.

"Herbs are my go-to thing ... fresh herbs bring a different taste to things," she says.

In the past year Terri says she's become more adventurous with ingredients and technique. She credits the Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge cooking competition (she was one of 16 competitors and made it to the final four) with giving her confidence to try new things, like Duchess Potatoes.

She'd always liked the creamy potato rosettes when she'd eaten them elsewhere, but the thought of using a pastry bag intimidated her. Today on video she proves that 1) she's mastered the pastry bag and 2) you can too.

"I had had this recipe but I kept ignoring it," she said. Once she got the piping technique down, she tweaked the recipe, adding herbed cheese to the mix.

Terri says she toyed with the idea of being a caterer, but for now is content to work her marketing job for a global telecom company and share meals with families in need and auction her culinary services for school fundraisers, like the Super Bowl Party she cooked for earlier this month.

"I raise money for school and this allows me to 'cater' something," she says. "It's a win-win."

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to food@dailyherald.com.

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