New columnist, new horizons to discover in Food

  • Finding red, white and blue food isn't easy, but dessert is another matter. These cunning berry parfaits are perfect for celebrating July 4.

    Finding red, white and blue food isn't easy, but dessert is another matter. These cunning berry parfaits are perfect for celebrating July 4. Courtesy of Weelicious.com

  • Karen Nochimowski

    Karen Nochimowski

 
 
Posted6/30/2021 6:00 AM

Many of our readers turn to the Food section each Wednesday to expand their culinary horizons or find recipes for something new but realistic to cook up on a busy weeknight.

Today, I'd like to introduce you all to Karen Nochimowski of Deerfield, the creativity and know-how behind the popular food blog MommaChef.com. She'll be writing regularly here in the Daily Herald Food section.

 

Karen writes for her readers as if she were their friendly neighbor who likes to cook. She also shares what she knows about being a busy mom trying to get a healthy meal on the table.

"The truth is, I'm not a perfect neighbor. What I am is a real momma who works to balance the everyday chaos of raising three boys ages 12, 8, and 5 with my culinary creativity," she says.

Karen finds a sanctuary in the kitchen and has loved cooking for as long as she can remember. She's found her niche in creating easy, quick recipes using a minimum of ingredients. Friends and family regularly ask for her secrets, and now she's willing to share with all of us, too.

In a step toward broadening her reach to neighbors in need, Karen opened a Chicago-based soup kitchen to service underprivileged and under-resourced families in 2018. Once a week, Momma Chef's Soup Kitchen at Congregation K.I.N.S. provides a seven-course homemade hot dinner, as well as bagged lunches to-go.

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I hope you enjoy reading Karen's column and blog as much as I do.

What I'm cooking

Recently, I was asked what I'm cooking. My answer, "nothing much." As the heat of summer unfolds, I find I am cooking less and less and just eating pieces of a meal. Raw cauliflower, ham wrapped around slices of creamy avocado, cubed watermelon out of the fridge or just a salad. My go-to vegetable soup is always on hand. I make mine with chicken broth, fresh corn, potato, spinach, carrots, onion and celery. That's pretty much the base, and I throw in whatever's handy -- juicy pieces of summer squash or cauliflower, cilantro or parsley. When the green beans are in, I'll add those too.

Without a grill handy, I am loath to turn on my oven. But, of course, summer produce can elevate a simple salad with blanched green beans, corn and black beans.

This cooking ennui will rub off eventually, and I'll get back into the kitchen. But, first, I'd like some recommendations for light summer meals using the bounty of produce that is already available. Email me favorites at sstark@dailyherald.com.

Dessert for July 4

I will be making some of these dairy-free 4th of July Parfaits from Catherine McCord of Weelicious. Angel food cake, fresh berries and coconut whipped cream sound like a dream for a hot summer day. Be sure to read the recipes through because you need to chill the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight before making it into whipped cream. And don't shake the can. You can also try your hand at baking an angel food cake or use a store-bought cake. See more summer recipes at Weelicious.com and on Instagram @weelicious.

New garden, cooking school

You might like to know that Food section columnist Leslie Meredith, of Kids Can Cook fame, has settled into and opened her new Farmhouse School in St. Charles. She'll be ready to offer classes after the July 4 holiday. She specializes in teaching kids to cook what can be grown in the garden, as her young students in her former location in Arlington Heights can attest, but she'll be branching out and teaching some adult cooking classes, too.

Her setup includes her historic home, cooking school, barn and gardens at 3N369 La Fox Road in St. Charles. For more information about Farmhouse School and its class schedule, check out Farmhouse School on Facebook or contact her at (312) 545-3750. And of course, you can continue to read her Kids Can Cook column monthly in the Daily Herald Food section, too.

• Contact Food Editor Susan Stark at sstark@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4586. Be her friend on Facebook.com/Susan Stark or follow her on Twitter @SusanNbr1.

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