Life & Musings

cooking inspiration: my talented friend katherine

My pal Katherine has hands down been one of the most influential people in my life that inspired me to get cookin’ (and writing too)! We’ve known each other for years, and she was the first person who taught me how to throw a dinner party – I’ll never forget it. We made this spice-rubbed pork loin (forgive the bad photos – old post – but DELICIOUS!), cranberry almond rice pilaf, fresh green beans and this perfect pineapple coconut rice pudding that was her own recipe that I will post soon because it’s freaking EPIC. That night (and many after that) she taught me to cook what’s in season, not to stress out too much about being exact and to try new things.

Katherine also really pushed me to write. She even had me over to review our short stories. Even though I still barely know where to put a comma, she encouraged me and told me to keep going. If I hadn’t met Katherine, I’m not sure this here blog would have been born – and for that, I am so thankful!

So in my series of folks who have inspired me – Mom & Grandma so far – it just seemed clear as day that Katherine had to be next.

Katherine is a great artist, chef, designer and writer, but even more importantly she’s been a kick-ass friend who is funny, witty as hell and incredibly smart. She moved back to her home town of Detroit years ago, so I was excited she let me re-connect with her via interview – brought back great memories. Let’s get to it!


How long have we known each other?
We’ve known each other since we were in our 20s. Like 10 or so years I think. Geez has it been that long? I remember the day I met you. We have a mutual friend, the wonderful Mike Borchardt. I had met him not long before meeting you. He and I both worked at Sam’s Wines and Spirits, he in the warehouse and me in the cheese department. He took me to a party at your house and I remember liking you right away and hoping we could be best friends. I think you found me right away on myspace. Remember myspace!? Also your wedding totally got me a chef job. I remember the first time I went to pick up my check at Hearty Boys Catering and your face was everywhere! They had used a bunch of photos from your wedding to decorate their office. It was surreal.

She’s right, this photo of Sir Dave was up on their site forever! Hee hee!


Do you have a favorite memory of our time in Chicago together?
My favorite memory of our time in Chicago together was when I took you on the Katherine Montalto tour of the city. We went to all my favorite places: the museum of contemporary art, the main branch of the library, the garfield park conservatory, the museum of surgical history, millennium park. Bless you for putting up with my nerdy interests.

bean me annie

katherine reading

Detroit or Chicago?
Gah! This is such a tough choice. I really miss public transportation (even tho it smells like pee), the amazing parks, libraries, and museums of Chicago (total nerd stuff) and I do miss all my wonderful friends but Detroit is my hometown. My family is here. I have a great group of friends. The art scene is incredibly inviting and accessible. Most importantly Detroit has coney dogs.

If money were no issue, where would you be and what would you be doing?
If money was no issue I’d probably be living in Europe, writing weird fiction, making creepy art, and eating great food. That’s almost my life now just add in a boring 9-5 job and subtract out the living in Europe. Hmm it’s probably for the better. Most of my humor is based on American pop culture references that probably wouldn’t translate too well.

Love Katherine’s art – especially when a cat is involved. This is Ms. B, the sultry cat lady who is all business

Ms. B

What do you love more? Art, or food?
Another tough question. I love them both so much! I’ll have to say art because art doesn’t make me fat.

You have chicken, a jalepeno, and a pineapple – what do you make?
Hmmm. I’d probably make some sort of pineapple salsa and grilled chicken.

What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
There are so many to choose from. I remember a meal I had in Chicago at the now closed Sweets & Savories, a Kobe beef burger topped with truffle mayo, French fries fried in duck fat (the best kind of fat), mac and cheese with like seven kinds of cheese and topped with truffles, and like three New Castle beers. It was so rich! I threw up a few hours later. It smelled like truffles.

There is a restaurant here in Hamtramck, Rock City Eatery, that makes a wonderful poutine with duck confit gravy. It’s worth being fat for. Every meal I have there is great.

*photo from – I need to get to Detroit stat, gimme!

What is the one cooking utensil you HAVE to have at all times?
I don’t like a lot of gadgets. I think they take up too much space and are rarely that useful. Most things that can be done with a gadget can be done with a good chef knife. My advice is stay away from rice cookers, steamers, breadmakers and such. Have a good set of pots and pans (including a double boiler with steam pot), good knives, a kitchen-aid mixer, a crock pot, and food processor. Use your stovetop and oven to steam and bake. Use a crock pot to slow cook stuff. I mean I guess if gadgets are you thing, go with gadgets 🙂

What is THE most overrated ingredient/food right now?
I don’t know. I find that whenever I’m tired of hearing about something, usually after I try it I love it. There’s not too much I don’t like. The thing I do hate tho is talking about food trends. It really bugs me when I read about some ingredient or dish being the new hot thing. Food is like art. It’s so much better when it’s made for the pure joy of it and not to follow some trend that is only called a trend because someone is trying to market it and co-opt it.

I know you have a vegetable garden – what’s your favorite veggie to grow and what do you do with it?
Ha! oh my vegetable garden. It totally got away from me this year. I’ll refer you to a haiku I wrote about it. Hopefully I get it together this fall so I have a nice garden to work with in the summer. I’d like to grow a lot of stuff that keeps coming back like asparagus, go the permaculture route. We have a quarter acre lot. I’d like to get rid of as much of the grass as possible, gross some fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and have a few raised beds for veggies.

If you had one tip for a new cook learning, what would it be?
I think the best advice I could give is a trick I learned in culinary school. Write down every new recipe by hand before you cook it. It’s the best way to truly understand all the steps. There’s something about writing things about by hand that really etches information in your brain.

Thanks fabulous Katherine for letting me write this post about you. And I have to end with this photo of all my lady friends from at least a decade ago (Katherine included) when I threw my first big dinner party – 50’s themed! So much fun. Cheers from Chicago to Detroit, girl.


7 replies »

  1. Annie,
    I’m so glad you’re able to post more. I enjoy your blogs.
    “cook what’s in season, not to stress out too much about being exact and to try new things.” This quote is phenomenal! This is my take on cooking exactly. The not exact is the reason why I am not a baker….lol!
    I love reading these interviews. Another great post!

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