Q: We're told you grew up on Southern food. Where was that and what kind of foods?
A: I grew up in Richmond, Va., and was taught to cook by my mother, who is a fabulous cook, and by my grandmother, who was a caterer. I have enjoyed cooking and baking my whole life because of the two of them. I had the typical Southern food growing up. My family ate dinner together every night, and we ate everything my mother cooked for us. Occasionally, our dog would benefit from those foods my brother and I were not willing to try.
Q: We also know that you strive to cook healthier. In what ways do you bridge the gap between traditional Southern dishes and eating healthier?
A: My husband works very hard to maintain his weight, and most people know it can't be done with exercise alone. I have found that if you eliminate all of the "good" fat in a dish, my daughter and I won't eat it. I try to reduce the excess butter, oil and heavy mayonnaise that is found in most Southern dishes, but leave in enough to give it a nice flavor. I am notoriously bad about creating a dish and not writing down what I am doing; it's just the way I was taught to cook. I tend to throw different ingredients together and see what happens.
Q: You also helped your husband lose 60 pounds (That was a year ago; is there an update?). Did you have a specific plan or strategy?
A: My husband surprised me at Christmas with a great herb garden, and I cook a lot with fresh herbs. I find they make all of the difference, especially if you are reducing the fat in a meal. Paul is also an avid hobby shrimper, and we use fresh shrimp all the time. He even heads them and peels them for me!
Q: Calories and fat aside, what is your favorite food of all time? Why?
A: Homemade macaroni and cheese would be up at the top of the list as well as tomato pie and almost anything made with bacon!
Q. What food discovery have you made in the past year (something interesting you had not tried before)?
A: I recently attended a cooking class and tried my hand at cooking pork belly — and I have to say as much as I love bacon, I could not stomach the pork belly! I plan to keep cooking and trying new foods, and I guess Paul and Lindsay will just feed those foods they are not willing to try to our dogs.
A favorite recipe:
Use fresh shrimp and herbs for this recipe.
Shrimp and Feta
Serves 3 to 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
Crushed or ground red pepper
1/3 cup good-quality white wine
About 2 cups of diced fresh Campari or plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon each: fresh oregano and basil
1/3 to 1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Following package directions, cook enough vermicelli for 4 servings. Keep pasta warm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the shrimp with the garlic and a dash of red pepper (or more if you like spicy) for about 2 minutes or until the shrimp are slightly pink. Remove, and place in a baking dish.
Add the white wine to the saute pan and reduce to around 1/4 cup. Add the fresh tomatoes and the oregano and basil. Stir for 1 minute. Pour over the shrimp. Top with feta cheese. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Bake in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes. Remove and serve over hot vermicelli. Top with fresh parsley. Serve with a great salad and a cold glass of white wine.
Residence: Mount Pleasant. My husband and I just completed building our house on the marsh last year and are loving the location.
Occupation: Partner and manager of the Animal Medical Clinic of Goose Creek.
Family: Husband, Paul; daughter, Lindsay, 7.