Table Talk with the Leigh!

Every month Eating Well magazine features a celebrity/chef/foodie in their Table Talk column and asks them a series of questions to get to know them and their food related interests more fully! It is typically one of my favorite pieces in the magazine, not only because of my minor celebrity obsession but also because I often find myself surprised by their passion for food and inspired by some of the ways in which they use food as a means of giving back. Long story short, I in no way consider myself a celebrity, LOL! And truth be told I am a self taught home chef with no specific training, but I am a foodie – there’s no doubt – and I thought it might be fun for my readers to learn a little bit more about me and what makes my foodie heart tick! So here goes!!

Finish this sentence: To me cooking is… my art! Cooking makes me feel creative, useful and proud. I get to show off my skills and feed my peeps while earning great personal satisfaction. Cooking can calm me down, helps me focus and gives me purpose. Putting a home cooked, healthy and delicious meal on the table and sharing it with my family is one of the most fulfilling acts I perform each day.

What is always in your fridge? Much to my husband’s dismay… condiments and leftovers! I have enough prepared dressings, sauces and spreads to feed 5 families and the overflowing refrigerator doors to prove it! And leftovers – I have a portion problem! I cook like I am feeding a small army and there are always Tupperware containers of various shapes and sizes stacked in our fridge. We sometimes play a little game and try to eat all the leftovers before garbage day on Friday!

What’s a kitchen tool you can’t live without? My kitchen scissors. I use them for EVERYTHING! I open things, chop things, trim things, slice things… you name it! I actually have two pair because one is always in the dish drain. My biggest kitchen pet peeve is when they go missing because someone in my house used them for arts and crafts!!

Beer, wine or cocktail? This is hard because I love a fun cocktail but I couldn’t live in a world without wine! Beer is best with burgers and on sunny afternoons. So basically, I drink, LOL!

What’s your if-I-only had-one-meal-left-meal? Also, a tough question! It’s hard to name one specific meal but it would probably include carbs like potatoes or pasta and definitely dairy like butter or cheese! So take your pick – a giant bowl of mashed potatoes with a glop of butter or an equally giant bowl of pasta with some kind of cheesy sauce. (Clearly, I don’t count calories!)

What health ritual do you never skip, no matter how hectic life gets? Walking my two dogs. It’s good for me and they need the outlet too. I try and workout 5 times per week but when life gets in the way or I am feeling less than motivated I never skip out on walking the dogs. It kills two birds with one stone plus, I am often joined by my husband and it is our time together to catch up and just be Us.

What environmental issue speaks to you the most? The need to reduce our waste, hence I am an avid recycler. So much so that our recycling bins are always more full than our regular garbage cans. In addition, I reuse and up-cycle everything I can from plastic bags to clothing and housewares. The counter near my kitchen sink is home to washed out and drying baggies and there’s always a growing pile of “stuff” in the basement, waiting to be donated.

What food says home to you and why? Pot roast. I grew up watching my mom make it. She learned from her mom. It was one of the first recipes I learned to make on my own. Now, when I make it for my family and the aromas fill the kitchen, it takes me right back to my childhood and the visual of my mom at her stove.

Tell us about your upcoming food writer gig. I was recently asked to supply a recipe, photograph and commentary for my dear friends Marybeth and Tom Cale’s, magazine called Living Rhinebeck. The magazine features a different family each month from their area and is sponsored by local businesses. Marybeth and Tom serve as publishers, writers and curators and do a fantastic job highlighting not only the happenings but also the magnificent folks living in the greater Rhinebeck, NY and Hudson River Valley. Needless to say, when she asked me if I would like to join in the fun and share my love of food, I was ecstatic! Although I don’t live in Rhinebeck, my family visits often and we own property not far from there. I’ve spent the majority of my life’s weekends in the Catskills and consider my self a “local” of sorts.

What are some of your favorite recipes you plan to feature? I consider myself a comfort food-ist! Most of the recipes that I share on my blog and via Instagram share that theme. Many people assume comfort food is fattening food, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Although I don’t shy away from butter, sauces and sweets, I try my hardest to find a balance, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and pride myself on taking recipes I find and making them my own by putting my own spin on the ingredients and cutting fat and calories when possible without sacrificing flavor! The plan for the magazine is to feature tried and true family favorites which in our house almost always fall into the “comfort” category like Green Mac-n-Cheese made with parsley and spinach or Turkey Burger Sliders with broccoli slaw.

What do the words “eating well” mean to you? To me, “eating well” means sitting down around a big table and sharing a delicious home cooked meal, interesting conversation and a good bottle of wine with my family and dearest friends!

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