I live in a peach-growing area and we have a peach orchard nearby. I was enjoying all the fresh peaches of summer and read somewhere about brining pork chops. I couldn't believe how tender and flavorful it could make a simple pork chop. It was a natural progression to add the peaches and it came together so nicely.What do you make from scratch that might surprise people?
I make a lot of things from scratch that might surprise people. I make homemade jam, bread, bagels, and tortillas as well as ketchup and pretzels.Wow, that's quite the list! Do you have your own garden?
Yes, and we just started our first planting this week. My kids are very involved, too. My little girl is doing onions and raspberries this year and my little boy is doing radishes and spinach. I've found that kids are more willing to try something if they've put it in the ground and watched patiently as it grows.Have your travels influenced your cooking?
Traveling has made a big impact on my cooking. It helps to open your mind and palate to new flavors and experiences. I've traveled through South America, the Middle East, and Europe. While I was living in Chile for a year and a half the people were so gracious and loving and the women were excellent cooks. They use a lot of locally grown in-season foods that provide great flavor and quality to the dishes.Do you cook from cookbooks or are you always creating new recipes on your own?
I rarely use a cookbook. I don't usually follow recipes or even bother dirtying measuring cups unless I'm baking! It's just easier that way.Who is your taste panel at home?
My husband and kids are pretty open to trying anything I create. We try to eat most meals together, too. My husband is good about being honest. I like things spicy, but he will tell me if the spice level needs to be toned down when we have guests over to eat.Are your kids pretty good about trying new foods?
I try to have my children taste everything, but when you're little you don't always want to. If they take at least one bite, I'm satisfied. They will look at some things and say they don't want to, but when they do, they like it. My little boy loves spicy foods and ethnic cuisine. He just doesn't like boring food! It's the opposite of most children.Who are your biggest culinary inspirations?
I credit my cooking abilities to my mother's influence in the kitchen. My mom is Italian and we Italians love our food! If you love food, you have to learn how to be a good cook.