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FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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Home Cooking with Susan Kosior

Home Cooking continues as we head into the holiday season. This week’s interview is with Stafford County resident Susan Kosior. If you’d like to participate in this feature, e-mail me.

Name: Susan Kosior

In a couple of sentences, tell us who you are and why you cook.

For the past 3 ½ years, I’ve been a stay-at-home wife and mother. I’m a pretty eclectic cook, but have

always cooked as a way to save time and money. This summer, I was unexpectedly widowed and I’ve

cooked as catharsis, really. My daughter and I are often at a loss for what to do with ourselves, so we

bake or cook something and it makes us both happy to be doing something fun together with an end

result. She’s only three, but has been in the kitchen with me since she was about 18 months old and is

pretty good at helping out.

I also love to entertain, to cook with friends, to learn from them and teach them a few tricks. I’ve got

friends from all different cultural backgrounds and it’s fun to learn about places I’ve never been through

the food people make. Watching other people enjoy something I cooked just for them is pure joy.

Describe your cooking style in three words.

Adventurous, warm, fun…

How did you learn to cook?

I mostly learned to cook from watching my mom. I am still in awe of the fact that she managed to

grocery shop only once every two weeks and made amazing meals on a budget and stuck to a meal plan.

I have such trouble doing that!

Additionally, my mother-in-law has also taught me lots of quick and easy recipes and intrigued me with

how to make something fabulous with only a few ingredients. I’ve learned a lot by way of technique

from watching the Food Network.

Favorite cookbook (or online recipe source) of all time, or just of the moment?

Pinterest! I love the variety of recipes, things I’d never considered or heard of. It’s pretty rare that I

make the same thing more than once—we have to REALLY love it—so the variety of things that I can find

to try on Pinterest is truly awesome. My friends help me find new things to try all the time and then we

report back to each other on what worked, what was good, and what’s worth skipping.

What is one dish on your menu this week that you’re excited about?

We are going to try a restaurant knock off of a Tuscan soup. It has sausage and bacon, kale and onions,

and of course parmesan cheese in it and sounds warming and filling.

What is one thing that must be in your pantry at all times?

Garlic. I have a big jar of it in the fridge, several bulbs of fresh garlic, and garlic salt and powder in the

spice rack. I’ve found very little (except chocolate cake) that can’t be improved with a little bit of garlic!

What one kitchen gadget could you not live without?

My silicone scrapers. I have four of them, and all four of them always seem to be in the dishwasher. I have

replaced everything with them except that I do have to use a spatula or tongs on occasion. They really

can do it all!

It’s 6 p.m., the people in your household are hungry and you just walked in from work and need to get something satisfying on the table as soon as possible. What’s your favorite thing to whip up in this situation?

I would be most likely to fire up my indoor grill and cook up some chicken breasts. I like to either buy them pre-marinated or freeze them in marinade so cooking them is a snap. My daughter loves pasta, so in a situation where time is of the essence, making couscous is a great choice, since it’s done in about 5 minutes and so easy. I also love steam fresh veggies that I can microwave in the bag. I’m all about convenience when there’s a cranky, hungry 3-year-old screaming at me, and all of these foods basically cook themselves.

It’s a snowy Sunday, you’ve just done the grocery shopping and have the rest of the day to spend in the kitchen cooking a meal that will bring comfort. What’s for dinner?

Anything in the crock pot. I love using the crock pot, whatever you cook in there makes the whole house seem warm and comforting. We’ve tried soups, pastas, pork, pot roast, all kinds of great stuff with minimal effort, and you can enjoy your family!

What is your favorite dish to make for pot-luck dinners?

For breakfast/brunches, I like to make scones. I have a cookbook written by a chef who used to work at Buckingham Palace, and his recipe for scones has won me rave reviews. For lunch or dinner meals, I have a sure-fire fake risotto dish that is always a hit. It’s ridiculously easy, takes only a few ingredients, but tastes like you’ve been slaving over it, and makes a ton!

Do you have a favorite food source (this could be a farm, a grocery store, an experience like pick-your-own berries or a maker of specialty food products) in the Fredericksburg region?

I love Wegmans. There are tons of options and ideas for cooking and the people who work there are always willing to give you ideas, suggestions, and samples. I like to try things there that I wouldn’t have ordinarily made and then I try to learn to make it myself if we liked it. Sometimes there are so many options, it gets overwhelming, but their app makes it easy to find things. For the most part, it elevates grocery shopping from drudgery to an experience.

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