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Expert Interview Series: Jane Craske of Jane's Adventures in Dinner About Preparing Tasty Meals For Parties and Gatherings

Jane Craske is a happy wife and mummy who enjoys cooking, knitting, vintage hunting, blogging, and wandering in Lola (the Airstream). She recently sat down with us to share her thoughts on canning, sharing recipes, and cooking for family...

Canning

Jane Craske is a happy wife and mummy who enjoys cooking, knitting, vintage hunting, blogging, and wandering in Lola (the Airstream). She recently sat down with us to share her thoughts on canning, sharing recipes, and cooking for family and friends.

How did Jane's Adventures in Dinner come about?

Well, I always loved to cook (which means that I shadowed my grandmother every possible minute), and eventually I trained as a chef and got my Red Seal qualifications. At the same time, I started to teach a course and discovered that teaching was something I loved too - and the hours were much better.

So, I worked as a full-time chef while I went to university, and I eventually earned a post-grad degree in education from Oxford and started to teach grade 8. I kept my cooking as a very fun hobby and spent a lot of time making my friends and family a little wider.

Fast forward to a surprise baby at 40 and the first time in my life that I was ever at home for an extended period without a boisterous crowd around me. Jane's Adventures in Dinner was begun as a way for a new/isolated mum to reach out and share my thoughts with a community - even though I had a newborn during a very cold Ottawa winter.

Is it more challenging to prepare meals for parties or gatherings today than in years past because of the wide variety of dietary needs/lifestyles/restrictions that can be found these days? How do you address this issue?

It does seem that at each family and friends' gathering, there's a new dietary challenge that arises; but for me, it just makes it that much more fun. I have Crohn's/colitis, so traditional dairy is not my friend; however, I've found a multitude of lactose-free products. Hunting to find the way around an issue is the exciting part of planning an event.

What are your favorite types of recipes that you love sharing on your blog?

I think that my favorite blog posts center around the recipes that come from my Gran. They are always the tastiest ones, and it gives me a chance to revisit very happy memories. My Gran is gone and Alzheimer's has ravaged the rest of the family, so this is a way for me to share my family history with my little one.

What are some of the ingredients or techniques that you're experimenting with now?

 

I'm really getting into candy making right now. There is glucose and rice paper all over the kitchen.

Could you share a recipe with us for an entree that is guaranteed to wow guests at a dinner party?

This recipe takes minutes to make but lets you toss around terms like beurre compose and game birds (a term that's just right for a double entendre).

BUTTERY QUAIL

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

6 quail

stems from 1 bunch of parsley

½ cup butter

½ tsp pepper

2 T horseradish

zest of 1 lemon

½ tsp mustard powder

Instructions:

Place parsley stems on the bottom of a shallow baking dish (I spray mine because cleaning pans is not my favorite part of a meal), and add the hens breast side up. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and slather over the hens. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes (basting halfway through).

Finish this sentence: "When canning, the most important thing to remember is..."

...boil, boil, sterilize, boil. Canning is something I'm obsessed with; but if you don't can safely, you can quite literally kill someone. Canning is as close to alchemy and having the godlike ability to trap the season as we mere humans can come to. Respect the need to have a sterile environment.

When you're cooking dinner, what are some of your kitchen utensils, tools, or items that you can't live without?

I always need really good knives and a sharpening steel. The most dangerous knife is a dull one.

What gadget, appliance, or other kitchen item do you rely on when making desserts?

I'm not much of a gadget girl. You just don't usually use them in a commercial kitchen. I think my fanciest gadget is likely my mandolin. I love those razor thin slices.

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