If you’ve met Terra once, you’ll never forget her. It’s okay because nobody forgets her. Why? If you leave her a comment or send her a tweet or send a message on Facebook, Terra remembers it and returns the favor. There’s always a kind comment to a new post or a tweet – and she’s one of the busiest bloggers who also works full time.
She loves food as we can tell from her Cafe Terra Blog but she also works as a food safety / quality assurance auditor — one of those folks who make sure there aren’t too many bugs behind the kitchen door at our favorite restaurants.
She didn’t start out in food. Her first degree was in broadcasting and she wanted to be a camera operator in New York City. While studying for that degree, she met her husband and they were married 3 years later. You know the old saying, “go to college and find a husband?” I don’t think that applies to Terra, but maybe…
She was raised in a small town in Michigan, moved to Arizona for 15 years and lived in Boise, Idaho during her internship so she’s seen a bit of the country. She and her husband and their furry companions now live in North Carolina.
Terra’s second degree was nutritional science as she wanted to be a Registered Dietician. During her dietetic internship she met someone in the food safety industry and was hooked on this aspect of the food industry. She loves her job and can’t think of anything she’d enjoy doing more – for right now.
She’s also worked as a veterinary technician and a radio disc jokey so she’s certainly found her passion through a circuitous route.
Through Cafe Terra Blog, she’s able to share her love of food and exercise her creativity by making dishes that make her sing. (She doesn’t sing out loud so maybe that’s not one of her talents.) Whether she’s making a recipe from scratch, like her “52 Ways to Enjoy Chobani Greek Yogurt,” that she’s making into an e-book or whether she’s changing up a recipe from a book or another blogger, Cafe Terra Blog gives her great satisfaction.
When I asked her what recipes that she’s created that make her most proud, she chose one of my favorites – her never-fail lemon curd.
Since I am a self-taught chef, there are a lot of recipes I have never made before, but I have wanted to. For example, Eclairs and Lemon Curd were two recipes I am so happy to say they were a success on my first or second try! Also, I had never made bread a day in my life, until about two years ago. I was so excited to eat a homemade English Muffin and Homemade Bagels I now have made many loaves of bread, especially since I worked at a cafe here in Charlotte making bread daily. Another recipe that I am really proud of is Lemon Chess Pie a Southern favorite.
You might think because of her studies and her job that she always eats home cooked, sensible food but she’s quick to tell me that she and hubby both enjoy a splurge every now and again AND she eats Taco Bell! I haven’t had nachos bell grande for ten years but I can still remember it fondly.
I wondered what food safety issues affect us home cooks more than others, so I asked a question of the expert.
Probably the areas that are more of a concern in a home food safety are overall cleanliness in a kitchen, cooking food at proper temperatures, and proper hand washing techniques.
Cleanliness in a kitchen involves not only your equipment, dishes, and counter tops. Something easily overlooked are the sponges we clean our dishes with. The sponges are probably the dirtiest item in your kitchen. It is best practice to change out your sponge frequently, or you can clean it in your dish washer whenever you run it.
Cooking temperatures are something that is hard to know, because each item has a different specific temperature. For example, it is important to cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, fish should be cooked to 145, and hamburgers should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 155. BUT the big question is, do people have a thermometer to ensure the items meet the the proper temperatures? The answer is easily no. Reaching these internal temperatures helps reduce chances of any food borne illness.
AND handwashing, well that is something we all just need to do more often- even at home. It seems to get overlooked at important times while cooking. Just keep a bottle of dish soap near by, and some paper towels, make them your best friend!
When Terra started her blog, she did what many of us did in the beginning. We read other peoples’ blogs and were tempted to try things we’d only seen in books (or blogs). Terra was scared to try steamed mussels because of a food scare with a raw oyster in her past – most things in a shell scared her. Once she tried the mussels (and didn’t get sick) she’s a fan. She also loves Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods and has a goal to try anything and she means ANYTHING. I wish I had her fortitude. I like most things but there are things I wouldn’t attempt. I don’t do bugs.
Terra’s family includes quite a few pets (four) and they are the light of her life and she’s been known to cook their food from scratch but prefers to buy a high quality pet food when she can. With the food safety in the back of my mind I asked if there were places her “kids” couldn’t go and there are no rules at the Cafe Terra kitchen. Thankfully the cats don’t get on the counters so it’s all good.
As you know, food memories are very special to me. I guess because I’m so far from my roots and my family, food memories can really make a difference on a “homesick day” that all expats get from time to time. Memory food helps.
When Terra was growing up, her Grandma made snickerdoodles for her and her cousin, molasses cookies for her sister and chocolate chip cookies for another cousin. The family still daydreams about those cookies because what your Grandma makes is always extra special because she’s made it just for you.
Grandmas have time. One year after Terra moved to Arizona, her grandmother sent her some of her favorite apple crisp for Christmas all the way from Michigan. Now that’s a Grandma worth keeping.
Terra moved away from Michigan in 1995 and hasn’t had Grandma’s delicious aromas wafting around but she frequently talks with her Grandma about food and recipes and especially rhubarb. They share a big love of rhubarb.
Here is the recipe for her Grandma’s Snickerdoodle cookies. They take Terra back to her childhood with the first bite. Maybe they’ll be memory cookies we’ll pass down to others.
- 1 cup butter flavored shortening
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ¾ cups flour
- 2 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Mix together shortening, sugar, and eggs.
- In separate bowl mix together flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix well. Chill for about 2 hours.
- Grease baking sheet. In small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Make walnut size balls with dough, roll one side of ball in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on oven.
- Enjoy your favorite childhood recipe with a tall glass of milk!