1. Name, occupation, and city
Kimberly Rae Miller, Writer, Brooklyn, NY. Besides my professional writing, I write two personal foodcentric blogs. The Kim Challenge, where I chronicle my daily eating habits. My second blog is Forkful of News, where I collaborate with writers all over the country to focus on all things food: recipes, reviews, food politics, gadgets, you name it, if it’s edible we’re into it.
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
I hosted an ethnic/regional potluck in celebration of my birthday. I asked friends to bring foods that represent their ethnic or regional background. It was amazing we had food representing Texas, India, Sweden, Poland, Iran, Russia, Italy, Cuba and a few more that I can’t remember off hand. It was a really great night of eating. I made labels for each dish that included a “What, Where, Who” which really kept conversation flowing. It was great to see people so proud and involved with their food.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
Many years ago a friend bought me a beautiful tea set. I like to air it out once a year for a tea party. It’s a great spread with quiche, scones, fresh clotted cream (or the closest I could make to the real thing), three types of finger sandwiches, cookies and meringues.
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
I’m not a big cocktail girl. I like my alcohol pure but my preferences between wine, beer and liquor really depend on what I’m eating. If I could choose one though, I would say you can’t go wrong with wine.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
I love Putumayo World Music compilation CDs. My last party I played their Latin Lounge album. It’s great unobtrusive background music, it sets a mood without making you feel like you need to really listen.
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
Chili. In my opinion chili is casual comfort food, the kind of food people don’t feel weird about taking seconds of…and that’s how you should feel when you’re at someone’s home. Comfort. I usually make it with ground turkey and always have a few cans of beans and tomato sauce in the pantry for emergencies. It’s also a great way dispose of produce that may be almost stale…anything can go in chili.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I do (except for the potluck), I’m a total control freak in the kitchen. I’m starting to learn however, that as a host you have more fun if you’re not constantly timing, stirring, and serving.
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
Sometimes I’ll buy store bought ingredients, like a pie crust, or chips for a pre dinner gnash, ice cream to go with pie, but I’ve never served a store bought entrée. The journey is a part of the gift…and cooking for people is a way to show them you care about them.
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
It depends on the type of party. I'm a huge fan of cookies, and think there's nothing quite as delicious as homemade ice cream sandwiches. If I'm rushed for time I throw throw together clafoutis-it's so easy, yet people are always so impressed with it.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
This will sound totally lame, my grandfather. He was an amazing cook and my family still talk about his culinary adventures. He died when I was very young, I would love to have him over for dinner and show him that the family tradition is living strong.
[Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Rae Miller]