Food & Wine
It’s a grand thing to find a blog that you instantly fall in love with, where the writer has such a resonant voice, soaring with authenticity, passion, positivity and humanity - all wrapped in each and every recipe.
This week’s story features Deb’s Pots, a blog that contains unique recipes from the hearth of Deborah Bernstein. Each recipe is a story unto itself and are a delight to feast upon, along with her irresistibly honest self-revelations, photography, and pottery - all making for a most engaging read, whether you actually make the recipes or not.
I met Deb several years ago when I owned a bookstore in Warwick, NY. Our conversations back then hinged on her love of food, her work as a psychologist, her commitment to pottery, and above all, her love of family and the supreme role her two children and husband play in her life. I’ll never forget her advice on bananas. “They are filled with pesticides. So make sure you buy organic.”
I was fortunate to have met her daughter, Megan, before she went off to college and out into the larger world. I found her to be irresistibly charming, smart, witty, inquisitive…feeling that Deb was a very lucky woman to have such an impressive daughter. I know she feels the same way about her son and husband.
In Deb’s Pots you will find all those central pieces of her life woven intricately into her recipes. You will get to know Deb like I got to know Deb, a little upon each return. When Deb visited the bookstore, I knew I was in for a treat with her bubbling personality that could quickly devolve into a deeper conversation or into gushing emotion and gratitude for her love of family. And, of course, life.
Her recipes provide us a window into that world, connecting us to her spirit and shedding light into her creative gifts that include food, pottery, writing, photography, psychology, family and all the other things Deb loves to make. She is a creative force, a work in progress.
I have chosen 3 recipes from her blog – a sauce/dip, a dessert, and a main entree - to help illustrate her brilliance. I know however that once you start reading, you may forget to turn back to see what our next recommended recipe is. That’s ok. We won’t mind. Just keep reading and enjoy her recipes, the photos, the pottery....
The first one we chose is called the “Goddess of Green,” basically a very unique avocado dipping sauce, one of several fabulous accompaniments you will find in her blog that include tzatziki, hummole, siracha lime sauce, tahini and a peanut sauce. I’ve chosen this recipe because this year I’ve personally enjoyed buying and eating avocadoes (yes, in advance, patiently waiting for them to ripen), dicing them up in my salads or for making guacamole as a mid-afternoon snack. I’ve discovered they are delicious not only when ripened to perfection, but are filled with those essential oils that promote health and well being. To me they are just the perfect food and I believe Deb shares my love affair with this vegetable, providing some mouthwatering insights on them.
In this recipe, Deb takes guacamole to the next level, using it as a creamy dipping sauce for other mouth watering delectables. The recipe includes a couple of lushly ripe avocadoes that are blended with some other fitting ingredients, including sour cream, and provides a wonderfully photographed spread of roasted vegetables on one of her gorgeous pots that will inspire you to get grilling, as it did me. This recipe includes a little personal history on her Goddess days and distant memories of a once upon a time food fad inspiring the title of this recipe. Here we also get a glimpse of the bond that she has with her son, Brian, and the beautiful fired pots upon which her food rests. You’ll find much more if you pick at this recipe, much more than I could put into words.
The next recipe we chose is called “When Life Gives You Lemons,” a lemon curd recipe that Deb prefaces with: “I want to make you something a little more fun with my lemons today. How about some lemon curd? I adore lemon curd! I like everything about it except the name. Curd. Just doesn’t sound appealing, right? But let’s make some anyway; there are so many wonderful things you can do with it!”
What I enjoyed most about this recipe is Deb’s honest self revelation, acknowledging that she has had her fair share of lemons (haven’t we all) and that’s precisely why I’m drawn to this one, if for anything, her deep empathies with the reader.
On the day she is making lemon curd, she is experiencing some trials with a construction project going on in her home. Making this lemon recipe, in part, serves as metaphor to help smooth over some of the frustrating edges (and adversity) she is feeling from the project.
She states: “This blog is my way of “making lemonade” out of the “lemons” inherent in our construction process. While the inconveniences and hassles of demolition and building are in a different category from the tragedies I have faced in my life, they are tricky in their own way and certainly test my good cheer on a regular basis.
By recipes end, she is smathering the curd on all kinds of goodies and then intends on making it a mother’s day special event for her daughter and mother– other women in her life who too have overcome adversity. This is one of several recipes that take on symbolic significance, such as her Chinese Sweet and Sour soup, becoming a cathartic experience for her to heal all kinds of psychological wounds.
The last recipe we’ve chosen is a main entrée called "Deb’s Chicken Parmesan." Trust me, I love her Honey Sesame Glazed Salmon recipe too, but was particularly drawn to the why of this recipe more than the food of it. It’s at this time that Spring has now arrived in its starts and stops and that darn construction project continues to impose setbacks.
Deb lets loose and says, “Progress is an odd concept, isn’t it? We all tend to think that we are moving forward when we can measure our successes in clearly defined steps. In fact, rather than in a straight line, progress tends to happen in fits and starts. This happens frequently in the dr deb office and I often warn my clients that when they begin to feel better, they need to expect and to integrate the inevitable setbacks. In reality, progress is rarely linear.”
And for me that is the rub of this recipe. In spite of what’s happening, Deb advises to stay in the moment and go with your cravings, like she does on this day, whipping up her chicken parm specialty.
She states, “I really wanted Chicken Parm, could practically taste the crispy coating, the sweet/savory tomato sauce and the ooey gooey melty cheese. The meaning of the craving became clear to me: I need to practice what I preach: Live in the moment.”
Just as much as you are what you eat, you are what you think and do. Deb’s recipes are a distillation of leading such a balanced life, of a person who has strove to match her love of food with her love for self-actualization. It’s all here, in a mix of very neat, descriptive, inspiring, artistic and delectable recipes that won’t disappoint you.