Blogger Janelle Maiocco of Talk of Tomatoes Talks Home Cooking Tips

On her witty and insightful food blog, Talk of Tomatoes, Janelle Maiocco notes she’s “known to wield knives, pitchforks, and the occasional martini.” She wears many hats, in addition to being a blogger. Maiocco, who lives in the Seattle area, is a professionally trained chef, urban farmer, and entrepreneur. She talked to us about home cooking and tips for saving time in the kitchen. 

What’s your best piece of cooking advice for home cooks?

Enjoy when you can, cut corners when you cannot. Life is busy but you can still eat well. Use extra moments to tuck food/sauces into jars and your freezer for future short-cuts. A little planning goes a long way in making life-during-dinner-hour easier.

Make your kitchen, pantry and freezer work for you. I make ahead then stock my freezer with pesto, frozen bags of soup and chili, and freezer-pack bags of combined fruit for future smoothies. I try to make homemade salad dressings on the weekend, so all week my salad is more about ‘assembly’ than anything else. Have some go-to appetizers that are easy – like pesto on goat cheese sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. Consider making a list of your top five go-to meals. Feel free to add more or change them at will, and post it on the fridge to have them at the ready. I often remind myself: I run my kitchen. It doesn’t run me!

What’s in your fridge?

Love this question. Always:

  • Homemade chicken stock (whenever I have a chicken carcass I make stock, so there is always a batch on the stove).
  • Hoards of organic milk and juice (I have teenage sons).
  • A miniature gathering of jams, jellies and chutneys compliments of last summer/my pantry. I have a Master in Food Preservation which means I am always looking for ways to freeze, can, dry seasonal foods. Right now in my fridge: rhubarb chutney, strawberry jam, peach BBQ sauce and dilly beans.
  • Farm fresh eggs from my urban hens. I especially love the dark brown and light blue eggs … not to mention the bright orange yolks.
  • Way, way too much cheese.

What do you like to prepare when you’re too busy to cook?

I have a whole category on my blog and on Pinterest called ‘default dinners’ which pretty much sums up what I make week in and week out. I am all about efficiently making dinner with a few good ingredients. Since this is about tomatoes, I have my go-to basic tomato sauce and a sauce which I make in the summer, then freeze to have on hand for everything from spaghetti to lasagna and pizza sauce throughout the year.

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary