Kay Chisholm makes Sauteed Vegetables with Couscous
She's prepared with a full pantry and a pinch of pizazz
Kay Chisholm calls her basement pantry "the bomb shelter," stocked with enough food that "we could live there a couple months."
She's got pastas, canned tomatoes, chicken and beef stock, spaghetti sauce, risotto, canned fish, chicken and sardines, smoked oysters, anchovies, chips, crackers and pita chips.
If the bomb drops, Kay will eat well, if nothing else.
Her freezer is equally well stocked.
"Right now I have duck, chicken, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin and pork chops," she says. "I always have frozen French bread, pizza, puff pastry and pie crust.
"I'm always ready for anything."
The mother of a college student, Karly, and a high school freshman, Kyle, she prepares soups and stews to have on hand for a healthy, "fast-food" meals or snacks.
"When the kids are around they can pull it out of the freezer and throw it into the microwave," she says.
After a day's work at Palatine High School, in the transition services department, Kay goes home, decides what she has a taste for and starts preparing something for her husband, Craig, and Kyle.
"Sometimes it's not so great," she concedes, but it is always homemade and hot.
Kay looks for ways to make food healthier. She uses olive oil in place of butter, evaporated milk in place of cream and she grills instead of frying.
From her garden she sows fresh herbs, edible flowers, tomatoes, green beans and more; she pickles beets, cans vegetables and freezes herbs in a puree with olive oil.
"The parsley gets ugly, but if you blend it into something, nobody knows," says Kay, who babies her herbs through the fall, covering them with a blanket at night.
With a background in interior design - she ran a furniture showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago for 15 years - Kay enjoys the artful presentation of food.
"I try to add a drizzle of something to add pizazz."
his week Kay gives us a complete menu suitable for cold-weather entertaining.
For the main course, she marinated pork tenderloin in herbs, maple syrup, raspberry vinegar and Dijon mustard, smokes it and serves it with a zippy cranberry-raspberry-chipotle glaze.
Mixed bean salad with feta and onion goes together easy and can be elegantly served in store-bought phyllo cups.
For another side, try her couscous molds, topped with sauteed vegetables and nuts.
"It looks like you've really done something special when you haven't," she says.