Debbie Lowen makes eggplant parmesan
Gadget lover lives in (cookware) danger zone
Debbie Lowen lives dangerously close to upscale cookware giant Williams-Sonoma and Home Goods, both in Algonquin, and it wouldn't take a CSI team to find the evidence.
A former representative for Pampered Chef and Longaberger Baskets, Debbie is a full-out gadget and cookware junkie. She devotes an undisclosed portion of her paycheck - "a lot of it!" - from an insurance company to her collection; but she makes good use of what she buys.
Most recently she bought Pampered Chef's new tool for breaking up ground beef or Italian sausage while browning.
"It works beautifully when I'm making tacos or chili, sloppy Joes or pizza," she raves, still sounding like the loyal rep.
She's got three sizes of all-purpose scoops, which she uses for today's meatball recipe and a variety of cookies.
Iron skillets? She's got two, "my favorite pans, the heat stays so even in them." She uses them to fry pork chops and chicken breasts and to saute onions and dozens of other cooking chores. One is a Chantal that she found at T.J. Maxx for $25, the other a Lodge brand.
At Williams-Sonoma she recently put on hold a new appetizer grill contraption that she'll use to make stuffed jalapenos or cherry tomatoes.
"I just thought that looked like fun," she says.
You get the idea: cooking is a blast for Debbie, who calls herself "just a family cook," but who entertains as often as possible, grows her own herbs, makes fresh vinaigrettes and shops at the Woodstock farmers market when possible.
During the week "I'm dishing out meat, vegetable, starch and salad" for her and husband, Bob, Woodstock's police chief, and her father who lives with them.
"Nobody loves casseroles," she says, so Debbie makes veal scallopine with pasta and salad, barbecue chicken with baked sweet potatoes and broccoli or pork chops with rice pilaf and a salad.
Sometimes their four grown children - "they are all good cooks" - their spouses and four grandchildren come over for a big family get-together.
"I prefer eating at home because it's relaxing," she says. "I like to have good conversation over a fresh meal."
Debbie designed the Carpentersville home she and Bob bought seven years ago, creating her "dream kitchen" with Viking oven, granite counter tops and cabinets to the ceiling.
"My husband and the kids all know, get mom something for the kitchen and she'll be happy," says Debbie.
For her birthday one year Bob gave her rooster place mats and napkins to match the gold and red country French decor in her breakfast room.
"It was really awesome that he put that together," she says.
On her wish list now: place settings for the same room.
"I get excited when I find different kitchen things," she says. "But I like to clothes shop, too."
I didn't ask what was in her closet.