Selena Robins is a kindred spirit. We met through shared writing acquaintances and have become fast friends through Facebook and similar passions – writing, food, craft, and family. I’m excited to bring you an interview with Selena in which she discusses her pursuit of culinary perfection. Please held me welcome Selena to Knoontime Knitting!
KK: Tell me a little more about your passion for your craft. What do you like to make?
SR: My craft is the oldest profession in the world—cooking. I’m a big time foodie, so I watch a lot of cooking shows. I love Iron Chef. I then try (the operative word here is try) to replicate what the Iron Chefs made. However, I won’t attempt anything that involves organ meats or gooey duck. My favorite things to cook is anything Italian.
Italian food is food inspired from the soul, simple to make, delicious, nutritious and shared with family and friends with pride. Italian recipes are handed down from generations of great cooks from the mother country.
Disclaimer: When I say recipes handed down, I’m not talking about the traditional cook book, detailing ingredients and exact measurements.
KK: When did you learn to cook?
SR: I learned how to cook at a young age from my mom, who was the best cook in the world. I know we all say that about our moms, but in my case it’s true. She could produce a seven course meal without ever turning a page in a recipe book or having state-of-the-art kitchen appliances or gadgets.
It was a rite of passage in our family (daughters and sons) to learn how to make homemade pasta and tomato sauce. Emphasis on homemade. Heaven forbid an Italian is caught with store-bought sauce or worse have a can of Spaghettio’s in the cupboard. Open one of those babies and your FBI status (Full Bloodied Italian) would be taken away.
My mom taught me to cook using my senses; sight, touch, taste, smell, listen. The latter was ultra important in our household. Always, listen to mamma.
KK: Have you ever given your love of cooking to a character?
SR: With my published novels, both my heroines do not like to cook, not only do they not like it, they can’t be bothered learning. However, I did give the skill to the hero’s. So sexy to see a man in the kitchen. With my two works in progress, the heroines do love cooking as much as I do.
KK: What effect does your writing have on your cooking and vice-versa? Does one fall off when the other is stronger, or do they synergize?
SR: The same techniques I use in cooking I also apply when writing, adding a lot of love into my writing craft. Using all the senses: touch, taste, sight and smell, creating characters, dialogue and plots that will give the reader not only a visual experience of what’s happening, but hopefully they can taste what the characters are tasting, smell the scents of the scenery, close their eyes and hear the voices (not the ones in our heads, that’s another story), but the tone of the characters, and most importantly feel the passion I (and other writer’s) have put into creating a wonderful story to draw the reader into a comical, suspenseful, mysterious and romantic world.
KK: What do you dream of making when you have the time or skills?
SR: The perfect pie crust recipe. I cannot master a pie crust. I can make homemade bread, cakes, pastas, pizza, but that perfect pie crust still haunts me.
KK: Those of you who have been following the Saturday Showcase know that I include pictures of the authors’ art. Selena has taken that one step further and included a recipe that we can try ourselves! If you try it, we’d love to hear how you liked it in the Comments.
This recipe can be made and eaten the same day, but it tastes even better if you make it a day ahead of time and serve it the next day, as all the ingredients and goodness marinate together.
- olive oil
- 5 chopped tomatoes (or a can of plum tomatoes)
- 1 cup onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 6 cups beef broth (or vegetable stock)
- 1 can red kidney beans (drained and well rinsed)
- 1 can white kidney beans (drained and well rinsed)
- 1 can chick peas (drained and well rinsed)
- ½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
- **3 cups meatballs (use your favorite meatball recipe and make them tiny bite sized)
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Pasta (your choice: penne, elbow, tubetti)
**Note: If you don’t want to make meatballs, you can use ground beef, or skip the meat all together.
- Coat soup pot with olive oil and heat oil on medium. Once oil is heated, add onion and cook until onion is transparent, then add garlic and keep stirring until garlic is infused with the onion.
- Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
- Add broth and let cook (uncovered) for 45 minutes.
- Add red beans, white beans, chick peas, meatballs or sautéed ground beef if you are using meat, and let cook for 15 minutes
- In a separate pot, boil water and make pasta according to package directions
- While the pasta is cooking, add the chopped basil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste and let the soup keep cooking.
- Once pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the soup pot.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
Note: If making soup the day ahead, then don’t add any pasta, make the pasta the day you will be serving the soup.
Genre-defying, witty, humorous, suspenseful, romantic and sexy — words used to describe Selena’s novels. A self-professed foodie and chocolate guru, Selena loves to dance with her dog, sing into her hairbrush and write in her PJ’s. In love with her family, friends, books, laughter, hockey, lively discussions and red wine, (sometimes all at the same time). Selena is a dragon slayer who enjoys reading and writing sassy heroines and hot heroes (the ones your mamma warned you about, but secretly wished she’d dated a few in her life).