Seattle-based Molly Wizenberg has been weaving food into stories and stories around food since 2004. Orangette is “often autobiographical and always gastronomical,” and like the chocolate-dipped strips of the title, the Chicago Tribune calls her kitchen tales “downright addictive.” Her fans will get even more when her first book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, is released in March 2009. Congrats, Molly! You’re not just an author – you’re one of the elite Tell Simmer few who have actually been served breakfast in bed.
How often do you think about eating?
All the time. I wake up thinking about breakfast, and I usually go to bed thinking about the next day’s meals.
I like coffee quite a bit, but I don’t drink it much. It makes me feel really thirsty, and it leaves my mouth feeling weird and leathery. I went through a straight edge phase in high school and decided to give up caffeine, and I’ve never really gone back to it. I think that killed any coffee craving I might have had. But I do love coffee ice cream. Does that count?
Favorite hometown food?
I’m from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, squarely in the middle of cattle country, so I would have to choose my father’s hamburgers. He passed away in 2002, so I’m not sure if his burgers still count, but they were so good that it wouldn’t be fair to leave them out. He used to buy the meat at a small, old-fashioned place called Crescent Market, and he would shape it into thick patties and grill them nice and rare. SO GOOD.
And second to that – albeit a distant second – are the chocolate chip cookies from Big Sky Baking Company. It’s a franchise, I think, so it’s not exactly pure Oklahoma fare, but the cookies are fantastic – really nubbly with oats and brown sugar. I always have to have one (or two) when I go home.
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
Just once, when my husband and I were dating. He was living in New York, and I was living in Seattle, and I had gone to visit him. One morning, while I was still half-asleep, he sneaked out to the kitchen and came back with juice and toast and some French butter. (The butter belonged to one of his roommates, but I don’t think she noticed that we stole some. SHHH.) We sat in bed and ate together, and I don’t think it gets much better than that.
Your absolutely reliable, go-to dish for entertaining is:
My husband is a vegetarian, and I used to be one too, so we tend to eat vegetarian most of the time at home. When we’re having friends over, I often make a gruyere souffle – I love to make souffles – or we’ll throw together a pasta of some sort: maybe spaghetti with zucchini and homemade pesto or Rigatoni with Five Lilies.
Food that makes you gag?
Oysters. I tried one as a little kid, and it freaked me out. I want so badly to try them again – and to like them – but I just can’t do it. Yet.
Worst kitchen disaster:
Oh my. There have been quite a few. One of the most memorable was a few months ago, one night when I was home alone and making a pork loin from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. The recipe was very specific about how to sear it before baking, and I read carefully and obeyed, but our stove runs incredibly hot, and before I knew it, I had charred the crap out of the thing. I tried to salvage it and bake it anyway, but the meat thermometer wasn’t working properly, and I undercooked it, and I just couldn’t deal with trying to make it work. So I cried a little, and then I threw it away.
Three things in your refrigerator right now:
Fresh mozzarella, beer, leftover curried couscous.
Your idea of a romantic meal is:
The dinner my husband and I had on the night we got engaged. We were in New York, and we took the subway out to Brooklyn to have pizza at Di Fara. While I waited for the pizza, he ran next door and bought beers at the convenience store, and then we sat at a table in the back of the shop and feasted. On the subway ride back into Manhattan, we ate some chocolate truffles that I’d bought earlier in the day. That was pretty much heaven.
Secret snack of shame?
Gummy candies! I LOVE GUMMY CANDIES! Especially the “gummy fruit salad” in the bulk bin at my usual grocery store.
Most ambitious effort in the kitchen:
My annual Christmas baking. I usually make about six or eight different cookies and candies and package them up in metal tins for our friends and family. It takes weeks. And I love it.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying:
Pretty much anywhere in Paris.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
A gin and tonic, with lots of lime and ice cubes made from tonic water.
Extra Credit: Where is the world’s best pizza?
That’s a tie. Either Di Fara in Brooklyn or my husband’s pizza, made in a friend’s wood-fired oven.