Dec 22nd, 2008 by Marilyn
As senior food editor at Midwest Living magazine – Meredith Corporation’s popular regional glossy – Diana McMillen literally spends her days living and breathing food, and with a near 1-million circulation, there’s no time for blogging. She’s spent the past 20 years overseeing every bite of the magazine’s food content, which also means she’s tasted every published recipe. Now…if I did all that tasting, I’d be napping by three – but Diana, clearly destined for the multi-tasking hall of fame, also writes and edits copy, supervises photos and plans stories. Diana likes to do things like, say, set up a food photo shoot on the shores of Lake Superior – working from the trunk of a car. A seriously creative and capable pro, she certainly knows her way around a cinnamon roll, a pork loin, or a pie. Today – we learn about her thing for warm cookies.
How often do you think about eating?
Food is my job, so I think about eating all the time. I think in terms of what my readers would want and what they might enjoy cooking and eating. And at the end of the day, almost every day, the realization hits me: What am I going to have for dinner?
I love good coffee. Several years ago, a friend of mine and I searched the internet for new coffees to try. We took turns ordering once a month and splitting the coffee to brew at home. My favorite was Deadman’s Reach coffee from Raven’s Brew Coffee out of Alaska. It’s a wonderful dark roast with a bonus of creative illustrations.
Favorite hometown food?
We have great pork here in Iowa, so I guess a grilled Iowa chop is probably my favorite hometown food. It’s fat and juicy and always too much.
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
My children served me my first breakfast in bed when they were younger. It was the basic toast and cereal, and I was suitably impressed. That doesn’t happen anymore. Instead, they want me to make them breakfast.
Your absolutely reliable, go-to dish for entertaining is:
I have a dish that’s angel hair pasta, whipping cream, lemon peel and shredded Parmesan. It’s so easy and goes well with any kind of meat/fish/poultry.
Food that makes you gag?
In my business, I’m expected to eat about anything without so much as a blink of the eye. I have to work hard to not blink when eating plain chicken livers. Not my favorite.
Worst kitchen disaster:
My husband and I were having friends for dinner and I was pulling the heavy chocolate cheesecake from the oven when a thin potholder didn’t do the job. The pain of the heat caused me to drop the cheesecake. The dessert totally fell apart and, worst of all, dented my springform pan. I served spur-of-the-moment hot fudge sundaes instead and I told our dinner guests what they might have eaten for dessert. They insisted on trying the cheesecake, and so I served a second dessert as well: bowls of cheesecake pieces with dollops of whipped cream.
Three things in your refrigerator right now:
Six kinds of barbecue sauce, a bag of Clementine oranges and a leftover cheeseball.
Your idea of a romantic meal is:
I like any restaurant with good food and a view. I especially love the weather extremes, such as cold winter nights with a fireplace blazing in the room and a candlelit table looking out on a snowy landscape.
Secret snack of shame?
Eating more warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies than I should. I guess I could say eating warm-from-the-oven any kind of cookies is my secret shame. They’re too irresistible.
Most ambitious thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen:
I boned a whole chicken, then stuffed it. It was an engineering feat. After it was roasted, it was so easy to carve.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying:
There are so many noteworthy restaurants that would fit this category. The one that comes to mind is Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. I’ve never dined there and would love to try Charlie’s food.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
Extra Credit: Where is the world’s best pizza?
In my Midwest world, it would have to be Chicago’s deep-dish pizza.
ed: oh, how I love a right answer.