Culinary Q & A with Valerie Rodgers Lugonja

Occupation: Professional Educator (BEd) in my 30th year of teaching with Edmonton Public Schools. I am an Early Childhood Specialist (ECE Diploma), with two other “majors”, or specializations: English Literature, and Fine Art (drawing) I am currently teaching Foods, or cooking to about 200 grade 7-9 students every 2 days, for the second year. It was an invitation I could not refuse after watching my students come to school at 7 am eating chips and drinking Coke.

What did you eat today?

Baby Bocconcini (from the Italian Centre Shop South) with Olive Oil and black salt. It’s Saturday. I’ve been running, and I haven’t had dinner yet, which will probably be soup. Homemade in my Thermomix, of course 🙂 I tend to eat a lot of soup and yogurt.

What do you never eat?

Fried liver. I love liver pate, but not fried liver. I have thought about the latest “taste” sensation in our Edmonton Blogging Community (EatingistheHardPart and TheBruleeBlog): balut. I am drawn to this delicacy as I am so intensely interested in cultural foods. Maybe one day.

What is your personal specialty?

Vanja says “improvising”. Really, I haven’t a clue. I am always trying new things. I think appetizers and desserts. That first bite is so important, and I love that. And, the finale – well, what is a meal without something luscious? And, a little bite of chocolate?

Complete this sentence: In my refrigerator, you will always find:

half eaten jars of homemade canned goods, homemade yogurt, Gull Valley tomatoes (unless they are on holiday), Sunworks Farm fresh eggs, red peppers, onions, garlic, charcuterie and cheeses from the ICS south, whipping cream, and a jug of orange juice with pulp.

What is your weekday meal standby?

I cook a completely different meal every night for Vanja than I eat myself. A typical standby for him is pasta. I will fry onions, peppers, sausage (casing removed) or ground meat of some sort, add herbs, mushrooms if I have them, lots of fresh chopped garlic, tomato paste and canned diced tomatoes and leave it to simmer on the back of the stove until he gets home. I put on the penne 15 minutes before I expect him home, and that is it.

What is your favourite kitchen item?

My Thermomix. I never thought it would change my life as it has. It has enabled me to accomplish so much more with so much less effort! After that, my wooden cutting boards and my sharp knives.

I am more into tasting and cooking part except when it comes to chocolate and ice cream! I would love a professional kitchen staffed with really capable sous chefs, and I would have a ball working with them and learning from them to create something from whatever is in the pantry!

Where do you eat out most frequently?

We like change and usually eat out every Friday, or every other Friday, at a different place. I prefer the small independent restaurants in our city: love Zenari’s for lunch, and Duchess Bake Shop for coffee and a treat!

What’s the best place to eat in Edmonton?

I guess I would have to say my mom’s! I cannot get enough of her meatloaf!

If you weren’t limited by geography, where and what would you eat?

I would eat at a large rustic table with my family, extended family, and friends out in the Alberta countryside sans wind, rain and mosquitoes. A home-cooked potluck meal where everyone has contributed their personal specialty. And, beside the Atlantic Ocean, near Cape Cod, eating shell fish would be a strong second.

Valerie blogs at A Canadian Foodie.

5 thoughts on “Culinary Q & A with Valerie Rodgers Lugonja

  1. I was expecting to find my plans for the week here, tooday! :), but instead found this! Thanks again for the opportunity, Sharon. And, will you please correct my typo (again): English Literature, ad Fine Art
    Enjoy your week! Valerie

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Ok I promise after this one I will stop spamming your email box with my comments (for tonight ;-)).

    Hi Valerie,

    I love that you said Vanja thinks your specialty is improvising lol! I really can see it Valerie. I don’t think your mind ever stops thinking of food (I mean that in the best way possible). Your curiosity and drive to learn about different cultural foods really is a gift. It allows you to experience all that the less adventurous such as myself is missing. Best place to eat in Edmonton? Mom’s. Great great answer!

    I can imagine your pantry being a world supermarket all in one house 😀 Great Q and A Valerie!

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