In the kitchen with Maureen Sawasy

Welcome to the season of over-indulgence. For those of us who like get creative in the kitchen, we will likely be spending more time there in the coming month. Maureen Sawasy is one of these Bowen Islanders. When she’s not being an administrative whiz at Island Pacific School or stage managing one of the local theatre productions, she can be found working away in her kitchen either to make pies and treats for her business, Moe Makes or food to share with family and friends.

She let The Undercurrent in to her kitchen for a chat, but didn’t give away any secrets. 

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What’s your favourite kitchen utensil? (of all time, or maybe of the moment)  

My food processor is probably my all-time favourite because of it’s versatility. I also use it to make my pastry for pies which is a huge time saver when making 40 pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.

My favourite utensil of the moment is definitely my nutri-bullet. I use it to make everything from green smoothies and vegan pureed soups to my Saturday morning breakfast of a puffed apple pancake, which is sometimes called Dutch baby pancake. Sooooo good!

 

What’s your comfort food? 

Really anything savoury. I love a good roast chicken with mashed potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, true home cooking. I also love cheese and have this horrible guilty pleasure of using cream cheese as a dip for potato chips! Either flavoured cream cheese and plain chips or flavoured chips and plain cream cheese. It doesn’t matter, just the idea of fried potatoes and cheese….mmmmm…

 

If you could only have one cook book…

Mark Bittman’s “How to bake Everything”. Maybe a baker shouldn’t admit to wanting that book but I have a copy of his “How to Cook Everything” and it is so useful. He really is a valuable source in the culinary world. He has a recipe for everything and often two or three! He’ll have an ‘easy’ recipe then something more complex. I love using him as resource for when I want to be adventurous and have the time or for when I have a ½ hour to cook everything.

 

Who’s your biggest culinary influence, and what did they teach you? 

Definitely my Mom. Sounds hokey but it’s true! My Mom is a great cook and like her mother, always seemed to do it effortlessly in my eyes. Both my Mother and my Grandmother taught me to make pastry and the difference between dough for bread and the dough for pastry. As a kid I was fascinated by my Grandma in the kitchen and how she would whip up breakfast for 20, then lunch then dinner and it was all delicious! My Mother was the one that ‘found’ the chocolate chip cookie recipe almost 40 years ago that I still use today.

 

When did you realize you loved to cook? 

When the aforementioned chocolate chip cookie recipe became the hit of the neighbourhood and my elementary school. I remember kids at school coming up to me and asking when my Mom was going to make cookies again. A lot of my school mates didn’t have Mom’s that baked, so home made cookies were hugely sought after. I soon startedmaking them with my Mom then on my own to keep my classmates happy. I think in some ways it sounds like a way to win over friends but ultimately it just made me happy to see them happy! 

I love having customers come up to me or post on my FB page about how much they loved their MoeMakes treat or how their guests raved about the dessert. I like that people are just happy eating what I bake!

 

Tell me about a culinary challenge, and how you overcame it.  

Vegan has been challenging. The secret to my baking is really the butter. I use it in everything including pies! So searching for ideas and recipes was a challenge. My Mom found this old Betty Crocker recipe for a ‘snack cake’. She sent it to me telling me that she had made it for Dad and her and they loved it. It was very simple but instead of butter had vegetable oil. Yuck. So I swapped it out for melted coconut oil and it has since become a hit of the summer markets!

 

How has living on Bowen influenced your cooking? 

Living on Bowen has forced me to explore the vegan option. There a lot of gluten free folk as well and I have done some experiementing but my baking is truly traditional home baking so using wheat flour substitutes has not yet become part of my repertoire. Although the marshmallows I make are gluten free!

MoeMakes will be at the Legion Christmas Market on Sunday Nov 26, from 11 -3pm.

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