Friday, October 6, 2017

Fridays Feasting with Friends Featuring Erin Fabian

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Erin Fabian

Today's guest is a truly special person in my life, and one I am very excited about sharing with all of you.  Erin Fabian is a dear friend, fellow educator with Babywearing International of Cleveland and easily one of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever, ever met.  Has there ever been a time when you've met a person in life and you just know they were put into yours for a specific reason- that is my sweet Erin. What started as a mutual love for teaching others about Babywearing, has grown into a friendship built on faith and fellowship. When I think of Erin my mind wanders to Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." She is my wonderfully levelheaded friend, my confidant and go-to when I need support and honest advice.  She makes me feel stronger when I am near her and helps me to see things more clearly. Plus she is just so darn fun! What a treasure to have in a friend! So without further ado, I give you Erin. 

What is your occupation?
I am a pharmacist by training but I work for a medical publishing company. I write information for health care professionals on poisonings and overdoses and the use of medications in pregnancy and lactation. So, if you overdose on something, the ER doctor might look up what to do for you in the stuff I write. Or, if you want to take a medicine while pregnant, the doctor or pharmacist may look in the information I write to decide what to tell you.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
I prefer to bake. But, in general, I like to cook meals that are a part of family traditions or are a part of a meaningful celebration.

If I had to pick a “favorite”—it would be Potica. Potica is a Slovenian nut roll that my grandma taught my father, sister, and I to bake before she passed away in 2014. Her husband’s family owned a bakery on the east side of Cleveland and she had learned how to make potica as a young wife from her mother in law. She would always scoff that various bakeries would put breadcrumbs in their nut rolls which is why they didn’t taste as good as hers. Any time she would taste another person’s potica, there would be a comment about the thickness of the dough, the presence or absence of raisins, and just a general sense of disapproval. She had her ways and they were the best.

Potica was her signature dessert and it was a big deal that she even let us know how to make it. We spent YEARS fighting tooth and nail to get her to tell us all of the ingredients. Slowly but surely, she began to fill in the blanks of the frustratingly empty handwritten recipe card that she kept in her recipe box (WHY do handwritten recipes NEVER include all the ingredients or instructions?!). She was always so smug sitting in the corner supervising our efforts—smirking when we would trip up. The Christmas after she passed away, my dad, sister, and I decided to keep our Christmas tradition of baking potica alive and we struggled to get it just right that year. The following Christmas, our world would be rocked.

Erin's sister Nickele and their grandmother making Potica

In preparation for “The Baking of the Potica 2015”, my mother headed to the grocery store to gather the necessary ingredients. A sucker for interesting packaging, she decided to go with a different type of flour. The package had caught her eye because it looked “old fashioned”. She went with it. To her surprise, when she unpacked the groceries at home, she spied something eerily familiar on the back of the flour bag. A recipe for nut roll. That was exact, word for word, my grandmother’s recipe card. Annoying omissions and all. What. The. Hell.

As it turns out, the flour company was an old Cleveland institution back in the early 1900’s—just when my grandfather’s family ran their bakery. We have done some investigating but we cannot determine which came first, the family potica recipe or the flour company recipe. We may never know.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Anything that requires too many dishes or gadgets. I have only recently began living in a house with a dishwasher and I still just cannot get used to using it. I still like to hand wash dishes as I cook and too many dishes make me bananas. Speaking of bananas, my husband and father in law love my banana cream pie and it requires the use of a lot of dishes. So that’s my answer. I don’t like making banana cream pie.

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
Favorite: That’s hard. I have specific favorite things from a bunch of different places. I love the french toast from L’Albatros. I love the affogato from Crop Bistro (no longer on the menu…boo). I love s’mores ice cream from Mitchell’s. I love hummus and milk shakes from Tommy’s. I love the way my kids eat anything they get at Yours Truly and don't complain while they are there.

Dying to try out: The Farmer, The Butcher, The Chef in Austinburg, OH

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Likely I would have a theme to said party—so some sort of theme music.

If it is friends hanging out, probably something chill. Iron and Wine, The Wood Brothers, The Devil Makes Three, The Band, Mandolin Orange, Mipso, Trampled by Turtles, The Avett Brothers.

If it is a gaggle of toddlers and preschoolers and frazzled moms (most likely): Caspar Babypants

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Apple crisp with vanilla bean ice cream

What are you currently reading?
Discovering the Enneagram by Richard Rohr

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
Tie between a stand mixer and the InstantPot

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
My family would say chicken paprikas

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
The fact that we have four distinct seasons, the lake and the various things that come with it (sailing, swimming, sunsets), awesome rivers for paddling, great biking, a thriving wine region, countless destinations for family vacations within a reasonable driving distance. The fact that our cost of living is low. The growing optimism that is palpable downtown. Our museums. The orchestra. The theater.

Seriously, aren't her daughters just the cutest?!

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?

My mom rarely made the same thing more than once—but she did routinely make a certain tortellini sausage soup. And yes, I still make that. My grandma made many of our meals when I was a kid. One of my favorites was Hawaiian Bread French Toast on Thursday mornings. I tend to make french toast with challah bread instead. But I will break out the sweet bread if I am feeling nostalgic.

Top 3 Movies of all time?
Zero idea. I am not much of a movie enthusiast. I’ll go with movies I have probably seen the most in my life: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Goonies, and Beauty and the Beast. As you can tell, I haven’t watched many movies as a grown up apparently.

What was your happiest moment in life?
Falling in love with my husband and the birth of my kids (separate moments—I loved my husband before my kids were born)

Erin and her husband Jayson

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Costco and Giant Eagle mostly (but would shop at Wegman’s hands down if we had one closer to us!)
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
These dark russet potato chips that are like a whole bag of burnt potato chips. LOVE.

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Get our chest freezer moved back into our house (we recently underwent a giant renovation and not everything has been moved back) and start back on freezer meals for weeknights.

One word that best describes you is:
Eclipse 2017 anyone?!

And now for your favorite recipe:

Chicken Paprikas
Serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp bacon grease
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
4-5 lbs chicken thighs
1 ½ cups water
½ pint sour cream
3 tbsp bacon grease
Enough flour to make a roux

In a large dutch oven or similar pot, brown onion in 2 tbsp bacon grease; add seasonings and brown until fragrant. Add chicken. Brown for 10 minutes. Add water; cover and let simmer slowly until tender (2 hours).

Remove chicken from the liquid, discarding skin, bones, and knuckles. Set meat aside.

In a medium pan, melt 3 tbsp bacon grease. Add flour and whisk to make a roux. Slowly add liquid from the chicken pot to the roux until well mixed. Add all back to the chicken pot. Add sour cream to the pot and mix well.

Return the chicken to the pot.

Add galuska (see recipe below), if desired
Heat through and serve
For more gravy, add ½ pint sweet cream to sour cream

Serves 4-6 people

3 eggs, beaten
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup water


Mix all ingredients together and beat with a spoon
Drop batter by teaspoonful into boiling salted water.
Cook about 10 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water
Drain well and add to paprikas or serve on the side.

***Recipes adapted from my grandmother and the ladies of the Hungarian Reformed Church - Fairport Harbor, OH***

making silly faces with her daughter

1 comment:

  1. Awwww . . . . Great interview! Made me tear up a little. All stages and aspects of Erin's life have been a joy in which to have been a par. She's a great person, mom, daughter, cook . . . level-headed? I have some stories to share��!! I am proud to be her mom and friend.����

    P.S. Her dad was afraid she was going to give away the potica recipe!!!



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