Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Camden
Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been married almost 30 years. We have 2 wonderful children who are in college now. My son is in his senior year studying engineering and my daughter is a freshman studying theater production. Since they have left for school, I now have a dog, 3 cats and a guinea pig. My husband works in business and has pursued wine certifications as a hobby.
How did you get involved in the culinary world?
I have always cooked. When I was a child my father, who was an attorney, did the cooking – my teacher mother has no interest and still finds scrambling eggs challenging. My father loves to cook and always was making all types of dishes from all over the world. Both my sister and I were his sous chefs. My father was well known for his cooking, but my sister and I were thrilled to go to friends’ homes and to eat “normal” food – I still love meatloaf and realize how approachable food must be. I also learned the beauty of comfort food. My father taught me to try different techniques and not to be afraid to try something new. The meal could be a disaster but most of the time it turned out surprisingly good. I think I’m a creative person and since I can’t paint or sing I can express my creativity through food.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My husband and I travel a lot and food is at the center of our experience. We love going to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores. I also enjoy doing the same thing at home. I guess I’m a little obsessed. I love to go to a restaurant and figure out the techniques and ingredients and then make it at home after I’ve gone all over town finding ingredients. Once I have mastered the techniques on my family, I moved on to our friends and my husband and I frequently host charity dinners where I prepare a meal and he is the “wine dude.”
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
I found Cooking Matters through Volunteer Match. I wanted to contribute something to the community and Cooking Matters allows me to share what I love doing.
Do you have a highlight of a CM class that you’d like to share?
I don’t have a single highlight. I have numerous highlights. Every class I have been involved with I have seen “light bulb moments.” I love the look on someone’s face when they realize they can do it or they like a new vegetable, herb or spice. I love when the participants come into class and tell about how they made a recipe for their family or how they put their own spin on the dish. I think the best part of being involved with Cooking Matters is it is rewarding for everyone – volunteers and participants.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large can of whole tomatoes
1 can of canned tuna – drained (packed in water preferably)
¼ C chopped green olives
½ box whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
Optional: minced Italian Parsley and Parmesan cheese
Heat large skillet on medium heat. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil and sauté onion until lightly browned. When onion is almost done add garlic and pepper flakes. Pour liquid from tomatoes from the can into skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Take the whole tomatoes and crush in your hand into the skillet – looking for small chunks of tomato. Add the drained tuna and olives and mix into sauce and simmer while you make pasta.
When pasta is cooked, drain it and mix into sauce. Serve top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese (although Italians don’t generally service cheese with fish/seafood)
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