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About Heide

Hello. I’m Heide and I am overjoyed to be working with my beautiful daughter, Gabrielle, on The Fig Test Kitchen.

Food has always been a focal point in my life – my husband half-seriously says it’s the reason he married me – but it has taken me a long time to realize that teaching others to cook is what I love most to do most. I used to be a journalist and I was pretty good at getting the scoop, but the grind of the deadline was hard and often lonely. Food is different: I love the texture, the smells, the passion, the chemistry and the creativity food offers. I really love making the rounds to the half-dozen specialty food stores and even the big box warehouses every week to find the freshest and best ingredients. So after many years of just cooking from friends and family, I opened The Fig Cooking School here in central Connecticut to share 25 years worth of experience.

My love for great food and cooking came from my Eastern European parents and their families. We never had a lot of money, there was always something simmering, baking or frying in the kitchen. My German mother regularly prepared favorites such as zwetschgenknoedel (plum dumplings), and we begged her to make our favorite peasant dishes like vogelfutter (translated as bird feed, vogelfutter is really a concoction of sour cream, paprika, ground beef and potatoes) or polenta. Many of my fondest childhood memories center around food – sneaking the crispy fat from the turkey as my grandmother carved, baking at the age of 12 a three-tiered genoise cake for my grandfather’s 70th birthday in the shape of the wide-rimmed hat he used to wear when in the garden, and cooking a formal French dinner for my high school sophomore friends are just some of the warm memories from those early years.

As I think about it, food also plays a pivotal role in most of my favorite adult memories too, like the first time I made a picnic lunch for then boyfriend, now husband Mark, not knowing he hated chicken (I converted him!), serving him bagels with Bon Maman French jam (he was so impressed!), or the great care I took picking out our wedding cake (each tier a different flavor, carrot, walnut and chocolate), only to find out that the baker ruined the outside of the cake by decorating it with bright green and plastic swans. After we married in 1987, it was very common for us to plan entire trips around food, and we would think nothing of doing crazy things like taking a 200 mile detour from Austria to the Black forest in Germany for a meal of trout with wild fruits and venison with spaetzle and cream. That is still true today, as you will see from our travel adventures that span from Paris and Tehran to Nashville.

The list of great food moments is endless, but the point is that on any given day, we, along with our daughters, Gabrielle (19), Isabella (14) and Francesca (6) try to make everyday filled with great food. We don’t wait for a special occasion to have duck with crispy shallots and creamed cauliflower for dinner. Like when I was growing up, the food we eat is never processed; it is always real and made with love. It is the same philosophy we have at The Fig Cooking School. While the training I received at the French Culinary Institute was wonderful and inspiring,  you don’t have to be a chef to make memorable gourmet food. Please join me us on this journey as I share with you our family’s often quirky and creative food, travel and cooking experiences.

Better Together

Some things are just a perfect match: Christmas and cookies, French fries and aioli, Paris and hot chocolate. Finding perfect combinations of things is what makes life, and cooking, so fun.

Our favorite combination isn’t technically food related at all. Mothers and their daughters have been cooking together for countless generations. I’m Heide Lang, owner and founder of The Fig Cooking School. And I’m Gabrielle Siegel, high school senior and her 17-year-old daughter. Welcome to the Fig Test Kitchen.

Years ago mothers and daughters found themselves in the kitchen by necessity, but today we cook to bond and pass on family traditions. Together we cook modern creations, like chocolate and dried fruit in philo pockets, homey favorites, like chocolate chip cookies, and traditional recipes, like Oma’s Nokerln, brought over from Eastern Europe. This blog celebrates both the tradition of families cooking together, and the creativity and innovation that should be found in every kitchen. Our motto at the cooking school is “Find your Inner Gourmet” because we know that everyone has the potential to be a great cook with the right guidance and a good recipe.

In the months and years to follow, we will bring you many posts. Some, like this, will be written as a team, others solo. We will share with you our favorite recipes, ideas for improvisation, food shopping tips, and even tasty travel tidbits from the Middle East to the Deep South to our native New England. We also plan to share with you our journey as we teach Isabella (13) how to cook, and even, Francesca (4), the youngest member of our family.

Before we sign off, we’d like to share one last perfect combination with you, inspired by Liuzzi’s, one of our favorite specialty food stores. It’s a great blend of sweet and savory and is ideal as an hors d’oeuvre or even as a sandwich.

Dolce Gorgonzola (sweeter and creamier than regular gorgonzola)

Fig Jam

Baguette

Cut the baguette into ½-inch thick rounds. Spread a layer of gorgonzola, and then a fairly thin layer of jam.

So simple, so delicious.

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