“Most of us have fond memories of food from our childhood. Whether it was our mom’s homemade lasagna or a memorable chocolate birthday cake, food has a way of transporting us back to the past.”-Homaro Cantu
Have you ever walked into someone’s house and knew instantly that it was a home? If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is something in the atmosphere that invites you in and beckons you to curl up with a cup of something hot and stay awhile.
That was my home growing up. My parent’s did an incredible job of creating a place where strangers felt like family, and the conversations lasted long after the mini cheesecakes ran out. My mama was and still is the greatest hostess. Not a drink would go unfilled or smile unreturned. From Christmas parties to graduation celebrations, to third grade birthday parties, everything was perfection. It wasn’t just parties though. It was after school snacks or Saturday morning breakfasts; there was never a time when a kiss on the cheek and a chocolate chip cookie wouldn’t fix a crumbling world.
As I grew, I think that’s what so attracted me to the kitchen. It was a place I could bring my problems and cares of the day and throw it all into a meringue or brighten someone else’s day by making blueberry muffins. They were little gestures that made a whole lot of difference. I saw the world change all from a spot at the stovetop.
When we were first considering producing a cooking series, I was excited, but I also knew I couldn’t lose the fundamental reason I fell in love with food: people. What I learned over the years is that food draws you in, but if the company is bad you’ll eat and run. Jeni: Hometown Harvest is a wonderful combination of my favorite foods and people that have been with me through the ups and downs of life. All the food we serve up is all food I grew up eating and eventually started making myself. What makes it even more special is that all food I make is also what I’ve shared countless times with friends and family. The new faces you see are some of my most favourite faces on the planet, and I can’t wait for you to meet them. It’s a winning combination, I can promise you that!
I think that’s what I loved about filming this series, is it was the first time I was able to fully open up my home to everyone and really show you me. The jumping off cliffs, the snorkeling, the uncontrollable laughing and making ridiculous jokes…all me. But the person you see in the kitchen in this series is very much me too. You won’t see much jumping or falling or sea creatures, but you’ll see a girl in her happy place and plenty of laughable moments. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s home. I hope you enjoy watching and try the recipes!
Sadly, not all my favorite foods could make it on screen, so as an added treat, I’m giving you a bonus recipe that didn’t make it into the show. It’s called Palačinke (pronounced Palachenka). Think of a crepe but so much better. It’s a family recipe from Croatia, or modern day Serbia, where my great grandparents came from. It’s thin, slightly sweet, super easy to make, and gives you a major arm workout. What could be better than that?
All you’ll need is:
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 T sugar
- Milk…and lots of it!
- For toppings: cinnamon sugar mixture or favorite jam
- Get a medium to large sized mixing bowl and large spoon, and add your flour, egg, salt and sugar. Stir together until blended. Batter should be thick and difficult to stir.
- Slowly add milk, stirring as you go. Batter will still be thick, but stir until there is a smooth consistency. Beat out the chunks as you add the milk. You don’t want to add too much milk too fast without really beating out the chunks.
- Keep stirring and pouring in your milk until it becomes completely smooth. I’d say you use one to two cups of milk, but this is one of those “go with your gut.” The true test is will it move easily around a pan without being too runny. Sometimes it’s trail and error. If it’s too thick, just add more milk. If it’s too thin, add a smidge of flour to thicken it.
- Once you have your batter smooth and creamy, get a large pan, and heat it up on medium-medium high. You want to get it nice and hot, and as it’s warming add an oil (not a nut oil). Pour about 1/4- 1/3 cup of your batter in the pan, and move it around until it covers the whole pan. Give it 30 seconds on each side. You want it to get a nice golden-brown colour. It will get probably get spots on one side. Totally normal.
- Put your Palačinke on a plate, and sprinkle with your favorite topping. Once your topping is on, roll your Palačinke up. The only thing left to do is eat!