WHY IS IT CALLED BIG SIS LITTLE DISH?
This blog was started by my younger half-sister, Silvi, in July of 2010 as a way for us to share and store recipes and food stories. The idea was that it would be a way for us to continue to cook together even though we live on opposite ends of the continent.
WHO WRITES THIS BLOG?
My name is Erin K Orr. I spent my early childhood in Canada on the farms of my loving Irish and Estonian grandparents. I moved to Hawaii at age 9, when my young, free-spirited mother married my adventurous step dad who had sailed to Maui on his boat. I have now lived in New York City for about 20 years. I’m married to a Tennessee man with strong family connections to India. I have no formal training as a cook, but I have spent a ridiculous amount of my life thinking about and preparing food. I’m a professional puppeteer, storyteller, arts educator, food blogger and kitchen witch.
SO ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL CHEF?
Not full time. I have always had a hard time imagining working in a restaurant because I abhor food waste. However, I do make part of my living doing specialty cooking projects. For three years, my food and theater interests found a shared home as the chef and creator of an Eight Course Vegan Tasting Menu for the immersive excursion the Illuminati Ball. My passions for food and education come together in the Run a Luncheonette Camp that I’ve co-taught for five years with Brooklyn Apple Academy at the Sunview Luncheonette. Lately, I’ve been bringing witchery and food together to create symbolic dishes and food rituals that draw on folklore and set intentions for health and abundance. For example, I created a gluten-free Luscious Fertility Cake for Sxip and Coco’s Wedding (which worked by the way! I have a godson!), Love Spells in the Form of Tarts and Other Tasties and The Garden of Alchemy Dinner which featured four elementally inspired courses and spells.
WHAT ABOUT THE LITTLE SIS?
Silvi lives in Vancouver and is making artisanal chocolate, working on an organic farm,
studying to become an engineer, singing in an Estonian Choir and doing burlesque, working in the Vancouver film industry and creating music for her AMAZING experimental, gothic Estonian vocal quartet. She still posts very occasionally. I highly recommend her posts on how to make experimental economical vegetable stock, advice on how to improvise a stir fry and how to cook the wild plantain or myrtle berries that you might have growing in your yard.
I’ve decided that Big Sis little Dish is still good name for the blog, even though my little sister does not post so often anymore. I am still a big sister, and I still want to use this blog as a way honor food memories and create community through food with whoever wants to come to the table.
WHAT IS THE STORY WITH ALL THESE RECIPES?
Through writing this blog, I have discovered that I love to write about how the preparation and eating of food evokes memories, creates connection to place and builds community. On this blog you will find…
Many childhood food memories and family recipes…
- The guilty pleasures of Hawaii public school lunch (Pineapple Ham Pizza)
- The complications and gifts of being “raised by a village” (Oat Cookies That Embrace Complexity)
- The many magical qualities of my Estonian Grandma (In Search of Magical Estonian Apple Cake/ Rosolje/ Vegetable Soup with Goat Milk Broth and Dumplings)
- Tales of my dashing Irish Grandpa (How to make a Hot Toddy/ Buckwheat Pancakes)
- How my Maternal Grandmother taught me to love sour and bittersweet food and the smell of roses (Rhubarb Chutney/ Bittersweet Side Dish/ Fresh Nectarine Tart with a Buckwheat Crust and Rosewater Glaze)
- My personal culinary food hero, my Aunt Mona (The Best Ginger Cake/Bean Salad/ Classic Carrot Cake….really way too many recipes to list here)
- Culinary Adventures with my parents (My Mother’s Amazing Crab Dip/ Glamourous Key Lime Pie/ Tomato Cognac Soup)
Tales of eating in places far and near…
- Estonia (Fruit Fool in Tartu, Potato soup in Tallinn, Open faced sandwiches on Hiiumaa)
- Taiwan (Tea houses and Black Sesame and Lemon Tea Cake, Night Markets and Dumplings, Black Sesame Ginger Shortbread)
- Bulgaria (Ajvar)
- Spain (Salmorejo)
- Tennessee (Succotash)
- India (Sangeeta’s Butter Chicken)
- British Columbia (Salmon a la Ieva, Sockeye Salmon with Blackberries and Leeks, Dark Linzertorte with Blackberries, Blackberry, Apple, Plum Cobbler, Blackberry Ginger Gin Cocktail, Blackberry Beet Borscht, Blueberry Cocktail)
- On the road in the USA (Camper Honeymoon Cookery, Road Trip Peach Corn Salsa)
- Hawaii (Pohole Fern Salad, Maui Vegetable Slaw, Hawaii Style Sushi, Lemon Mochi Cake, Tropical Fruit and Macadamia Nut Torte)
- NYC farmshare (Garlic Scape White Bean Dip, Cashew Dill Lemon Dressing, Adaptable Fresh Fruit and Mascarpone Tart, strawberry Shortcake for Haters, Hakurei Turnip and Spring Onion Pakora)
Ideas for feeding large groups of friends and family…
- A picnic for 100 wedding guests
- An Indian Buffet for 80 wedding guests
- An Indian Buffet for 30 family members (who grew up in India)
- Feeding 45-75 hungry puppeteers on the cheap
- A Decadent Eight Course Vegan Tasting Menu
- Love Spells in the Form of Tarts and Tasties
- A Garden of Alchemy Dinner
WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO YOU MAKE?
I gave up gluten entirely in 2008 after 10 years of trying to find a way to work around the fact that wheat made me feel very ill. Baking had been my superpower, and it made me very angry to have to relearn how to do it without gluten. However, by the time we started the blog I was getting the hang of gluten-free baking and was happy to share what I had figured out with other people who were facing the same challenges that had. I usually include instructions for how to make the same dish with all-purpose wheat flour as well. Just because I can’t use my old baking recipes doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t! My sister has no trouble with gluten, so some of her recipes use wheat flour.
I am not a vegetarian or vegan myself, although many people who I love (including my sister) are. Given my own dietary restrictions I am very sympathetic to folks who have various allergies and sensitivities. I love to cook for others and the idea that anyone would be unable to eat my food makes me sad, so a lot of what I make these days is both gluten-free and vegan.
I am not a dieter and having been raised around hippies I am generally skeptical of health food. That said, it is hard to escape your upbringing and I do end up eating pretty healthy at the end of the day. I do not subscribe to any particular way of eating as being correct for everyone. I just write about the food that I enjoy and that makes me feel good. I hope that some of the recipes will be useful to others as well.
In general the food I make…
- focuses on seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- features lots of gluten-free baking using a wide variety of flours from grains, seeds, tubers and nuts.
- is pretty high in fat from nuts, butter, oil and duck fat when I can get it.
- is made from scratch and rarely uses any pre-prepared ingredients. This helps keep food costs down, and rarely takes as much time as people think. Also, as much as it does not suit my personality to be a picky eater, I have inherited a tender gut that does not respond well to industrial food-like mystery ingredients.
- occasionally uses odd or hard to find ingredients. I am curious by nature and live in a city where every weird ingredient can be had. I usually suggest substitutions.
- only rarely uses very expensive luxury ingredients, since I’m not particularly wealthy.
- Is often vegetarian or vegan because I like to feed EVERYONE.
- would include more recipes for meat and seafood, if I could afford to buy it more often. Being raised eating meat that my grandparents lovingly raised and butchered themselves I am picky about where I buy my meat from, and properly raised meat is expensive. I consider myself a very good meat cook though, so please do try the few recipes that I have posted!
- includes influences from diverse cuisines where my husband and I have lived, travelled or have family connections.
ARE YOUR RECIPES ORIGINAL?
Some of the recipes are original and some have been adapted from excellent cookbooks or food blogs. It is always tricky to determine the point at which a recipe is “yours”. I link to recipes that I used as a source material.
WHO TAKES THE PHOTOS?
Me, unless a different photographer is listed in the photo description. My sister also took some of the photos for her posts.
HOW ARE THESE RECIPES ORGANIZED?
Before starting this blog, my system for archiving the recipes that found or invented looked the picture below. Now there is a recipe index. You can also use the search feature in the upper right corner.