Name: Rory C. Gawler
Job: Assistant Director, Dartmouth Outdoor Programs
Single or Taken: Single
Kids: none so far
Q: Is it hard being a hotshot?
A: It’s a lot of pressure. Once you fire out Lamb Curry for 15 in just under 2 hours once, the expectation is that you can do it any time. You end up doing a lot of prep work to make sure you can seem like a hotshot all the time. I have 4 chest freezers, several pallets of dry goods from the Co-op’s caselot sale and innumerable small appliances and heavy duty cookware items to make it all seem effortless.
Q: How did you become such a hotshot, anyway?
A: Necessity and convenience. Having housemates and guests over for dinner all the time means someone has to put food on the table. Everyone’s busy and eventually I just had to the most practice whipping out gourmet dinner for a dozen. Convenience comes down to my own feeling that I’d rather host than travel. I know for some folks, hosting is stressful, but since I’m well set-up, I’d really rather have folks over than go out.
Q: Favorite hotshot recipe (prepared with locally grown food, naturally!):
A: Given the choice, I would eat nothing but curry and here’s why: It includes all of the things that we like to eat: veggies, meat, starch and spices. It’s easy, makes few cooking-related dirty dishes, and is highly nutritious and healthy. It also makes great leftovers. It can be made with vegetables that are marginal and no one notices.
1) Make rice. Use the rice cooker. It’s easier. Basically just under 2:1 ratio of water to rice. The more rice you use, the less water. If you do brown rice, use a little more water, but if you press the brown rice button, recognize that it will take 2-3 hours before it’s done. Brown rice seems to cook just fine on the white rice setting.
2) Sautee vegetables. Hard ones early, soft ones later. Bell peppers are favoured, but anything will do.
3) Combine in bowl: coconut milk, thai curry paste (red and green are
my favs), salt.
4) Mix bowl into pan. Heat.
5) Put on rice.
Q: Best hotshot recipe when you need to impress someone:
A: When I want to impress, I usually go to my chest freezer for some Sweetland Farm porkchops or Clay Hill Beef. Salt the heck out of it and grill. Accompanied with a pilaf of brown rice, wild rice, soft wheat berries and other neat grains made in chicken stock, maybe with some sautéed mushrooms and celery added later. Obviously butter too. Side of salad, or seasonal veg.
I also make literally the best pancakes you’ve ever had.
Also, if you’re not making your own salad dressing, then you haven’t even begun to hotshot. Experiment, but couple notes:
- Mustard, powdered or from a jar, is a natural emulsifier
- If you then use your handy-dandy stick blender to mix, it will stay emulsified for quite a while.
- Put a little glob of hellman’s mayo in there. Delish.
Q: Favorite person to cook for:
A: Can’t pick one, but I love having my friends who’ve all moved out of the area come to visit, and I like to thank them for travelling to see me, so always happy to treat to a nice dinner. Also, my mom’s generally pretty appreciative.
Q: The hotshot’s most important kitchen gear:
- Rice cooker
- Immersion blender
- Giant cutting board, handmade from cherry, walnut and maple scraps from my woodshop
- Wide-mouth mason jar for drinking out of. Hydration is very important.
Q: Name 5 things in your kitchen, without which you cannot live.
- Gas range, as high powered as possible.
- Cast iron skillet
- Sharp Knives
- Quality ingredients
- Your brain
Q: If you were a locally grown food, what would you be and why?
A: Huge fan of the Beet. Grows anywhere, super nutritious, delicious, you can eat the whole plant and it turns your whole insides red. What more could you ask?
Q: Best websites or blogs for new hotshot ideas?
A: No idea. If I need help, I use the Joy of Cooking. Reading Michael Pollan was also a major source of inspiration.
Q: Where do you buy the locally grown food for your hotshot recipes?
A: Sweetland Farm in Norwich is my source for meats and veggies in season. The pork and lamb from here is out of this world. I can never go back to factory farmed meats. Off season, I do all my shopping at the Co-op Food Stores. When I can get a gallon of Co-op branded McNamara whole milk for the same price as a gallon of Hood, I don’t see why I should shop anywhere else. It’s substantially, noticeably more delicious.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring hotshots?
A: Think ab
out what you like to eat, and make that. Pick a project – for a while, I was experimenting with hashbrowns until I discovered that grating in some parsnips made them caramelize beautifully. So Good! Also, neither fat nor salt is bad for you anymore. Use it!
Q: Being named one of the Upper Valley’s Men Who Cook Hotshots makes me feel…
A: Quite pleased. One of the best things about living in this area is the access we have to wonderful, locally grown food. It’s a major boost to quality of life. It’s also so simple, I think everyone should cook all the time!