About me

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Hi, I'm Erika Penzer Kerekes. In Erika's Kitchen is about just what it says - life in my kitchen, a very busy place. It's food, for sure, but also family, friends, and how not to panic when a dozen people show up unexpectedly for dinner.

Here are the 10 most important things you need to know about me, in no particular order:
  1. I did not learn to cook from my mother. My mother hates to cook. I learned from PBS and the early days of Food Network.
  2. I love salt. Give me the choice between cookies and french fries, and I'll take the french fries every time. I inherited this preference from my mother, and my older son got it from me.
  3. I grew up on Long Island. The part with the cookie-cutter subdivisions, not the part with the movie stars and sandy beaches. I've been in southern California more than 15 years. Sorry, Mom - I'm never going back.
  4. The first meal I ever made was for the other members of my "secret society" in college. George Bush was in a secret society where waiters in tails and white gloves served meals on bone china in an elegant stone building without windows. I was in a secret society where we took turns cooking dinner in the grimy kitchen of our run-down house at the edge of campus. I made homemade applesauce from apples I picked at a nearby orchard and served it over vanilla ice cream. It was the only time that house ever smelled of anything other than beer and sweat.
  5. My grandmother made fabulous matzoh ball soup. When I started to cook and asked for her recipe, she confessed she used Lipton's powder for the soup and a mix for the matzoh balls. I was crushed.
  6. My college friend Judith bought me my first wire cooling rack. She also taught me to bake. I will be forever in her debt.
  7. I am still going through my truffle phase.
  8. My wonderful and brilliant husband Michael designed our kitchen for maximum functionality. It is the most usable space in which I have ever cooked or entertained. I'm more comfortable in my kitchen than in my bed.
  9. We have a rule in our house about kitchen equipment: If a new one enters, an old one must exit. That's why I have to sneak in my new stuff in the middle of the night.
  10. We have an open-door policy when it comes to meals. If I know you, you're always welcome at our table. If I meet you, I'm likely to invite you over during our first conversation. And if we haven't met yet, what are you waiting for?  
And now, shameless bragging:
A note on product reviews and other brand-oriented posts: 
  • I don't do many product reviews, but I do sometimes accept free samples and incorporate them into stories and/or recipes. In these posts, other than any bias I might retain from getting the product for free, the words and opinions are mine entirely. 
  • I do occasionally do sponsored posts where I am paid actual money to write about a particular product or brand. In those cases, the sponsor generally has approved the content of the post before it is published. 
  • I will always disclose when I am being paid or get something for free so you know where my biases may lie.