A sisterly effort

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First Posted: 9/9/2014

When Wilkes-Barre native Nicole Frail talks about cooking, eating and even cleaning up afterward, she makes it sound so much like a game that you want to grab a spatula or a dish towel and join right in.

“It’s such a great time,” she said, describing cooking with her boyfriend, Matthew Magda, as an adventure. “We put on music when we cook and we’re in the top floor of an apartment building so it’s pretty warm all the time. We’re running for a fan to plug it in and aim it at the ceiling.”

Frail doesn’t complain about lugging groceries to the fifth-floor Manhattan walk-up or about the limits of her kitchen counter other than to describe it, with a laugh, as “the size of a cutting board; it’s ridiculous. I immediately take all the pots and pans and start washing them because we need the space.”

Eager to share their enthusiasm for cooking, Frail, who works as an editor at New York-based Skyhorse Publishing and Magda, who is a professional cook at Betony, a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan have created “The Little Red Book of Kitchen Wisdom,” a collection of quotations from authors, chefs, comedians, philosophers and other observers of life.

If you want to know what Voltaire had to say about ice cream or why a meat expert named Bruce Aidelis bypasses his many other pots and pans in favor of a humble, second-hand skillet, this little book can supply some food for thought.

“We put the book together last November,” Frail said, explaining it fit nicely into Skyhorse’s “Little Book” series of slim volumes with brightly colored covers.

Her sister, Kerri Frail, who used to pitch in and clean up after dinner alongside Nicole when they were growing up together in the Wilkes-Barre area and while they were both students at Wilkes University, also helped with the book. Kerri Frail contributed graphic illustrations that depict such foods as sushi, peanuts and a pot of savory tomato paste. She works as a graphic designer and marketing specialist at Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services in Wilkes-Barre.

So, what does “The Little Red Book of Kitchen Wisdom” have to say about food? Here are some of the thoughts it contains:

• “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? … Eat that which is good and let your soul delight in fatness.” — Isaiah 55:2

• “I have often wondered who was the first person to realize that eating an artichoke was a good idea.” — Chris Cosentino, “Beginnings.”

• “What is soup? It is some sort of food, diluted with enough liquid for you to be able to eat the dish with a spoon. It isn’t any more complicated than that.” — Sten Sture Skaldeman, “The Low Carb High Fat Cookbook”

• “I own a few hundred pots and pans, but the one I use most frequently is a cast-iron skillet left behind by a college roommate back in the ’60s. Nothing beats this skillet for cooking thick steaks or pork chops to juicy perfection.” —Bruce Aidelis, “The Complete Meat Cookbook”

• “Shopping from the gut makes me feel womanly.” — Alyssa Shelasky, “Apron Anxieties.”

• “I equate [being the chef] to a conductor conducting an orchestra. The conductor is the one who’s getting billing. You don’t expect the conductor to jump in and start playing the instruments. In fact, if he does, you’re in trouble. Same thing

with a chef.” — Tom Colicchio to Scott Raab, “Esquire”

• “Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” — Voltaire

• “Love is the jelly to sunshine’s peanut butter. And if I tell you that I’m in sandwich with you, I”m not just saying it to get in your Ziploc bag.” — Jarod Kintz, “Love Quotes for the Ages. Specifically Ages 18 – 81.”