Profile: Nurse Cindy Schoeneck
Cindy Schoeneck is a very good cook. One Monday morning, Cindy—a registered nurse and an adept quilter—sits at the table in her airy, well-equipped, white kitchen in San Diego, showing me a stack of recipes. All written in elegant cursive, they include goulash, German potato salad, cheese torte, stollen, cracker dumplings, and chocolate roulage.
“These are my favorite things to cook,” she says. “They come from my family and my husband’s, our friends at church, and the many places I used to live.”
Cindy and her twin sister spent their childhood in Alabama and Michigan with parents from two different backgrounds: Their mother was from Mississippi, and their father was of Dutch/Amish origin. “We ate Southern and Germanic food growing up,” she remembers. After living all over the United States (including 10 years in Philadelphia with her husband and children), Cindy is now firmly rooted in Southern California.
Age 57 — Hometown Hard question - too many places to count — Where do you live? San Diego — Occupation Registered Nurse — Signature dish Southern-style creamed corn—it's a family favorite — Who taught you how to cook? My mom and my friend Diane Phillips — Favorite kitchen tool Chef knife — Always in your pantry Flour, sugar and butter — Go-to snack Tortilla chips — Favorite cuisine It's a tie between Italian and Mexican (but not Tex-Mex) — Do you diet? I would rather say I watch what I eat and try to make better food choices — Food addictions Oreo cookies and Girl Scout Thin Mints—they are not allowed in my house — Food allergies None but I don't like to eat eggs — Food fad pet peeve Gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, paleo — Who’s your sous chef? My son, Jon — Drinking while cooking? I drink chilled filtered water or iced tea. If we are cooking for a crowd and there is lots of people in the kitchen, then we'll open some wine and start the party early. — What’s for dinner tonight? Peri-peri grilled chicken and roasted vegetables — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? Only if I'm cooking for an event and I can't substitute something else. — Best meal you ever had Chef's tasting menu at Quay's in Sydney, Australia. The signature dessert—jackfruit snow egg—was simply unforgettable. I still dream about that dinner.
Sauerbraten, or “sour roast,” is a classic German dish made by marinating a big chunk of beef in vinegary water for a few days and then cooking it slowly in the oven. Accompanied by a glossy brown gravy made with crushed gingersnaps, this unassuming pot roast is full of flavor—a perfect marriage of sweet and acidic. “My husband’s grandmother, Irene Schoeneck, was a wonderful cook,” says Cindy. “This recipe is from her.” Serve with boiled potatoes or spaetzle.
- Serves 6-8
- 1 rump roast (4-5 pounds)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 10 black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 10 juniper berries
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 15-18 dark gingersnap cookies
- Place the meat in a container large enough to enclose it. Combine the vinegar with the water and pour it over the meat, making sure it is completely submerged. If the marinade isn’t sufficient to cover the meat, make more by combining 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Cover the container and refrigerate for 5 days.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the meat from the container and pat it dry with paper towels. Discard the liquid.
- Salt, pepper and flour all sides of the meat. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over high heat and brown the meat on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Place the meat in a Dutch oven or a large, ovenproof dish with a lid. Mix together the vinegar, water, wine, salt, black peppercorns, juniper berries and sugar, and pour over the meat. It will not be completely submerged this time. Cover and cook in the oven until tender, about 3 hours.
- Take the pot out of the oven, carefully remove the roast, and place it on plate. Cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
- Strain the sauce from the pot, discard all solids, and return it back to the pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the crushed gingersnaps and cook, stirring occasionally, until the gravy thickens. Season with salt, black pepper and sugar to taste.
- Slice the roast and serve with the gravy.
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