Petra Console was born in Martinez, California to German immigrants, only two months after they arrived in America. Her mother was born in Romania and her father in Czechoslovakia, but both were of German descent. Her parents spoke four languages, but only enough English to get by when they first arrived, learning more from the radio each day. Petra was raised speaking German at home and learned English in kindergarten.
She grew up in Santa Barbara, California, the oldest of two children, and was always in the kitchen, peeling potatoes or helping prepare dinner with Mama. It paid off; she learned all the family recipes and actually enjoyed it.
Her parents traveled back and forth to Europe many times, but because they were behind the “iron curtain,” Petra didn’t get to meet her grandparents until they emigrated to Germany from Romania when she was twenty-two years old. Petra tells us it was quite a meeting!
Petra’s father wanted to go back to his roots, so he moved the family to Austria in 1968 and lived there for about six months. With Austria as their starting point, the family visited Switzerland, Italy, the French Riviera and Germany. Petra was crazy for the Italian way of life and food, and at the age of fifteen promised herself she’d marry an Italian one day. When she was 22 she met Michele and knew she found her future and her Italian. He was a charming and handsome Calabrese who had been transferred from Rome to San Francisco, and then to Santa Barbara. They started cooking together like crazy, drank wine and enjoyed Italian opera. They were married at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1977, and had two children.
The Consoles now live in Medford, Oregon and absolutely love it. Their daughter and grandchildren live in Beaverton and their son is a professional chef in Ashland. Cooking is a part of their family tradition and lives,and thankfully, this month Petra shares some of those traditions with us!
Roasted Eggplant Salad (Salata de Vinete)
a traditional Romanian dish; chopped roasted eggplant with onion, olive oil & vinegar, served with Pearl Bakery baguette slices
Schnitzel & Salad
pork loin cutlet, flattened, breaded & pan-fried, served with cucumber salad
pork loin cutlet, flattened, breaded & pan-fried, served with potato & celery root salad (kartofel salat mit zeller) & cucumber salad
Beef Stew with Mushrooms
slow-cooked “cascade natural” beef with mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, peas & red wine, served with fresh wide egg noodles & sour cream
ladyfingers dipped in coffee liqueur, brandy & espresso, layered with mascarpone & whipped cream