By Marion Filler
Move over Ina Garten. There’s a new cookbook in town.
In celebration of the 90th anniversary of The Seeing Eye, 27 of its graduates have produced Pawsitively Deicious Recipes, a compendium of approximately 100 time-tested recipes for everything from soups and desserts to main dishes and even a few canine treats.
The book was introduced, fittingly, at a luncheon, in the dining room of The Seeing Eye’s Morris Township headquarters on Friday.
Committee co-chairs Christina Brino and Ginger Kutsch relied upon the food service team at The Seeing Eye, as well as members of the staff and graduates from around the country, for their input.
As explained in the preface, it was a labor of love:
“Inspired by a deep sense of gratitude for our extraordinary dogs, and a steadfast desire to give back to The Seeing Eye, we worked together for almost a year to complete this book.”
Daily emails among graduates linked everyone, “kitchen to kitchen, heart to heart,” the preface adds.
Everyone has his or her favorites, and desserts account for almost half of the recipes in the book. Who won’t try Walnut Bourbon Pie? Or follow the advice of Seeing Eye testers who vouch for the Chocolate Mousse Pie finished off with raspberries?
What about the recommendation of annual fund officer Nancy Fondaco, who won first prize for her Banana Split Trifle at the staff Halloween party, or P.R. specialist Michelle Barlak, who relishes the French Toast with Banana and Streusel Topping?
Recipes from the food service team were a special challenge because they had to be pared down from a commercial scale. But Spinach Salad and Grilled Chicken and Fruit, a favorite of cook Jorge Henao, made the transition easily. So did the White Chicken Chili.
Residents at The Seeing Eye stay for about one month, explained President & C.E.O. Jim Kutsch. “We want to keep them as comfortable as possible. They are away from home and living with a brand new dog,” he said, so good food is essential.
He noted that food preparation for the sight-impaired cannot depend upon recognizing when food is ready to serve. Timing, therefore, must be exact.
To facilitate cooking in their own kitchen, Jim and Ginger Kutsch, both legally blind, have a talking meat thermometer and talking scale. They also use Amazon’s Alexa for timing, and for instructing Pea Pod what to include in the next delivery.
The visual appeal of food is important, “but it can be negative as well,” said Jim Kutsch.
“A lot of people think if you lose the sense of sight that the rest of your senses get better and better, but that’s not exactly true. I would not say that blind people have a better sense of taste than anyone else. They are just not distracted by appearance.”
Pawsitively Delicious Recipes from The Seeing Eye is available in print and has also been transcribed into Braille by Judy Dixon. Authored by Ginger Kutsch, introduction by Debbie Grubb, art work by Hava Hegenbarth, designed by Karen Viray, and edited by Catherine Kiernan, Rev. Paul Holmes, and Scott Miller, it is available in The Seeing Eye online store for $15.