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Dear Una: Forensic Cooking Adventures
By Una Quinesabe
Mar 4, 2012 - 1:40:03 PM

BEVERLY HILLS—In this day and ago, life can be trying, like can be confusing and life can be hard. Sometimes, one simply craves the advice of the wise in navigating the currents of life. And thankfully, Una Quienesabe is just that sage you’ve been searching for.

Dear Una:

I stay home and cook more often now since money is tighter. I cook healthy, easy stuff, but I wish I could make food like my mother used to. I didn't learn any of her recipes and I can't find them, even from older family members. Help!
Forlorn in My Kitchen
Westwood, CA

Dear Forlorn,

"Forensic Cooking" has become a widely practiced interest of many who find themselves in just your situation! More people are going back to their kitchens and hope to revive long-forgotten food treasures from yesteryear.

There are a number of online sites devoted to piecing together long-lost culinary delights. Both your inquiries and whatever information you can contribute will help you and other users of these resources complete this fondly-remembered family food legacies.

You can start your web search for recipes at the many general recipe sites (including HGTV,, Cooking Channel, your favorite food magazine site). Narrow your search by ethnic or regional categories.

You were absolutely right to try older family members to see if they would help you. Although this avenue of inquiry was fruitless as far as your recipes were concerned, I'm sure that the phone or face time spent with elderly family members was a gift to you both!

When you find that you are successful in compiling your ingredient list for that masterpiece pasta fazool or kishka or kruumbakke, remember to consider less modern versions of your ingredients. Consider what foods were available to Mom or Grandma and remember that their utensils and baking and cooking vessels will also affect flavor, color, and consistency of your fish. Modern cooking methods like microwave convection cooking and use of preserved, frozen or processed foodstuffs will also alter your end result.

One of the great advantages of the internet, besides finding your special recipe, is being able to find authentic, old-fashioned and super-specialty ingredients and utensils with relative ease. You may also find a community of people interested in your particular ethnic or period-specific good adventures! There has never been a better time to find success in rediscovering your family's gastronomic history, and there isn't a better way to share joy and sustenance with your loved ones today.

Dear Una:

My brother is dating a girl who is wrong for him in every way. To be blunt, she's trashy and she doesn't share any of his values. I have no idea how or why he saddled himself with such a loser, but I need help explaining to him why he needs to move on and fast!

Concerned Sister
Santa Barbara, CA

Dear Concerned Sister:

Clearly this woman offers yours brother something that he feels compensates for the fact that she's an ill-bred slattern. If Bubba will listen, tell him about your objections. Tell him that the poor behavior of the lady-friend will prevent him from improving his life and even cost him opportunities and the good opinion of others. If he values your presence in his life, let him know that your patience with his tacky connections has limits, too.

The very best way to focus your brother's attention away from "flooz-mania" is to introduce him to a better class of women! Invite him solo to your home when you are having nice and available friends over or ask him to accompany you to events where he might encounter some truly good and interesting gals. This can include car shows, trade shows, sports events, church/temple functions, community volunteer groups, alumni groups and more. Hopefully, he can identify someone at one of these places with manners and depth of character and hopefully with a little help from you, he can draw a clear contrast with his current loser girlfriend.

Keep communicating, stay on point and hopefully, he'll come around!

Dear Una,

I'm a young working woman and am flat broke, but I still want to look fashionable. What can I do to stay away from Frumpsville?

Broke but Trying To Be Fashionable,
Valley Village, CA

Dear Broke,

There are lots of ways to look great on a budget. First, prioritize aim to look clean, modest and appropriate to your situation and physique. Define your style, remembering that refinement is more desirable than flesh in most situations. Have basic wardrobe pieces to mix and match in neutral colors: gray, navy, tan/khaki, ivory and black. Skirts, blouses, blazers and pants can be parlayed into many outfits for work, fun, and even dressy occasions with these fashion basics in your arsenal. Accessorizing these basics with a fun, inexpensive T-shirt or blouse in a "just for this season" color and pattern won't destroy your budget and can give you that "new outfit lift" without buying a whole new outfit. Keep your shoes and handbags neutral and simple. Clip rhinestones or flowers to your shoes, take them from work to an evening out (and I'll bet Mom has some she'd give you that qualify as conversationally, sensationally vintage!)

The same goes for handbags: a scarf, a cloth brown flower or pin or rhinestone can take a plan bag far into fashion fun! Do you sew, knit, crochet? These skills can keep your closet stocked with trendy fun!

Some groups of friends have clothing exchanges. They get together and bring what's been worn too often, no longer fits, what they're just tired of, and trade among themselves. Tired wardrobe pieces take on a new life with a different owner and you get a chance to socialize and recycle! Take clothes that don't find new owners to a charity that you and your friends choose!

Another strategy for keeping a wardrobe appearing to be fresh and fashionable is shopping the sales. Some very posh department stores have very legitimate sales several times a year and with a little time and hunting, you can find good quality pieces to rejuvenate and stretch your wardrobe.

Remember also, when you're looking for those special-occasion, date night clothes, try to find garments that can multitask with accessorizing. These clothes will look great and fresh over and over. Try to walk past that dazzling garment that will make a searing impression on everyone and will seem as if you wear it constantly when it's been worn twice.

So, to recap: collect a basic, neutral foundation wardrobe with versatile pieces, keep "faddy" or "too trendy" items to a minimum, and reach for the resources of family, friends, innovation and imagination before you reach for your wallet!

Do you have a question for which you crave Una’s sage wisdom? Send your questions to Una at And stay tuned - Una may just get to your question!

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