February’s Featured Kitchen Chick: Joanna Coatney
I met Joanna Coatney long ago in 7th grade when all of the local schools converged to become one large intermediate school. If you’ve ever met Joanna, you know that she lights up a room when she walks in. Heck, she lights up a room even if she’s sitting there with tons of people around her. She is that woman who has power and is fierce, but is also kind and approachable. Joanna advocates for the weak and encourages the strong to help in her fight. She has a contagious laugh and an adorable puppy! She is a reverend, a social worker, a singer, a natural beauty, and so much more. These kind of women are rare. So, it was an obvious choice to feature Joanna as our Featured Kitchen Chick for February! I hope you all enjoy getting to know her a little better through this post…and pssst! Make her New Orleans Pasta! Whoa baby! It is DELICIOUS! Find the recipe here.
Who is Joanna Coatney?
Joanna has been married to “the most amazing man in the world” for 3.5 years. Though her family is small (Joanna, her husband, and their dog Macy), they live very busy lives!
I work as a Dropout Prevention Specialist in Manor ISD. Daily, I am responsible for monitoring the attendance of every student at three different campuses, following-up with students and parents of students who have attendance issues, going on home visits, referring students and families to resources that can help improve their attendance, and making truancy court referrals when no improvement takes place. It keeps me very busy and can be challenging at times, but I absolutely love what I do! It can sometimes be difficult to cook a meal after a long day at work, but my love for food and the cooking process is what keeps me from ordering a pizza every day.
“I am big on family! I absolutely love spending time with my mom, siblings, nieces and nephews, and our time together usually involves food. That’s how we bond! My mom is the Master Chef of the family, and I like to think that I am following in her footsteps.”
Where does your love of cooking come from?
I think my love of cooking comes from my love of food! I am very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods because I don’t want to miss out on tasting something that could possibly blow my socks off! When it comes to cooking, I’m always looking for a new recipe to try. Better yet, I’m always creating my own recipes and experimenting in the kitchen.
There’s something about cooking that relaxes me. When I cook, I turn on some of my favorite music, get in the kitchen, and let my creativity take over. It brings me to a place of peace like nothing else can.
What are your favorite type of recipes to cook? Why?
My favorite types of recipes to cook are dinner recipes. In my house, dinner is the heartiest meal of the day. There are more components to the meal so I have more room to get creative. And the majority of the time, dinner is the only meal that I get to share with my husband. So that’s my opportunity to impress him with something new and put a smile on his face!
What is your favorite food to eat? Your least favorite?
My favorite food to eat would be a tie between Mexican and Chinese. I love the various flavors and spices used in both, and I LOVE eating with chopsticks! I’m not sure what that’s about but I do. I don’t really have a least favorite food to eat.
The only food I don’t like is nasty food!
Who taught you to cook? How have they inspired you as an adult?
My mom taught me how to cook early on. I would go into the kitchen as a child and just watch her and try to pick up some tips. My mom inspires me because she rarely follows a recipe. She allows her heart and her taste buds to create her recipes, and her food is AMAZING!!! There is no one who has ever had my mom’s cooking and did not like it. I know that she will not be here forever, and my goal is to make sure that family can still enjoy food that’s just as amazing as my mom’s (or as close to it as possible).
What’s a trick you use in your cooking that you think everyone should know how to do?
You must create a staple seasoning combination that goes great with a variety of things! For example, when I cook meats, I use the same seasoning combination on chicken, burger patties, steak, and sometimes even fish. You have to experiment and find the perfect combination for you and your household.
Any epic cooking failures? What happened?
YES! I once made tilapia for my then boyfriend (now husband) and I. I was seasoning the fish with lemon pepper seasoning when all of a sudden the cap fell off and a pile of seasoning was dumped onto the fish! I tried my best to get as much of it off as possible, but in hindsight, I wish I would’ve just thrown it away. It was extremely salty, and we could not bear to eat it!
Do you prefer to cook basic, down home meals or gourmet/exotic meals? Why?
It depends on my mood, whether I’m feeling adventurous or not. After a more stressful day at work, I lean towards a more basic menu. On a Saturday when I’m in a great mood and it’s a pretty day, I feel more daring and want to try something more interesting and risky.
What’s a fond memory that you associate with cooking?
One of my favorite cooking memories has to be every Thanksgiving and Christmas as a child. My mom would make dressing every year for both holidays (and she still does), and I was her designated Cornbread Crumbler! Once the cornbread was cooked and cut into big squares, my mom would call me into the kitchen to do the dirty work, and I would dive right in! After washing my hands, of course. I loved the feeling of the warm cornbread crumbling between my fingers!
What’s your husband’s favorite dish that you make?
One day I got in the kitchen and threw together a pasta dish. I found a recipe for homemade Alfredo sauce, and I used bow tie pasta and added grilled chicken, shrimp, and bacon (along with a combination of different seasonings). He LOVED it and has forbidden me to cook it for anyone other than him! I still need to give that dish a name.
What do you guys think? What should Joanna call her signature dish?
You’ve traveled to many countries. Which stands out as having the best food?
I would have to say that the best food I’ve had outside of the US was in Jamaica. WOW!!! I don’t even know how to describe it, but every single thing I had while I was there was delicious!
What do you love most about the ATX food scene? Favorite restaurant?
I love the food trucks in Austin. There are so many of them, and there’s a diverse selection of foods to choose from. You can find anything from Korean BBQ to gourmet doughnuts in Austin’s food truck industry. One of my favorites is Way South Philly. They have the BEST Philly Cheesesteaks in the city!
Micklewaith, a BBQ food truck, has some of the best brisket you will ever taste!
What makes you a Kitchen Chick?
What I feel makes me a kitchen chick is my passion for food and my desire to serve something pleasing every single time I cook, no matter the meal. I also think that the joy and peace that I find while in the kitchen lets me know that cooking is not just some temporary fad for me. It’s something that is embedded in my soul and always will be.
Oh my gosh…how many of you guys can relate? *raises hand* Seriously. That is what it is ALL about!