As an author, culinary genius and lakes-area enthusiast, Loren Shaum is definitely at the top of his game, as evidenced by his superb books, Seasons in Lake Country and Holidays in Lake Country. The first book, Seasons in Lake Country, is a tribute to the changing seasons and the fish, meats and produce that are synonymous with spring, summer, fall and winter. Holidays in Lake Country focuses on the four F’s of the holidays: family, friends, food and festivities.Shaum’s two books are dazzling cookbooks centered around the laid-back lake culture and feature simple, traditional recipes along with gourmet cuisine, ethnic foods and wild game. Intertwined with the mouthwatering entrees are stunning photos which perfectly tie in the flavors, ambience and moods of his favorite subject. Although Shaum’s love affair is with Lake Wawasee, the dishes and photos are relevant to any lake setting where families and friends gather.
He didn’t start out with aspirations to be a four-star chef. In fact, he holds a graduate degree in electrical engineering and has spent his professional career in that field, including involvement with four technical start-ups. But Shaum became a foodie as a small child under the tutelage of his mother and Mennonite aunts.
“When they wanted to keep things just between them, they spoke Low German, commonly known as Pennsylvania Dutch.” Shaum remembers. From the wonderful meals that came out of their traditional kitchen to the farmers market that the family ran every year with fresh produce and meats, Shaum literally grew up exposed to the freshest local ingredients that a good cook always desires. “Harvest time was a time of celebration and feasts fit for a king.”
Shaum says his father retired at age 69 and started raising fresh produce full-time, supplying surrounding farmer’s markets with fruits and vegetables like strawberries, grapes, turnips, potatoes and sweet corn. Once again, Shaum was in the epicenter of Mother Nature’s farm-fresh ingredients. A move from Indiana to Milwaukee exposed him to traditional German fare as well as Serbian and Polish influences. The next move landed him and his family in Pittsburgh, resulting in exposure to Jewish, Italian and even Middle Eastern foods.
“That’s where my affinity for Mediterranean food started, especially Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine,” he says.
Everybody knows Indiana boys always come home, and when Shaum returned, his electrical engineering career landed him in the lakes area, and he has never left. Returning to his roots, he took his passion, exposure and experience and used them to share his delightful recipes and skills through catering a few large parties and also with gatherings at his lake-front home overlooking the water on his large deck complete with Greek cuisine, multiple meze dishes and, of course, togas.
With Seasons in Lake Country completed, it was only natural for Shaum to start on his second book, Holidays in Lake Country. It contains equally delightful recipes and pictures that capture the spirit of the festivities associated with the holidays, starting with a New Year’s Day gourmet brunch on through Valentine’s Day and St. Patty’s Day. Shaum, of course, celebrates Easter with a fresh spring lamb (recipe included). Cinco de Mayo calls for Mexican fare with nothing but the freshest ingredients. Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend all call for celebrations and outdoor grilling. The fall ushers in tailgating parties and football games, and Shaum’s got you covered there, too, with delectable easy-to-prepare-and-transport fixings.
Since his professional career had him spending many Thanksgivings in Europe with little access to a traditional turkey dinner, Shaum expanded his tastes and talents with wild game like boar, venison and goose. That rounded out his culinary skills with a broad range of dishes from traditional to exotic.
But it’s Christmas when Shaum can make you a culinary superstar.
Starters: Stuffed Kibbeh, Saganaki Intermezzo: Sherry-laced, Ginger-Pumpkin Soup with Pepitas, Spinach and Lima Bean Salad with Warm Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Main Course: Roast Goose with Brandied Kumquat Sauce and Liver-Mushroom Stuffing, Brussels Sprouts, Pearl Onions and Chestnuts in Horseradish Cream Sauce, Potato Casserole for the Masses
Finale: Black Forest Torte
This Christmas Eve dinner takes on a bit of Middle Eastern flair with the starters. Serve these with a nice red wine, Merlot, Malbec or even an excellent Greek red like Magnos Onus – all are great choices. Then migrate to the main course with a velvety pumpkin soup and the partially wilted spinach salad. A nice Pinot Grigio works well with both.
For the main course, prepare the two side dish casseroles early on, bring to room temperature then place in the oven with the goose. I like to serve a slightly heavier wine like a Zinfandel with goose. Finish off with a German classic, Black Forest Torte and you have an international Christmas Eve dinner making all delighted, reflective on the past year and looking forward to opening gifts Christmas morning.
Unfortunately, space constraints keep me from listing these wonderful recipes, as they are lengthy. The good news is that you can find them and countless other instructions for preparing Loren’s delicacies in both books, both of which are available on Amazon. To order a signed copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.