Our Life MN Our Life - Page 5

focus.mnsun.com / post.mnsun.com Our Life • Thursday/Friday, November 17 & 18, 2016 Page 5 Wayzata cook honors Greek, Norwegian food traditions BY SUE WEBBER CONTRIBUTING WRITER Lou Vlahos credits his grandparents and parents for a lifetime love affair with food. “I came from a family of restaurateurs in West Virginia and Springfield, Ohio,” said Vlahos, who was an only child. “My grandparents were both incredible cooks. I taught myself a lot from their tutelage. My first experience with cooking as a kid was when I made cheesecake at the age of 8.” He especially enjoys cooking Greek and Mediterranean foods, but also includes French, Italian and Asian dishes in his repertoire. He likes making baklava and giving it away for special occasions and holiday gifts. “It’s one of my passions,” said Vlahos, a Wayzata resident who is director of missions, communication and membership at Wayzata Community Church. He enjoys sharing his food creations at potluck dinners, and dinners for rummage sale volunteers. He and his husband, Tom Paulson, director of music at the church, entertain frequently and also have offered a special donation at a fundraiser, as well. “Last year we donated two Greek dinners with music, and the whole nine yards,” Vlahos said. “Between the two of us, we made a party and raised $1,600.” Vlahos also admits to making lefse. “My mother-in-law gave me a lefse maker and she and I make it for the family,” Vlahos said. “I enjoy being able to come up with different ways to adapt the recipe. For her, it was always butter and sugar rollups. But I found lefse also works well for a sandwich in the morning, with cheese, sausage and spices. “She said, ‘That’s heresy. I can’t believe you’re eating it like that.’ But she was smiling,” Vlahos said. Vlahos is a second-generation Greek, and Paulson is a third-generation Norwegian. Having an aversion to dorm food in college, Vlahos got a hot plate and toaster oven and made pastichio, similar to a Greek lasagna, he said. “I called my grandma to ask her what spices to use, and she said, ‘Oh, a Lou Vlahos, left, and Tom Paulson collaborated on a recent dinner party that included artichoke cheese pita (in the big little bit of this, and a pan), crab guacamole (in the white bowl) and marinated lamb chops with calamata olives, lemon and toasted cherry little bit of that.’ So I tomatoes (in the pan in the front). (Submitted photo) learned by tasting.” Vlahos rememlunches” to take to work the next day. “People don’t realize they can save time bers working at the family restaurant in “I enjoy it; I enjoy making people hap- doing that,” he said. Ohio that his mother ran with his aunt, py,” Vlahos said, adding that turning cookWhile Paulson reads mysteries and hishelping in the parking lot and mowing the ing into a serious business sometimes re- tory books, Vlahos prefers perusing the grass. sults in losing the passion. myriad cookbooks he owns. However, “I wanted to cook; I wanted to be a chef, Lamb figures prominently in Vlahos’ when people ask him for a recipe, Vlahos but everyone in my family said ‘absolutely Greek cooking. He purchases a whole said, “I feel like my grandparents. They’d not,’” Vlahos recalled. lamb, has it cut and processed, and stores say, ‘watch me.’ Friends have urged me to He subsequently was married to an Ital- it in one of the two freezers at his home. do cooking videos, but I haven’t gotten ian woman for 27 years and the whole fam- “At the grocery store, I first check to see into that.” ily, including his sons, all cooked, Vlahos what meat is on sale, and then plan menus The two enjoy entertaining. “Our said. based on that,” he said. “I shop for cost and kitchen is always open,” Vlahos said. “We “My ex-father-in-law had an imported fix what fits into the budget. You’ve got to eat well, but we don’t eat a lot. You can do foods and meat store, so I had anything I leave room for wine.” something simple and easy, but it can be wanted at my fingertips,” Vlahos said. “We He calls himself a planner, who uses a done with flair and be good to eat. I make cooked up a storm.” “Base 7” system. He said he thinks about awesome French toast. You can stuff it, or Since his marriage to Paulson, Vlahos making one basic recipe that can be frozen I’ve made it as a dessert with ice cream and has introduced him to the Greek foods he into seven small batches and used to cook Grand Marnier liqueur.” grew up with. “Feta [ch