Minnetonka Food Blogger Building Community Through Cooking

Minnetonka dad and food blogger shares his tips and recipes.
Food blogger Martin Greenberger and his daughter Lily enjoy cooking together.

The blogger behind Grin and Cook It is a happy chef. Lake Minnetonka resident Martin Greenberger cooks for his family, friends and even friends of friends. He says sharing a meal and talking around the table builds community. “The blog and cooking put fun and joy into my life,” he says. “Overall, this is just a fun hobby for me, and I enjoy cooking for people.”

The blog began three years ago, kicked off by popular demand. Friends were asking Greenberger for his recipes, and his wife suggested he start a food blog. The Grin and Cook It moniker evolved from domain-name research. Many of the catchy blog titles Greenberger envisioned were already registered. “I was thinking I had to stay positive, and grin and bear it,” Greenberger says with a smile. So he decided on Grin and Cook It.

Greenberger doesn’t focus on any particular food theme on the blog, but comfort foods with kosher sensibilities dominate. The guidelines of kosher cooking and food preparation dictate his ingredient lists and cooking methods. Finding substitutes for bacon grease is one example, but there are many others, including the directive against mixing meat and dairy, Greenberger says.  As a self-taught home cook, he uses the kitchen to experiment and adapt foods.

An affinity for fish, especially salmon, often drives the menu. Bake, grill or roast—the versatility of salmon makes it a favorite. The Greenberger family “eats salmon at least once a week at home,” he says—although, he adds with a laugh, the appeal of desserts draws reader interest. “I love salmon and put out a lot of salmon recipes with photos, but people would rather look at a big old piece of chocolate cake.”

Greenberger has an “eclectic collection of recipes that are just about experiments in the kitchen … It’s whatever I feel like when I do it,” he says. “My wife feeds us every day. I usually cook every Friday evening, that Sabbath meal.” He prepares from scratch whenever possible, including pasta and breads, and is “fearless in the kitchen. I’ve been known to try a new recipe for guests. I just wing it,” he says.

Greenberger hosts dinner parties at his home, and even catered for a friend’s daughter’s bat mitzvah. His daughter Lily served as the sous chef for the 80-person affair at a synagogue.

He’s also donated his chef services for charity. Via a silent auction that benefitted his child’s school, eight lucky bidders got to experience his cooking. The multicourse dinner was a huge success.

Typically, Greenberger serves meals “family-style, with big heaps of food on a plate like Thanksgiving,” he says. A day job as an information technology professional leaves him less time than he’d like for cooking. But when Greenberger does, he “takes over the kitchen,” he says. “As I often say, ‘I am blessed with a successful career and a family who needs me.’”

Caramel Sauce
Greenberger shares his recipe for caramel sauce—just in time for Father’s Day. “This is a simple recipe that older kids can make and the whole family will enjoy,” he says. Supervise kids with the hot pan, and have some ice cream on hand for sundaes.

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp. butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract*
Vanilla ice cream for sundaes

Put brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, salt and vanilla extract in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3 minutes while whisking. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Serve over ice cream.

* “Instead of vanilla, I like to add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne,” Greenberger says. “It adds something that makes you wonder what is in it.”