“You have to understand, my interest in cooking is derived from my interest in eating,” Stan Wheeler says and then chuckles.

For over six years now, the former minister, now Franklin County 9-1-1 dispatcher, has spent some of his valuable off-time in his kitchen producing “The Simple Gourmet,” a cooking show aired on Farmington’s and Wilton’s local access cable channel, Beeline 11.

Wheeler, who was born in Germany and raised in the southern United States, still has traces of his northern Virginia accent as he talks about cooking and his status as “just another foodie.” He fondly recalls all the cooking his grandmother did while his single mom was at work, and tells the story of his first kitchen adventure.

“When I was about 13, I wanted some cream puffs, so I went into the kitchen and made some.” He adds, “I’ve always loved to cook and read about food.”

As a matter of fact, Wheeler, who has been married to his wife, Donna, for 35 years, not only does the bulk of the cooking, but also spends about two hours a day reading the 10 food blogs he subscribes to online. Then there’s the time he devotes to The Food Network; one of his favorite shows being “Everyday Italian.”

He loves to experiment with herbs and spices, is especially fond of curry powder, and has fun concocting impromptu omelets. “One of the things I’m into right now is Korean food,” says Wheeler. “I love to make a stir-fry and then plop a fried egg on top of it.”

Shrimp and crab meat are other favorite ingredients of the Simple Gourmet. “I’ve always said there are no, or at least very few, original recipes. When I cook, I start with a basic recipe, like one from a good Maine cookbook, then add ideas from a variety of sources, like cooking magazines or food blogs, and spin off from there.”

The majority of Wheeler’s cooking is done on the stove top, but he does like a simple roast surrounded by vegetables on occasion. He also loves what the heat of an oven does for cauliflower. He recommends slicing the vegetable into “steaks,” seasoning with olive oil and salt, and roasting on a baking sheet until fork-tender.

Although Wheeler says he doesn’t bake that much, he possesses a home-baking license and has been known to whip up batches of hazelnut-white chocolate biscotti, selling them under the name “Stan’s Kitchen.” As we talk about the crunchy biscotti, I can see in his eyes the twinkle of a 13-year-old boy baking up those cream puffs in his grandmother’s kitchen — surrounded by clouds of flour and dirty mixing bowls and spoons.

For this story, Stan showed us how to segue from Indian summer to cooler autumn nights with two of his favorite recipes: lobster-shrimp rolls and curried carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk. These two can be served together or separately, with other accompaniments for a deliciously light and healthy meal.

You can view episodes of Wheeler’s delightful and interesting TV show by going online to www.mtbluetv.org and clicking on “The Simple Gourmet.”

Lobster-shrimp roll

Serves 8

Stan Wheeler’s favorite way to cook shrimp is to lightly poach them in gently boiling, salted water with some chopped celery and carrots added. Cook until the shrimp are no longer translucent, being careful not to overcook.

12 ounces fresh cooked lobster meat

1 pound large shrimp (20-30 count), cooked, cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon snipped chives

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

8 top-split hot dog rolls

Melted butter, unsalted

In a medium bowl, mix together shrimp and lobster, and toss with lemon juice. Stir in Old Bay Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in mayonnaise and chives. Refrigerate for several hours.

Heat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium heat. Brush melted butter on each side of the rolls, place in the pan, turning only once, until golden brown. Spoon the lobster/shrimp mixture into each of the buns. Garnish with more chives or finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Curried carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk

Serves 4

1 large onion, diced

3 pounds fresh carrots, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder; add more after tasting, if desired

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1  14-ounce can coconut milk

In Dutch oven or large pot, saute onions and ginger in olive oil until tender (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add carrots and curry powder and saute for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add stock (use more or less depending on the consistency you like). Reduce heat and cook until carrots are tender. Blend thoroughly with immersion blender (or CAREFULLY puree in blender, being very careful to do this in small batches and allow the soup to cool a bit first). Add coconut milk. Adjust seasoning if needed.

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