Cooking With Special K

Nov. 28, 2007


California volleyball sophomore libero Kristen Kathan has had a break-out season as the starting defensive specialist for the No. 7 Golden Bears. She is averaging 3.75 digs per game this season, the eighth-highest total in the Pac-10. The Bears finished the regular season with a 22-7 record and matched a program-best 12 conference wins. Cal will be heading to Durham, N.C. this week to face Liberty in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Long plane rides can be taxing but Kathan knows how to enjoy herself no matter what the situation is. caught up with the sophomore in at her 25D aisle seat and asked her a couple of questions to pass the time. Here's what she had to say.

You've really been coming on strong in the latter part of the season. What's it like being the libero on the court and having to dig up all of those attacks?
Thanks! Well, the first thing I think is that I have to get the ball up. I'm the one who has to get us in transition and give us a chance to make a play so I'm always thinking about the next play and basically guessing where the attack is going to go. It's not hard but it's not the easiest thing to do in the world.

You have one of the most interesting serves on the team. It sort of floats out there for a bit before dropping--and you've been able to rack up 27 aces with it this season. What exactly do you do when you're up to serve?
I was working on it a lot this summer and I guess it's a lot more finesse now as I try to take a little off the ball and place it where it needs to go. It's all about strategy and forcing the other team to have to make a play they're not comfortable with. I'm not a power server like Hana Cutura or Morgan Beck but I get it done.

So, we've noticed that you can sometimes be a little particular about your food. Would you consider yourself a connoisseur of fine dining?
I don't know if I would necessarily consider myself a connoisseur but basically, if there's a good meal in front of me, I'm going to eat it and I'll probably like it.

Fair enough. What's one of your favorite things to eat?
My favorite dish of all time has to be my mom's pasta for sure. She's from Italy so she knows how to get it done. It's just delicious. The secret is in the sauce - it's a family secret. If I told you what was in it, I'd have to kill you. One day, I'll know how to make it but it hasn't been passed on to me just yet.

There are tons of dining choices in and around the Cal campus. What is the best place to eat in and around the campus?
Honestly, I'm not sure because I actually go to the same place every single day. Quite literally, I go every single day to this place. If it's good eats, it has to be Café Intermezzo. I get the tossed green salad with herbal vinaigrette with tuna every single time. It's actually rare day if I don't make it over there for at least one of my meals. Sometimes, I'll even go twice a day. The kind people there, they know my order. I try to disguise my voice when I call my order in but it just doesn't work.

So if you're eating out all the time, do you ever cook for yourself?
On the weekends, sometimes I'll cook a nice dinner for my lovely roommate Hana (Cutura) and myself. I haven't lately and I'm very sorry Hana! I usually make a fun chicken dish.

So are you an expert in the kitchen or have there been some less than memorable experiences that you can share with us?
Well, there was this one time when I was cooking for us (Hana and myself) so that we could have a nice family dinner. It was our first couple of weeks in the new apartment so we weren't really sure how to use everything yet. This was my first time cooking in there actually. The menu was a broccoli and chicken dish but within the first five minutes, all of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off. The disastrous part was that Hana didn't know what the fire alarm was so she came running out of her room in a pure panic; screaming her head off. So we had to open up all the windows and we were grabbing anything we could find to fan the smoke out of the apartment. It was a riot. That smoke alarm was just super sensitive. It was bad because you hear those things throughout the entire building so my neighbors weren't too happy.

Nice. Hopefully, you got to have a nice dinner that night anyway. Speaking of nice dinners, what did you do last week for Thanksgiving?
I'm went home to Moraga, which is about 15 minutes away and brought Hana with me. This year, I'm very thankful for my darling family and my good brother Hana. I'm also thankful for my wonderful team.

How sweet. Why do you call Hana 'brother'?
Well, I think we've called each other 'brother' since we've known each other. We think of each other as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. You know - the twins. I call her brother on the court sometimes too. It just slips.

Yes. You two look terribly similar but then again, Arnold and Danny were none too similar themselves. What is your best Thanksgiving memory?
Well, last year was pretty memorable actually. Taking Hana home and introducing her to this new holiday was pretty cool. She loved the whole idea and she loved dark meat so she ate a whole bunch at my house - which is why she's looking forward to coming over again this year.

Got it. Hana loves dark meat. So tell us, what's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
I absolutely have to have my pecan pie at Thanksgiving. My aunt makes a mean pecan pie so I always look forward to that.

So switching gears a little bit, we've heard murmurs around the team that you make a fantastic French onion soup. Tell us about this legendary soup of yours.
I don't know about legendary but it's definitely fantastic. So to make the soup, the first thing you need to do is to get some good beef broth. When you get to the kitchen, take your onions and put them in a pot with some oil and just bring it to a light sizzle. You can do this if you want but I always add some salt and pepper. Then you cook the onions until they're almost burnt but not quite. With the onions in the pot, add the beef broth and turn the heat down a little bit so that you can eventually simmer the whole thing. You want to let it simmer for about a half hour and then usually, I take a look and decide if I want to add some more beef broth or water. Then I taste it and see if I might need more salt. When you're satisfied with the taste, it's time to put it in a bowl. The important part is to put the perfect piece of toasted bread at the bottom of the bowl. Then I pour the soup (broth and onions) over the bread ever so carefully. The best part is the melted cheese though. So then I put a slice of cheese on top and put it into the oven to melt it. That's it. Then it's ready to go. Yum!

Well, we'll definitely be hitting the grocery store when this plane lands. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. We know, you didn't have much of a choice but we're grateful just the same. Go Bears!

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