In the Kitchen with Joe Pedoto

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:10

SPARTA — Dr. Joe Pedoto draws inspiration from his life as both a licensed psychologist and a musician. Owning a psychology practice in Sparta and Montclair, and being a member in a local band, Pedoto enjoys the diversity of both careers. "It was always a dual love for me. It started out with a psychology class in college with a friend," said Pedoto. "He became a rock writer, I became a psychologist and a musician.” And he also teaches psychology at Caldwell College at the graduate and undergraduate level. Although one passion did not influence the other, Pedoto sees a commonality: “Music and psychology share one thread which is creativity. You need to be creative to be a good therapist,” said Pedoto. As a teenager, Pedoto, who comes from a musical family, took up guitar. “My grandfather played violin which got me interested in string instruments, and my mom played piano,” he said. “I started out high school as a jock and left as a rocker.” He has since studied with renown jazz guitarist Bill Conners. All of this while getting his PhD in psychology from Seton Hall in 1994. Prior to that he had been counseling for many years. Under the stage-name Joe Mystery in 2001, Pedoto recorded an album called "Classic rock for the new millennium" and today has a 600-foot space in his home where he writes and records music. In the spring he has a blues album coming out that is slated to be placed in 300 blues stations throughout the United States. His band, II Big II Fail, does profit and non-profit performances and has played at Arthurs, Kroghs and the Mohawk House in Sparta. Although there is very little money to be earned in the local music scene due to the popularity of disc jockeys, II Big II Fail is expanding their horizons and plans to perform original music at various indoor and outdoor festivals. On February 3, 2012, they will be playing a benefit performance at Sheridan’s in Andover for the Leenstra family. “During the hurricane, the Leenstra family lost their home due to flooding, their basement collapsed. So we are happy to do what we can to help them out. If people are interested in attending, they can call Sheridan’s for more information,” said Pedoto. The analyst in Pedoto believes that his enjoyment of creating music is derived from self-expression and projecting ideas. It creates an element of surprise that brings him happiness, he said. “I consider myself blessed to have two possible ways of earning a living; by teaching and relating to people," said Pedoto. "Playing music in front of people is great - there is no substitution for that. Whether we get paid or we don’t get paid-it doesn’t matter.” CLASSIC LENTILS 5 stalks of celery chopped 1 medium onion chopped 5 cloves of garlic or chopped 2 carrots grated 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes crushed 1 small can of tomato paste 1 large can of water (to start) 1/2 tablespoon oregano 1 tablespoon basil 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon red pepper 2/3 bag of lentils (boil this per directions on bag and set aside as they are added later) Cover the bottom of a large sauce pot with olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, then add onions. Cook three minutes and add celery, carrots, parsley, basil and oregano. Add salt and peppers (red and black). Cook for about eight minutes. If dry, add a bit more olive oil. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste and water. Let cook about one hour, watching it, and adding water as it reduces. Stir often without scraping the bottom of the pot. Taste it, and see if you need a bit more salt. Add boiled lentils to the mixture. Let it cook for 25 minutes. Serve the lentil mixture over a few cups of prepared rice.