Why You Don’t Need a Book to Cook

February 23, 2023

Cooking has gotten a bad rap in the past decades. From Betty Friedan to talk show hosts telling women that they’re better than the kitchen, we have moved away from this sacred space (yes, you read right; sacred) at such a level that it seems like a novelty to go back into the room that literally gives life. The result of this culture of not cooking (for all of us…) means that we have lost touch with the primal instinct that is the art of nourishing ourselves properly.

Now, in the world of social media; in the world of sharing and posting; in a post-pandemic, post-sourdough bread baking frenzy, recipes rule. But do they? Sure, they give us guidelines or parameters for cooking so that we understand how ingredients interact with each other. But after a fashion, don’t recipes kill our creativity and our ability to tap into our intuition?

I think it’s time that we set recipes aside; master kitchen techniques and ingredients’ flavors and textures to not just cook, but to create dishes and meals that reflect who we are and where we are in our little worlds and in the big world around us.

For me, setting recipes aside (and I write recipes for my living, so go figure) is the single most liberating thing you can do in the kitchen. Do I still own cookbooks? Hundreds of them, literally…hundreds of them. I use them all the time for inspiration; for guidance when I am unsure of an ingredient in a new recipe I might be working on. But I confess that I can’t remember the last time I followed a recipe line for line.

My goal for you is to set you up to cook; not read recipes and emulate the chef/author’s intent. The goal is to have you develop your kitchen intuition and just cook…

Just cook.

But before you dismiss me as an arrogant chef who has no idea how people struggle in the kitchen, let me clear that right up for you. I have taught cooking for almost thirty years so I think I have a pretty good idea of how people move in the kitchen; feel about the kitchen and function in the kitchen. I have heard most of the questions and calmed a lot of fears. I have answered the call for “Recipe please” more times than I can count on my social media.

And no, your lentil soup (or whatever…) won’t taste like mine; it will taste like yours.

My hope for you always is to take all my experience and hand it to you so that you can achieve calm in the kitchen and look forward to the luscious act of cooking. It’s high time that stress was set aside and your kitchen personality allowed to shine forth as you create yummy dishes for your loved ones and for you.

And of course, you know that my advice, my pantry, my cooking will be plant-passionate and vegan because that’s my lens on the world. Can you make one of my dishes on the side of a chicken breast? While I hope you don’t (for a myriad of reasons that run the gamut of the chicken’s health and wellness to yours and ultimately that of the planet), of course you can. You can use any guidelines I give as you see fit to create your style of cooking and eating.

However…however, while I know that we live in a meat-centric world, it’s time we stopped thinking of plant-passionate eating as a consolation prize. It’s time to think of eating to serve the purpose of your life and day to day wellness as winning the lottery. Plant-passionate eating provides everything we need (and even what we have been conditioned to think we need), from protein to every…single…vitamin and mineral we can imagine. Mother Nature takes very good care of us, even though we are like spoiled children who take and take, giving little back to her in return.

I am asked all the time about what I eat; yes, even in this day and age, when vegan eating has emerged from the shadows into the light of mainstream awareness. My answer is always the same. It’s easier for me to explain what I don’t eat than what I do as the list of what I eat is extensive and varied.

Simply stated, I don’t eat anything that is derived from an animal. That leaves a lot of choices for food, my friends.

Not eating meat, dairy, eggs, poultry, fish or any variation on these, along with any products that contain animal-derived ingredients is the easiest choice I have made in my life. Thank God I did it when I was young; thank God I did it when I was young. I have had many years to explore and create in this wonderful, healthy, nutritionally balanced lifestyle.

And now I hope, no matter where you are in your life, that you can open your mind and explore this wonderful lifestyle too.