You and Your Stove

January 20, 2022

My stove and I have the greatest time together.

When I smelled gas as I cooked one day, I thought it might be a good idea to call the gas company. The technician said it was a miracle that I had not blown up the house. I took that as a sign to buy a new stove. I was sad, truly sad to see my old stove taken away, but in her place was a shiny new piece of gas-fueled technology that made cooking positively dreamy.

I could simmer a sauce; really simmer it, on the lowest of heats. I could get a pan scorching hot. My oven was even…like, even! No matter where I placed cookies or cakes, they turned out perfectly baked every time. Life in the kitchen changed. I could focus on actual cooking and not on the…quirks of my stove.

On the other hand, I knew that stove. I knew its strengths and weaknesses, and I had cooked thousands of great meals on it. I had tested recipes for 3 books on that stove. I loved my new stove but I felt like I had lost a good friend as I watched my old one hauled from my kitchen.

And now my not so new stove is my right hand woman in my kitchen as I continue to cook; test recipes for a new book and TV series and nourish my family and friends. I love her as I have loved all my stoves.

Our stoves are as important as our knives and cutting boards.

So Now What?

Now that you’ll be looking at your stove (and kitchen) as your companions on this journey, what’s next? Every year, people set out to change their eating habits as the calendar changes to a new year. And if your resolutions last this long into the year, the experience has often turned out to be demoralizing at the very best as we struggle to find flavors we like and the balance we need.

It really, really, really doesn’t have to be that way.

Changing the way you think about food shouldn’t be some silly resolution we make year after year. We live in a pretty unhealthy food culture; no doubt about that. We are surrounded and indoctrinated by advertising for huge portions of processed junk food. We are told in ads that we’ll be happier, cooler and sexier…and have more friends if we eat more snacks, drink more booze and order it all for deliver in 30 minutes or less.

Anyone not reflecting on their food habits (at some point) usually end up with some pretty bad habits that are tough to break. I confess that when I travel in Italy, I mainline espresso! But when I return to my home and the reality of my working days, I rethink that habit and decide if several shots of espresso serve me in my life. If they don’t (they don’t…), I reduce my intake so I feel and function better.

I avoid resolutions at the end of the year. I find them self-defeating, like giving up chocolate for Lent (We were raised to do charity during those days. My mother thought that God cared more that we were good people than if we stopped eating sugar.) Each year, however, during these dark winter days, I dream of spring and take an inventory on my eating.

I confess that I don’t get caught up (anymore) in the virtual blizzard of conflicting information on what it means to eat a healthy diet. Vegan for 38 years, I think I know what works for me…and for my loved ones. And in the end, there’s really not much to be confused about, is there?

We needn’t worry about the details and stats of the latest studies. It has been crystal clear for decades now. Eat whole, unprocessed foods: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Animal products, if you choose them, are to be eaten in very small quantities. Michael Pollan said it best and his words still hold true: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Now most experts will agree that it’s nearly impossible to avoid processed foods completely and maybe that’s true. Processed foods are yummy…and packed with artificial ingredients that sound like they belong in lab, not in our food (and they do, I think). They also usually have many more calories than we suspect or want. So let’s keep those to a minimum, shall we?

The key to finding your way to a sustainable way of eating for wellness involves quality, quantity and…your stove. Diets are generally unsustainable, even counterproductive in some ways, leaving us often feeling like failures. They’re also so unpleasant and all encompassing. They become all we think about and all we talk about. I am of the belief that life is short and is meant to be enjoyed, not grimly endured.

So can we indulge our senses and live well and healthfully? Yup. That’s where your stove comes in. Sure, you have to head to the kitchen and cook your food. Sure, it’s a bit of work but what’s your health worth? Certainly more than a 30-minute delivery service can provide.

Look, take-out is fun. We love comfort, especially in these challenging times, but instead of eating like children and looking for comfort food, how about we cook to create strength, fortitude, a bangin’ immune system and delicious satisfaction?

My website offers you all such a wide array of yummy and easy to make recipes, that if you head there…I’ll warn you now. You’ll be plum out of excuses for not cooking delicious plant-passionate dishes to nourish yourself and all those you love.

Hang on; I have to go. My stove is calling…it’s time to cook. How about you? Share some of the great dishes you’re making these days. I love seeing what you guys are cooking.