I was blessed to grow up in a family with a mother and grandmothers who cooked “from scratch.” It was just the way they did things and I absorbed much of my cooking know-how from watching my mom put together meals and occasionally helping beyond licking the bowl.
My own cooking journey began at 12 years of age with an attempt at a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Everything looked fine until the cookies came out of the oven. Instead of the chewy cookies my mom would make, my cookies? Well, proverbially, they crumbled. We deduced I doubled everything except the flour. Lesson learned.
Since then, I’ve developed an approach to cooking which reflects the traditions I grew up with and knowledge gained through research and personal experience in the kitchen. As in most areas of my life, I’m very pragmatic. Therefore, I write my recipes in this same style. I do not sift flour. I condense steps where possible.
Yet I balance this pragmatism with a sense of adventure. I’m willing to take calculated risks, try new things and will often cook without measuring at all. This is why many of my recipes will give you a suggested range of measurements for your ingredients (e.g. 1-2 tsp. chili powder, 5-7 cloves garlic) so you can adapt them to your taste.
Finally, if you’re only beginning to learn how to cook without meat, dairy, sugar and refined products, stick with it. The way I cook drastically changed when I started eating a plant-based diet and it took months before I began to grow confident in putting a recipe together. My hope is for these recipes to give you solid start or ideas to freshen your old standbys.