Whether you're a hobby chef or a parent attempting to get dinner on the table each night, you've likely heard of smitten kitchen and the genius behind it, Deb Perelman. Through her blog and in her book, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb offers beautiful, scrumptious recipes with stunning step-by-step photography and easily-followed instructions, peppered with humor throughout that inspires even the most entry-level cook to turn out something special.
As she says, "What I love in cooking is when you're flipping through a cookbook and you're not hungry, you're not even remotely in the mood to cook, but there's something that you see that's so good, you want to drop the book (um, please buy it maybe too?) and run to the grocery store."
Emerald Doulas was recently able to chat with Deb about her life in the kitchen as both a food aficionado, and as a mother. Below you'll find our questions to Deb in bold, and her answers in italics.
How did cooking change for you after having children?
It became a lot more practical and not always as fun. It used to be almost exclusively for enjoyment. Because we live in NYC and you can get any food at any time, there's little reason to cook unless there's something you really want to make. So, we only made what we really wanted to make. Needless to say, that doesn't cut it when it's time to pack lunch boxes! One of the themes I'm coming back to again and again in my second cookbook is how to keep the fun parts of cooking, hopefully through a collection of recipes we'll all be really excited to dive into.
What is your go to meal or snack as a mom with a new baby?
Granola/breakfast bars are pretty great and they freeze well and defrost very quickly at room temperature or in the fridge. I have an almond-date breakfast bar in my first book, a really over-the-top (but always well-received) one on the site and also a slightly more lunchbox-friendly one (no gluten or dairy, but yesss to chocolate chunks).
What do you do about picky eaters?
Ignore them. :) I think it's important to just keep cooking the food you were going to cook anyway in hopes that the kid will adapt to the way you eat and not vice-versa; Just Say No to becoming a short-order cook. In practice, I'm not always so mean. I'll leave the Sriracha out of dish because I don't have the kind of 6 year-old who likes hot sauce (yet!) and I'll try to make sure there's one un-scary thing on the table --- i.e. last night, we had grilled zucchini, which my son doesn't like, so we also had grilled pitas and roasted sweet potatoes (his favorite) with the chicken. That said, I'm becoming aware more and more of how good of an eater my son is for the most part. My 11 month-old... it's early but she already seems to have a keen disinterest in 90% of foods so I might have to adjust this soon.
What does your work/life balance look like? (Do you even like that term at all?)
I hate that term, mostly because nobody ever asks my husband the same. I don't believe in it either; I think if we strive for balance, we're always going to be disappointed. Instead, I strive for re-balancing, or more of a long view of balance, this idea that of course there are going to be weeks where we have no time for home-cooked meals but we can compensate the next week. There are weeks I'm working way too much, I try to adjust this on a week I can.
Did you make your babies' First Birthday cake, (or did you ever "phone it in"?) Make us all feel better!
I mean, of course I do. I love it. Do I think everyone should be obligated to make a Pinterest-ready birthday cake? That's ridiculous, especially if baking doesn't spark any joy for you. That said, don't look at Pinterest! Nobody cares if the cake is perfect or coated in 8 shades of fondant molded into a truck -- none of this stuff improves taste. Nothing says love more than a lopsided, unprofessionally frosted actually delicious cake and if anyone tells you otherwise, it's time for new friends.
Link us to your top 3 recipes for busy families (or recipes that perhaps say, a postpartum doula could make for a new family):
Tell us a bit about your book! You have a new one in the works too right?
I'm currently testing recipes for my second cookbook which will be out in Fall 2017. As I mentioned up top, there's definitely a theme of trying to figure out how to keep the daily routine of cooking from feeling like drudgery. Or, like nothing but compromise. There is nothing wrong with throwing chicken cutlets in a slow-cooker with a jar of salsa and shredding it over tacos, but you don't need me to tell you how to make this. What I love in cooking is when you're flipping through a cookbook and you're not hungry, you're not even remotely in the mood to cook, but there's something that you see that's so good, you want to drop the book (um please buy it maybe too?) and run to the grocery store. It's not always going to be practical for a weekday night but I do hope it will lead you to dishes that become your new favorite thing to cook.