I received Myra Goodman’s new cookbook galleys for The Earthbound Cook a few months ago, and it aced my cookbook test: when I’m going through a cookbook, I fold down the corners of recipes I want to go back and try. I must have dog-eared sixty pages. I think we’re kindred spirits, in that we both have the same sensibility when it comes to cooking: use simple, fresh ingredients in ways both novel and comforting-familiar.
I got the opportunity to ask Goodman some questions about her relationship to food, cooking, and cookbook creation.
1. What was your main goal when you decided to create this cookbook?
MYRA: I wanted to write a cook book that gets people excited about the pleasure of food as well as motivated by the power our food choices and preparation habits have to make a difference in our world. I have found so much joy in learning to cook for my family with great, fresh ingredients that were produced in ways that are healthier for us and for the planet and I wanted to share that with people. And I didn’t come from a background of cooking at my mother’s side – I grew up in a household in New York City where there was no home cooking at all.
2. What covered dishes do you recommend as good ones to make for a new mom (i.e. casseroles), or someone who is temporarily unable to cook?
MYRA: Soups are delicious, nourishing and easy to reheat so they work great as something to drop off for a friend in need. For comfort, I love Nan’s Tomato Rice Soup (page 4). My Winter Vegetable Soup (page 26) is extremely nutritious, with 10 different vegetables and lentils for protein – and it makes a huge pot (serves 10-12)!
Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie (page 87) can be made with beef as well as buffalo. My version adds porcini mushrooms and red wine with a Yukon Gold potato topping to make it especially flavorful.
I make the Chicken Green Olive Enchiladas (page 109) all the time and they are super quick and easy if you use a rotisserie chicken and store-bought enchilada sauce. For a vegetarian option, the Barley “Risotto” with Spinach and Mushrooms is wonderful. For a great breakfast or snack, my Oatmeal Carrot Apple Breakfast Squares [see recipe below] makes 12 delicious servings that keep well for days. Each serving has 8 grams of protein, 20 percent of your daily requirement for fiber, 100% of your vitamin A and 10% of your calcium.
3. What dishes do you recommend for potlucks?
MYRA: My favorite dish for a potluck is my Three Color Potato Salad (page 258). And I also love the Bulgur and Grilled Vegetable Salad – it’s delicious at room temperature, cold, or warm.
4. What do you recommend teaching to teens to give them a good foundation when it comes time to cook for themselves at college or in their first apartment?
MYRA: If you can teach your kids how to cook eggs in a few different ways, you’ll know they’ll never go hungry. When my 17-year old son is alone in the house, he makes himself anything from scrambled eggs to omelets with anything he can find, including cheese, ham, vegetables, etc.
My kids know how easy it is to make a healthy salad, especially since there are so many pre-washed salads available. Throw in some cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives, and add some chopped meat for an entrée. And if they have a bottle of olive oil and some nice vinegar, they’re always set to go.
Another thing my kids know how to do that’s very easy, is steaming and roasting vegetables (we just toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees till it’s done). They also know how fast and easy it is to cook a boneless chicken breast or a piece of fish on a cast iron skillet with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
5. Do you have a personal formula that you use to make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet? Do you feel laissez-faire about that, or do you plan meals with that in mind?
MYRA: I personally need balanced meals with some protein at every meal to keep my blood sugar stable. I also have a 17-year old son at home who plays football and lacrosse who also needs really well-balanced meals. And while I have a lot of vegetarian recipes in The Earthbound Cook, I enjoy meat. But what’s important to remember is that we actually need much less meat than we think to give us the protein we need, so I plan for the meat to be just about one-quarter of the meal, balanced with healthy complex carbohydrates and plenty of produce. And fresh fruit is always a go-to snack.
6. I am passionate about food and I love to cook. I’m so fascinated by new recipes and foods I haven’t tried before. I also find that it can be very easy for me to overindulge, just because my passion for food leads to being around more occasions that are tempting–delectable–you know
what I mean. How do you finesse that, or do you just have an amazing metabolism?
MYRA: I too love good food and love to eat and wish I could eat as much as I do and weigh ten pounds less (but I can’t)! Until recently, I struggled with food and was always dieting or counting calories to keep my weight in check. Giving up dieting has given me a healthier relationship with food, myself and my body. Now that I’m not fighting with the sense of depriving myself, I get much more enjoyment out of my food and I find that I overindulge a lot less.
When I know I’m going to be tempted to overeat, I am very conscious of eating more slowly, paying full attention to every bite. I also enjoy my food even more when it’s not only delicious, but it’s produced in a way that’s healthy for my body and the planet. I’m finding that I never want to eat more than a few potato chips, but I always want to eat every bit of a huge salad, when it’s full of fresh organic vegetables (people can never believe the size of the salads I can eat!).
7. Thanksgiving and the December holidays are coming up. What are some of your favorite tried-and-true recipes for those occasions?
MYRA: There are so many great holiday recipes in The Earthbound Cook.
Pumpkin and Winter Squash Pie (page 334) is the perfect holiday pie and it’s a comfortable variation on the classic pumpkin pie. And the Dried Cranberry and Pecan Tart (page 322) is another great holiday treat. The Pumpkin Stuffed with Quinoa, Butternut and Cranberries (page 185) is one of my favorite recipes. I like to cut four acorn squashes in half lengthwise and start them baking while I make the stuffing. There’s plenty of stuffing for all eight halves – then you finish cooking them after they’re stuffed. If you want a sweet side dish for your Thanksgiving table, the Yam and Winter Squash Casserole (page 232) is great. The topping has walnuts, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon for that wonderful holiday flavor.
* * *
And here’s a super-delicious recipe that I have personally tried out. I begged Myra to share it with us all, and she generously acquiesced.
You can snag yourself an autographed copy of Myra’s new cookbook at the Earthbound Farms eStore for $19.95. I am so buying a bunch as holiday presents : )
Oatmeal, Carrot, and Apple Breakfast Squares
Sarah LaCasse and I worked on this recipe for weeks, testing version after version until the result was a perfect breakfast square. Packed into every sweet and wholesome square are 8 grams of protein, 20 percent of your daily requirement for fiber, 10 percent of your calcium, and over 100 percent of your vitamin A. Buttermilk keeps the cake tender, carrots and apples add moisture, and walnuts and coconut combine for a crunchy topping. This recipe makes enough to feed a dozen, and the squares stay fresh and delicious for days. And although we call these “breakfast squares,” you may like them best as an afternoon or late-night snack.
Makes 12 squares
Butter, for greasing the baking dish
1¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats (see sidebar, page 307)
1½ cups (5 ounces) whole wheat pastry fl our
¼ cup ground flaxseeds (see box, page 288)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups (11¼ ounces) packed light brown sugar
²⁄³ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1½ cups low-fat buttermilk (see sidebar, page 371)
1½ cups grated peeled carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 cup grated peeled apples (2 medium apples)
2 cups walnut pieces
½ cup (2 ounces) unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup (scant 2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
2. Place the oats, fl our, flaxseeds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir to combine.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and the oil. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the buttermilk.
4. Add the oat mixture to the buttermilk mixture, and stir to combine. Add the carrots and apples, and stir just until blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish.
5. Place the walnuts, coconut, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir to blend, and sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the batter.
6. Bake the squares until the batter has set and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Then cut into 12 pieces. (The squares can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.)
Excerpted from The Earthbound Cook
Copyright 2010 by Myra Goodman
Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York
All Rights Reserved
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