On our last afternoon in New York last week, I sat on a bench in Union Square with our book editor. Justin, who has become a good friend, opened a large envelope and pulled out something as a surprise.
“It’s your paperback,” he said. Danny and I both gasped.
We’ve been so busy working on our next cookbook the one that comes out in April that we had almost forgotten. Our first cookbook is now out in paperback.
We’re still proud of this cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. For me, it’s a treasured memento, a flip through time of the first years of our lives together, in recipes like white beans slow simmered in olive oil and rosemary, smoked salmon and tomato napoleon, warm rice salad with avocados and roasted chicken, and fennel-cherry salad with basil. Every recipe not only reminds me of the first time Danny and I ate those foods together, but they also remind me of the first few months of Lucy’s life. We created those dishes in the kitchen of our house in Seattle, with her sitting in her bouncy chair, far away from the stove. Whenever we finished a dish, we put it under her nose, to smell all that food and love we created. (The other day, she smelled a pasta dish with pesto and said, “Mama, this definitely has basil in it.”) Those were porous, exhausted, wonderful days.
So I love this cookbook as a memory for me. But Danny and I both still feel proud of it. There’s so much food in there that’s great for celebrations, dinner parties, and meals you want to make with the people you love. Should you need a gift for the holidays, may we suggest this cookbook?
Oh! And I forgot to mention that we have updated all the baked goods recipes in this book to give you directions for using psyllium instead of xanthan or guar gum, in case you cannot tolerate much of the gums, like me.
(Also, I’ve heard from a number of you that you still haven’t bought the book because of its hardback price. If you buy the paperback on Amazon, it’s only $13.59. That’s a deal!)
As much as I am proud of our first cookbook, I have to share this: I’m really in love with the one that’s coming out in April. Gluten-Free Girl Every Day.
It really is an everyday cookbook. The recipes for this book were created from daily practice. Where the recipes from our first book came from Danny’s memory of dishes he made at restaurants across his career, the recipes in our new book were inspired by making dinner for our family. It’s a big difference.
I wanted to call this book Feeding Lucy. For marketing reasons, we had to stick with Gluten-Free Girl. I understand. But I still think of it as Feeding Lucy, to tell you the truth. You see, Danny and I no longer have meals at midnight, the way we once did. We don’t experiment with new sauces and complicated preparations on Sunday afternoons, with nothing else to do but slow dance in the kitchen between courses. These days, there’s a small child tugging on my leg, saying, “Mama, I’m so very hungry, right now.” There’s nothing more urgent than a kid who wants to be fed.
The food in Gluten-Free Girl Every Day is how we eat now. And it’s how we’re going to be eating for years to come. It’s food made in season, based on a well-stocked pantry. (We’ll share with you what’s in our cupboards and the refrigerator in our house.) It’s filled with great vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and interesting proteins. Some of the dishes have meat. Some don’t. We eat meals based in flavors from around the globe smoked paprika, fish sauce, and berbere mix to show our daughter that people eat differently around this world. These spices and herbs also make the simple preparations feel more complex in the tasting than they are in the making.
It’s not a book that promises dinner will be ready in less than 20 minutes and use fewer than four ingredients. This is still real cooking. This time, however, it’s smarter cooking. We make a big pot of whole grains, like brown rice or millet, and freeze the leftovers in 2-cup portions. Time for dinner? Pull out some cold brown rice and make a quick fried rice with bok choy, bacon, and mushrooms. We make bigger portions to freeze later for leftovers the next week. We spend part of Sunday afternoons simmering a big pot of beans until they’re creamy, whisking together a ponzu sauce or packing lemons, salt, and sugar into a clear jar for quick preserved lemons the next week, and thinking about the dinners we might want to make with the haul from the farmers’ market that day. There’s nothing too fancy. Nothing too complicated. Just good food, meant to be shared together.
This is a cookbook for busy families who still love to cook.
We had a wonderful set of friends and family members who advised us during the making of this cookbook. They are people who love to cook but don’t cook nearly as often as we do. (At this point, it would be hard to find friends who cook as often as we do. We never stop.) They helped us to see practical solutions to problems in the kitchen. Mostly, how to make use of not-that-much time. My brother actually came up with the structure of the book. I told him how Danny and I planned to write a book based on kinds of ingredients. The beans chapter! The dark greens chapter! He looked at me and said, “I don’t cook that way. I don’t think about an ingredient first. I think about the kind of dinner I want to make.”
You see, we all want to feed our kids as well as we can. And of course, we want that food to be healthy to help them grow. But after a few nights of roasted chicken, quinoa, and a vegetable, life at the table can grow a little boring.
And so, our book is organized like this: each chapter is a different strategy for getting dinner on the table. There’s a stir-fry chapter, based on the hundreds of stir-fries made in that wok up there. (You want a lot of vegetables, a lot of taste, and not much time? This is your method.) There’s a breaking-down-a-chicken chapter, where we show you how to use every single part of the chicken, including the bones, to make great meals for days. There’s the one-pot wonder chapter, the pasta chapter, the meat chapter, the grilling chapter, and the rice and beans chapter. In the buffet chapter, we show you how we learned to fill the table with little bowls and saucers of ingredients and let the kids make their own plates. (Nothing makes my 9-year-old picky nephew happier than a taco bar where he can pluck cheese from a ramekin to finish his own taco.) We’ll share the 2 or 3 recipes that make a difference when you make them from scratch - homemade corn tortillas, carnitas, and pickled carrots - and which ones are fine to get at the grocery store.
I might like the breakfast-for-dinner chapter best. Biscuits and sausage gravy, anyone?
Of course, I’m also partial to the desserts chapter.
I really wish I could give you this book right now.
For now, however, we need your help.
You see, we were blessed to work with Penny Des Los Santos on this book. (I told you a little about the photo shoot with her and her team last year, where you can see some of the dishes from the book.) Her photographs are unbelievable. Wait until you see this book.
We had several ideas for the cover of Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. The marketing team dwindled them down to these two. The one on the left is a grilled salmon with a grilled lemon-bok choy-jalapeno relish. The one on the right is a whole-grain millet waffle with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and capers. Both dishes were a huge hit with the photography crew. Tell you the truth, we can’t go wrong with either of these covers. But we’d love to know from you - which one do you like best? Which one would make you pick up the book?
We just can’t wait to share this book with you.