The Birth of Vegan Family Meals, Real Food For Everyone
Six years ago when my first cookbook was published, I was adamant that this book was going to be my one and only. I thought then that I had said everything I needed to say and what more could there be. Time, reflection, wisdom, two kids, eating at home as a family, new recipe ideas, getting simpler and ‘cleaner’ about what I eat and feed my family all contributed to the genesis of a new cookbook.
My first cookbook, The Real Food Daily Cookbook is a restaurant cookbook sharing relatively elaborate vegan recipes downsized for home use. Restaurant recipes often have many steps, components, and lots of ingredients and have an army of prep people who can produce a wide variety of creative dishes. In my first book, I told my personal story about how I got into this crazy culinary business and even more rewarding I shared the story of how RFD was birthed.
Over the last few years, I found myself cooking more at home and enjoying re-visiting recipes I hadn’t made in years as well as whipping up new ones. Slowly the idea of a writing another cookbook started to feel like a possibility. I also thought I had something to say as a busy working mother because I struggle with the same day-to-day challenges everyone else has: juggling work, kids, grocery shopping, exercise and trying to squeeze in time for myself. Food wise, I’ve learned to stick with a plant-based diet, especially when cooking at home. Whole grains and vegetables are relatively simple to prepare, always accessible and very economical.
As I pondered what to say in a second book, I started looking at other cookbooks to see what attracted me and what didn’t. I also talked to many home cooks about what kind of vegan cookbook they might want to have in their collection. In looking at books, I got turned off by the ones that pushed and sold the tenet: ‘fast, quick and easy should be the goal in a preparing meals. Just as equally, I felt frustrated hearing the misconception that healthy cooking means you spend all day long in the kitchen. I don’t know who started that rumor, as that has never been my experience. Time is precious but even more importantly; your good health is priceless. Spending time in the kitchen preparing good food for yourself is well worth it.
These were the motivators that encouraged me to write a second cookbook. I spent six intense months about five days a week moving back and forth from my relatively small funky kitchen to my dining room table. I have this nine-foot walnut dining room table where I set up shop. Lots happened in that corner, thank goodness for the two windows and the beautiful fig tree outside. I watched the figs bud and grow as a summer ended. Like any creative process, I went through a whirlwind of emotions, dramatic and as I look back now, silly and funny. The result is a book that contains simple vegan recipes with approachable ingredients and techniques accessible for all kinds of eaters.
What’s interesting is the book didn’t start out as a family cookbook. The initial plan was to continue on my theme of ‘real food.’ The family theme organically grew out of the experience of making the book. My kids were my tasters and boy were they ever picky, and relatives and friends who showed up weighed in on which dishes they liked best and why. My editor suggested using family in the title. We had many conversations about the V word, talking about whether vegan be in the title. In the end, Vegan Family Meals felt right. I consider your family to be whoever gathers around your table regularly, whether kids, friends, or neighbors. And if you are just cooking for you, YOU too are worth the same attention and care you give everyone else!
June 15 is the publication date for Vegan Family Meals. Both my kids were born four years apart on this day, June 15 – This is an auspicious day every year in my world.