We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.
Today: Winnie Abramson talks to us about eating well, in every sense of the word.
It's tempting, in conversations about health, to err on the side of extremes. Completely removing something from one's diet makes for more a dramatic pronouncement -- and a more succinct New Year's resolution -- than do vague promises to eat a little more leafy greens here, a little less cake there.
So when a nutrition expert tells us of her love for butter, red meat, and pie crust made with lard, we straighten up and listen.
That's one of many reasons we love Winnie Abramson. A longtime Food52er (check out her 102 recipes here), she's also a blogger at Healthy Green Kitchen, and the author of the recently published One Simple Change. Her writing focuses on the tiny steps one can take toward better living and -- here's the kicker -- it celebrates food. Winnie eats well, not only in the way that makes brain cells hum and hair glossy, but in a way that's nourishing and fun for her and her family. Read on to learn how she makes it all happen.
More: Get Winnie's winning recipe for Turkey Pho.
You write, "I see cooking much more as art (and magic) than as science, and I really believe it should be fun. If more people saw it that way -- instead of as a chore -- they'd be inclined to do it much more often." It's inspiring how you integrate food's aesthetic and communal joys with a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. How do you make cooking fun?
I realized a while back that I am not a person who enjoys cooking elaborate, complicated meals -- doing so adds unnecessary stress to my life (and takes up time I could spend doing other things I like to do). What is fun for me is making simple yet delicious meals that incorporate a wide variety of wholesome ingredients. I rarely make the same dish in the exact same way twice, because the ability to be creative and spontaneous really makes me happy in the kitchen.
Does having children change the way you put simple, healthy lifestyle changes into practice? How do you share your philosophy with your children?
I firmly believe that small habit changes can have a big impact on one's life. I also believe that "perfect should not be the enemy of the good." These themes run through my book and they definitely run through my life -- and the way I parent my children -- as well. I really try to lead by example: I work hard to model a balanced, sane relationship to things like food and exercise for my kids.
What's your favorite part of your kitchen? What about it speaks to you?
I love a lot of things about my kitchen, but my favorite part is probably the very large picture window overlooking my backyard that's above my sink (it's something we added to the house after we moved in). It fills the room with a lot of light. And being able to pause and gaze outside makes doing the dishes infinitely more enjoyable.
In your book, you talk about how you keep bees and raise chickens; you also give simple recipes for things like yogurt and nut milk. Beyond its practical benefits, what do you love about homesteading?
Though I do have a large garden and I keep chickens (sadly, my bees died), I don't really consider myself a homesteader since I am pretty far from self-sufficient (especially in the winter)! That said, I do really enjoy enjoy the eggs from our chickens and produce from our garden, and I love making things like yogurt at home because I can use raw milk from a nearby farm. I feel more connected to my food as a result of these practices.
Fill in the blank: "When I'm curled up on the couch at the end of a long week, I reach for ______ as my snack."
It's been a long and cold winter: I'd have to say a big mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream!