What Home Cooking Looks Like

November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment


A little while back I heard Sara Moulton interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. In case you don’t know about Sara, she worked at Gourmet Magazine for 25 years, has hosted various cooking shows, and worked with Julia Child. No big deal.

One thing she said really stuck with me–having worked in restaurants, when it came time to write cookbooks for the home cook, she had to break down what was different about restaurant cooking and home cooking.

A big difference was that most home cooks don’t do mise en place (where you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go). We chop the vegetables while the pasta or rice is cooking, or we make the salad dressing while the main dish is in the oven. We are economical with our time, because cooking is a part of our life, and for many of us a particularly joyful part of our life, but not our only responsibility.

honey herb vinaigrette

Home cooking is fluid. We use up leftovers and add ingredients to an existing dish to stretch it throughout the week. I find the resourcefulness and creativity involved in home cooking to be satisfying and grounding.

tomato curry soup

This week embodied this type of cooking for me. I had done a good amount of cooking over the weekend, but not quite enough to get me through breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week. So I got creative and mixed and matched what was in my fridge. In particular, I turned a jar of homemade dressing, a few avocados, a can of chickpeas, kale pesto, and caramelized onions into many, many meals. Here’s how this week went food-wise, in hopes that it helps you feel inspired by (and not entirely bored by the minutiae of) the possibilities of home cooking.

Last Thursday:

Can’t decide what to eat for dinner, I’m hungry but have no strong cravings. Curly kale in the fridge, but not much else. Whip up a double batch of this dressing for a kale salad with toasted walnuts, defrost a bagel out of the fridge, and top it with half an avocado and some scrambled eggs.


Cooking marathon while Sam watches football. Make this cauliflower apple soup, and kale pesto and caramelized onions for this pizza.


Get home from running errands around 3 pm and MUST.EAT.LUNCH. Open up a can of chickpeas and toss a quick salad together with the dressing from Thursday, a bag of Italian salad mix from Trader Joe’s, the other half of the avocado from Thursday, the remaining kalamata olives that didn’t make it onto the pizza, and some cashews. Also, leftover pizza.


Desk lunch: cauliflower apple soup with leftover kale pesto and caramelized onions (I made more toppings than I needed for the pizza) swirled in, plus the same salad from Sunday.


Desk lunch: can’t possibly eat more cauliflower apple soup. Instead, pull this spicy tomato soup out of the freezer and stir in some of the chickpeas and slices of avocado. Becomes more of a chickpea dish than a soup, which I am perfectly happy about.


Desk lunch: Oh hello cauliflower apple soup, I’m ready for you again, with kale pesto and caramelized onions stirred in.


Desk lunch: The rest of the defrosted spicy tomato soup plus chickpeas, plus english muffin with kale pesto and smashed avocado.


Desk lunch: The very last of the apple cauliflower soup with the last few chickpeas and kale pesto swirled in.

Now, time to do it all over again!



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