I have one word to sum up the past few years – Kuchisabishii. It’s Japanese for “eating when you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely.” My mouth would get so lonely starting in March 2020 so often that I gained 20 pounds of pandemic weight.
Is there a word for cooking when your heart is lonely?
Our kitchen, so often bustling with cooking classes, brunches, lunches or dinner parties, only partially revived last year. We’re lucky to be able to spend loads of time with my beautiful mother in Florida; I am profoundly grateful. Mike and I rang in 2022 with mom, toasting with Veuve Clicquot at midnight while watching Betty White’s skits on SNL. (RIP Betty. I will always love you.) This year for the first time since 2019, we invited friends to get together at our house on Anna Maria Island. We feasted on tenderloin from the grill and toasted guests who ranged from seven to 62.
This past year was better for us as a society, but tough for me personally. I was diagnosed with a toxic and potentially fatal bacterial infection in my gut. I ended up on antibiotics for nearly seven months. Meanwhile, to try to heal my gut, I had to (mostly) give up drinking coffee, alcohol, sugar and overhauling my diet. Starting in September, I was able to start eating more normally, but I learned a lot about rebuilding my microbiome, the subject of my next non-fiction book. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy thinking about how to eat healthier, particularly adding in good things for your microbiome. I’ve been quietly updating pages throughout the site. I’ll be posting more about this in the coming weeks. I will also be (finally!) launching online cooking classes in February.
Do your resolutions include eating better?
So, let’s start with the cooking and teaching part. If you’ve made resolutions that involve improving your diet, losing weight, etc. here’s something for you. Below are links to a few video lessons and primers that may be helpful to you if your resolutions include cooking more, eating better and saving money — all are good things to aim for, right?
▪ Knife Skills
▪ How to Make Vinaigrette
▪ How to Make Vegetable Stock
▪ How to Cook in Parchment
▪ A Cheat Sheet to Flavor Profiles
▪ Quick Guide to Herbs & Spices
▪ Basics of Soup Making
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you
Start the year by knowing what’s actually lurking in your kitchen. Take everything out of each and every one of your cupboards, your fridge and freezer. Clear out expired stuff, junk food and the stuff you’ll just never use. In your fridge, post a photo of your favorite thing – your children, your husband, your dog, whatever. Make a point to never fill your fridge so stuffed that you can’t see it. Research shows that an emptier fridge leads to weight loss. “Eat down” your fridge, shop more often. More on this process.
Eat Better for Same Money by Wasting Less Food
If you want to eat better but not spend more, here’s a simple tactic: waste less food. The average American household wastes about 30% of all the food they purchase. No one would throw a $5 bill in the trash, but if you toss that lovely bunch of organic beets, it’s the same thing.
A couple of tips: when you bring home your produce, get out some post-it notes. Write down the price of that broccoli ($3) and put it right on the broccoli or the bag holding it. Do the same for all your fruit, vegetables, dairy or anything perishable. Then, when you go to throw out that item, collect that post-it with the others. Do this for a month. How much did you waste?
To learn more about the impact of food waste, I highly recommend the book Wasted Food by Jonathan Bloom.
Join my crew of recipe testers!
Bad cooks welcome! To join my league of recipe testers, send me an email and I’ll send you the “secret” page for my Fearless Friends, and the password.
I post new recipes regularly, and ask testers to simply fill out surveys afterward. I sometimes get in touch to ask you more questions. I give away gifts and get to know my testers, so don’t be shy!