IT HAS ALL THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS TO TEMPT ME: A well-stocked pantry of whole foods; a vegetarian approach; an author as seductive with her keyboard and camera as with her combinations of flavors, colors and textures. So when my copy of 101 Cookbooks [dot] com creator Heidi Swanson’s latest volume of recipes arrived this week, I dug in—and then quickly bought two more copies of “Super Natural Every Day” to share with you (details on how to win at the bottom of the jump page).
If you have not “met” Heidi, she lives, cooks, and writes in San Francisco, where she began 101 Cookbooks in early 2003. It quickly grew into one of the most-visited food blogs, with a look and approach that’s at once ultra-modern and old-style homey, not unlike the food she prepares.
Heidi won’t proselytize or badger with her vegetarian philosophy in her book or online, but rather draws you into a happy day of Yogurt Biscuits or a handsome Frittata of seasonal produce and goat cheese, with a stop perhaps at Chanterelle Tacos—use any mushroom you like—along the way to a savory supper (Stuffed Tomatoes loaded with couscous, or Weeknight Curry with a splash of coconut milk, anyone?). These are recipes that take only a couple of short paragraphs to explain, yet feel spectacular.
Following up on her James Beard Award-nominated 2007 book “Super Natural Cooking,” the new “Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes From My Natural Foods Kitchen” is about eating well in our daily lives, breakfast through supper.
THERE ARE SNACKS, drinks and sweets, too—Ginger Cookies with dried apricots and shaved chocolate; Buttermilk Cake laden with plums and lemon zest—but none is fussy. The only reason I haven’t made the Baked Oatmeal (left) from the breakfast chapter is that I fear I would eat the whole thing myself in one sitting, so I’m waiting for a brunch guest, though it looks like dessert to me.
Eggs are not just included in Heidi’s cuisine; they’re celebrated, whether hard-cooked and crumbled into the Broccoli Gribiche (roasted potatoes, capers, mustard, red wine vinegar) or the main event, like a herbed Open-Faced Egg Sandwich. So are high-quality dairy products such as yogurt and hard cheeses, like the parmesan shaved on top of the book’s cover dish: White Beans and Cabbage (with potatoes and shallots in the mix).
You’ll hear no talk of “meat substitutes,” but rather of savoring soy products and beans for their own distinct and delightful natures. Listen to Heidi on beans, for instance:
“I like to get to know each individual type of bean, and when I’m trying a new one I prepare it simply, so I can acquaint myself with its unique flavor, texture, and personality.”
Or her confession about her “mad collection” of spices: “My spice drawer is the one part of my kitchen I’m powerless to keep under control.”
Like I said, seductive; there is a sensualist behind these recipes, right down to the creamy-versus-dry aspect that distinguishes a single bean from another.
After dessert, an entire section called Accompaniments rounds out this beautiful book, offering the supporting techniques (from a perfect poached egg to how to cook whole grains and beans) along with the “simple sauces, drizzles and toppings” that are Heidi signatures.
Warning: After a few days with “Super Natural Every Day” I am off to add to my spice collection. The pantry will be just a little fuller thanks to Heidi Swanson, and the house figures to smell a little bit like a certain apartment in San Francisco at mealtime.
in the blood: of photography and pantries
I SUPPOSE WHAT DRAWS ME to feeling a kinship with Heidi most of all is that pantry, and how strongly I identify with it. I never feel quite right unless I have all my staples on hand; a well-stocked pantry is the foundation of my home and my health. The kitchen of my parents’ house, in a funny old-fashioned structure, had a big pantry closet with a tall ceiling; my grandmother’s did, too. You needed a stool to reach the top shelves.
And then it’s probably the camera thing: I discovered here that Heidi’s father, like mine, had a Nikon SLR that went everywhere with them, and that she, too, took a photography elective in her freshman year of college. Maybe brimming pantries and Nikon-toting fathers are the things that turn young women into longtime vegetarians and bloggers? I don’t know, but Heidi’s new “Super Natural Every Day” has all the right ingredients for the contemporary cook of any lineage.
how to win the a copy of heidi’s book
TO WIN ONE OF TWO COPIES of “Super Natural Every Day,” tell me about your pantry, whether a single shelf or an entire room. Do you have a “mad collection” of spices, too, or anything else you’d care to reveal, lurking in there?
I’ll pick two winners at random using random [dot] org after entries close at midnight next Friday, April 15.
You know me: I understand some readers are shy and just want to say “Count me in,” or “I want to win.” That’s fine—but if you feel comfortable, tell us about that pantry, won’t you? Good luck to all.
more, more, more
- Try the book’s recipes: There’s a six-recipe sampler on Heidi’s site.
- The cover dish recipe, White Beans and Cabbage, interpreted by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.
- The recipe for Baked Oatmeal, interpreted by Lottie and Doof.
- In her own words: What Heidi says about her new book.
- Meet Heidi: Her “about” page.
- Buy the book now: “Super Natural Every Day.“
Notes: Photo credit: Heidi Swanson © 2011
(And: Federal regulations require me to say that should you shop via links to Amazon on my site, I will receive a small royalty on purchases. I use this money to buy more books to give away, like the ones in this contest.)
That custom pantry sounds great to me! Mine is a simple 6 foot long, floor to ceiling cabinet with 2 double doors in the utility room with the laundry & freezer. It stores lots of canned & dry goods. It’s handy to the garage door when coming in with the bags of groceries.
Heidi’s book sounds great! super natural is the way to go. We are gravitating that way more and more. We now cook our steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, and my favorite new discovery is Greek yohgurt. So rich and creamy. I see that she uses oats and yohgurt in her recipes. Right in line with what we like to eat.
. This book would just be the icing on the cake! What a great way to get started down this new path of great health though great food!! After living for years with the chronic pain of arthritis,I moved to CA to live with daughter. Hooked up with a Chinese Doctor a regular MD (Dr Wu at www. wuway.com) but even more so a Master of Oriental Medicene who started the Pacific Complimentary Medicene Center in Stockton, CA. Most practitioners there are vegetarian or some form of it. I have learned so much through their free educational classes and through my accupuncturist Dorel Rotar I feel like a new person.Eat so much better going towards vegetarian and hopefully influencing daughter and grandson. No longer take BP/cholesterol meds. Could hardly walk a year ago at only 70yrs of age my daughter and I are just finishing up a blocked 35ft raised bed garden. Yes I am tender sometimes sore at the end of the day, but relax a bit and do my yoga. And what yoga moves I can do fore even getting out of bed in morning. 70years, why that is just a # now!!! And I plan to keep it so. Why I am a new woman!!!! So on my way to check out Heidi’s blog. Thanks for sharing it with us!! It’ll probably be right up there with yours,a daily ritual!
I have so enjoyed reading these comments…fellow foodies, unite! Having recently downsized to a duplex in an old house, my entire KITCHEN is the size of a pantry! That did not stop me from bringing my entire collection of cookbooks, pots and baking pans, and several cabinets of spices and flavorings! I just incorporate them into the other small rooms…along with my mother’s (recently inherited) recipes and cookware utensils…such wonderful memories as I use each one.
The smaller indoor quarters are a tradeoff for larger yards now being planted into vegetables and herbs, berries, perennials, ferns and native woodland shrubs for the birds…because my human children have gone on to their own busy lives, my cats and shepherd/husky mix dog are now enjoying many leftovers to supplement their regular pet foods! I’m sure we’re ALL eating more healthy this way!
My pantry is very small and my grocery stores are very close. I shop frequently and only stock 1 of my most commonly used items. No stocking up allowed once the pantry is full. I hate spill over.
Every year I do this. I’ve been cleaning my kitchen for Passover. Although I’ve always celebrated Passover, I’ve not really done the requisite cleaning until the past 10 years.
It’s a good time to clean out the schmutz-both literally and figuratively. This year I found some ginger conserves and apricot chutney-both opened months and months ago and then pushed to the back of the fridge shelf. I also found a can of black eye peas that I need to figure out what to do with. And I look back over the year and think how there are some folks I could have been more patient with and some I could have reached out to more.
At the end of the Passover Seder, we say “Next year in Jerusalem.” I don’t take this literally, but next year to grow and be the person I want to be–to reach my Jerusalem.
B y the way-I read Heidi’s blog and use her wonderful recipes.
My pantry is one of my best friends. I love the idea of having ingredients at hand to cook up anything. Perhaps the oddest thing I have is Sichuan peppercorns from before they were banned, years ago. I had the funniest time looking for them at one of Southern California’s fabulous Asian markets. I didn’t speak Cantonese, and my helper didn’t speak English, but she helped me find the elusive ingredient for a dish I cannot remember 25 years back, or so. I misplaced the jar and when looking for them online, learned that they had been banned from import. We moved to New England last winter, and lo and behold, the Sichuan peppercorns resurfaced. They must have heard the ban was lifted :)! Enjoy your tomato seeds today dear Margaret.
I have a linen cupboard that I use as a pantry. It is stocked full of bulk bin items. Dry beans and grains. I have them in mason jars for the most part. I love the down homey look. And I love the way they look with their varying degrees of fullness. It charms me.
COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED. Thank you all — what a fantastic story of the 21st century American pantry in all its incarnations … with some great trips into pantries past, and dreams of pantries future.
I am also thrilled to “meet” so many first-time commenters in the process — normally I welcome each new commenter personally, but if I did so in these giveaways I’s certainly have more comments than anyone…and win the books myself. :) So welcome each of you and please don’t let this be your only visit. See you again soon?
Will email the two randomly selected winners now…cross your fingers!
Count me in!
I have two shelves in a large cabinet that serve as a pantry. I would love to have more space but we live in a very small house. My husband has a spice collection that is overflowing the single shelf he is alloted. The bottles are stacked two high so it is a pretty extensive collection.
Thank you Margaret for your special website…I love it.