giveaway: heidi swanson's ‘super natural’ recipes

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

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.)

  1. Candace says:

    Only one word to describe me when it comes to my food and pantry. “Squirrel”

    As a vegetarian I eat a lot of legumes, grains and pasta which I stock in large quantity and display in jars of various sizes and shapes on the shelves in my kitchen. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wyldmoon/5613334083/in/photostream

    I deal with my wide assortment of herbs and spices in a similar fashion on another wall. I derive such satisfaction in knowing my pantry is full and in gazing upon my jars of dried goods and preserves that I have to remind myself to eat it all up so it can all be replaced next fall when my garden is in full production. I love to feeling that I have the the potential to create almost anything when everything is fully stocked.

    BTW love your blog and was totally jealous when I heard your first frog appeared and my landscape was still encapsulated in snow and ice! I guess that is only to be expected living here in the Laurentians (sigh). Good news is that I saw the first wood frog in my pond yesterday!

  2. ayo says:

    @jane in CT — I am so jealous! My husband and I had to ask for help to assemble an IKEA cabinet—Your custom-designed pantry will live in my pipe dreams!

  3. Jan says:

    My pantry is filled with alot of wonderful Southern treasures, but I’m in the process
    of learning to cook a little healthier….less meat, more fruits & vegtables. So I have discovered some new foods and spices(gonna need a bigger pantry). I love cookbooks and could really use this one.

  4. Martina Pet says:

    I want to win! As for my story – I’m obsessed with cinnamon. I currently have just 5 types, but there have been times when it’s a much higher number. My crowning achievement was scoring a 2lb tub of the softest, finest, most lovely cinnamon from one of the suppliers from the restaurant where I was a baker for several years. I still have some and even tho it’s old now (tho I prefer the term “aged well”), there are still some recipes it rocks in.

  5. Andrea says:

    My mother and I share a pantry on wire shelving in the basement where we’ve amassed quite a stash of canned goods, spices, dressings, and all kinds of staples. It’s like our own little secret supermarket. When my husband and I moved in with my parents, it was fun to see what spices she had that I didn’t have. And I had a few “more exotic” spices she’d never heard of. We’ve learned a lot from cooking together.

  6. Therese says:

    I have Heidi’s first book which I love and want to win the second one! I have a couple of pantries; one is a cheery room off my kitchen where I keep another freezer, the washer and dryer and open shelves full of pretty glass storage jars with baking basics, lots of sugars, flours, grains, beans, etc. The walls are wood painted a creamy off white as are the open shelves and the top of the walls that extend to the ceiling are sunny yellow. Off another door from the kitchen is a coat closet that just last winter I cleared out, built shelves from top to bottom and painted the whole interior a french blue and the shelves are stocked with more staples for cooking and baking; it’s pretty to look at and full of yumminess. My huge inventory of spices is stored in a cupboard with a pull down door in an antique glass doored cabinet next to my brick hearth.

  7. Jennifer R says:

    I have quite a few spices but find myself turning to the same few, time and time again. Among those few that reign supreme? Cinnamon, cayenne, and cumin. Wonderful giveaway! I’ve read Heidi’s blog for a while now and would love to win her cookbook.

  8. Crystal says:

    Since the previous owners of our house used what we’d consider the pantry as a broom closet without shelves, our pantry is spread among a few cabinets: a pair with baking goods and staples, one in the corner with teas and locally roasted coffee, and another with almost as many spices and blends as our area spice shop carries. These spots make me smile — they’re our little indulgences that keep life and cooking fun, almost our way of “traveling” on a budget :)

  9. Kathy Hinton says:

    I could survive at least a month eating from my little pantry that’s really just a closet. I have a wide selection of beans at all times. They are my favorite. Both dried and canned. I love to find a variety I don’t have or haven’t tried before. Interesting grains are my next favorite. I have all of them lined up in glass jars so I can see how pretty they are. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a pantry as big as a room like on those cooking shows!
    Love the frogs,

  10. Pam says:

    Remembered pantries of my two grandmothers, Flossie Wells and May Paul, and of a lifetime favorite artist, Tasha Tudor, are close to my heart. When we bought our home, there was a small, narrow room next to our kitchen that had been used as both a pantry and a 1/2 bath (I apologize for mentioning them together!) in the past. I really wanted to have my pantry there, and started planning – shelves of crocks, canning jars filled with the likes of brown rice, quinoa, and various flours; home-canned fruits and vegetables, chutneys, jams and marmalades; and those emergency cans of sardines, tuna and vegetarian baked beans. But, the need for a 1/2 bath on the first floor won out! Now my pantry is a kitchen closet with bi-fold shutter doors, space made more efficient with added store-bought shelves, and filled with various pastas, beans, seaweeds, condiments, fruits and vegetables, cereals, baking supplies and a few snacks; as well as my blender, food processor, large stainless steel pot, bowl and colander; and pressure cooker. Two years ago my husband and friends re-did a basement room for all my personal chef cooking and party supplies. It has a French door on it and lots of IKEA wooden shelves. It’s not a true pantry but I love it. It is pretty and organized and It smells like the spices I have stored there. It’s good for now, but hopefully, someday, I’ll have that precious pantry of my memories and my dreams! Thank you for the opportunity to win the natural foods cookbook.

  11. Sharon says:

    Two pantry items I can’t live without and want to tell everyone:

    dried dill weed which I buy from my health food store in the bulk section.
    Fresh and flavorful addition to soups, eggs, vegetables, pasta, rice..

    horseradish sauce adds a zing to everything.

  12. Mary Beth says:

    My pantry is custom built. I have all my “countertop appliances” in there including mixer, bread machine, blender, and food processor. All my cake pan collection is on a shelf. Baskets hold chocolate chips, cookie cutters, sprinkles and measuring spoons. Clear Jars hold several kinds of flowers, sugars, and other mixes. Pull out drawers hold canned and boxed items.

    I can simply shut to door to hide the mess!

    Love having a pantry room. And the room for pantry staples to make good food for my family.

  13. Jean B says:

    The majority of my cooking is done with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs. I find that dried spices often mask the natural flavor of the food, similar to a person who is wearing too much perfume. I do enjoy cooking with fresh parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro and mint from my herb garden.

    Thank you for sharing Heidi Swanson and her new cookbook with us!

  14. Karen says:

    Wish I had a closet pantry like my grandmothers. I can still remember its distinct smell–clean and spicy at the same time. We are trying to eat more vegetarian meals and Heidi’s book sounds perfect!

  15. Pat Potash says:

    My pantry – my go to – my best friend in my small kitchen. It has a 5ft. tall door that opens to 5 shelves that are about 22 inches wide. (not exactly the “dream” pantry, but I wouldn’t tell it that!) Two of the shelves are tall enough to accommodate bottles of oils, syrups, cake mixes, glass cannisters and such. The other three shelves are spaced to hold cans of tomatoes, soups and plastic bags of uncooked pasta or rice which I always mean to use up in soups or stews. The door does not always close flush with the frame, for I tend to pack the shelves too full. Therefore my pantry (much to its relief) got extended to a satellite pantry in a large closet in the adjoining family room. There, three, 36 inch. long shelves accommodate the overflow from the “parent” kitchen pantry. I blame that on Costco. I always get a warm , actually, a very lovely feeling when I open my kitchen pantry door. I use to wonder why, but after much thought, I think that this pantry now represents and holds the years of memories of all the past pantries I’ve had. They are warm, wonderful memories of nurturing and feeding family and friends whether they were holidays, celebrations or everyday meals. I view the foods as treasures and as I move things aside, I will sometimes find an item that will bring back a memory, like a cake mix that one my kids use to love or a bag of chocolate chips that would mysteriously disappear. There are moments that I enjoy a long linger and take inventory. Call me crazy, but I think my pantry has a life and breath of its own (especially when its door doesn’t close!). It doesn’t understand that I’m a 66 year old mother who raised and fed three children and their friends (the best years of my life) and am now actually a Great Grandmother who has never learned to buy for just two people. I always live with hopes that the family will descend upon us and my pantry and I must be ready!! I sometimes think I hear my spice cabinet say, “If she sticks one more poultry seasoning in here, we’re going to throw ourselves off the shelf!” I organize my poor pantry twice a year and always promise it that I will keep it sane and organized. However, my pantry and I begin the process all over again, but we love it and I love my pantry.

  16. MaryLou says:

    Spices and herbs awaken the palate and offer numerous health benefits. My winter pantry is so inviting when frigid temperatures make for a day of homemade applesauce from my 100 year old apple trees, soup, fruits, pickles, sauces for pasta all canned in the summer from organic ingredients seasoned with delectable spices and herbs. There are also preserves, jams and jellies to spread on homemade breads. My pantry invites you to come share in its offerings of delectables.MaryLou

  17. Christina says:

    I have favorite spices that I seem to use including cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and am happy to have herbs in my garden: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil (in season), lovage, parsley, lavender and sage. I enjoy cooking with whole grains and find a very large selection of Bob’s Red Mill products at a local store. Some favorites are flax, brown rice, teff flour, white bean flour, quinoa, almond meal, whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I try new products as I use up my stock. I like using King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and think it is a whole grain but someone told me it is only white flour. I plan to contact the company, but does anyone know anthing about that flour? I will have to look for the book by Heidi, Super Natural Every Day, but hope I win a copy.

  18. Magie Dabe says:

    It the past I have been accused of collecting food to look at it. Living in Wisconsin, around people that obsess about food, that is not such a good thing. Although the days of bomb shelters are over, I like to think my larder is stocked enough that I don’t have to run to the store, so that I have an adequate supply of essentials. Having had a family member live with me for 6 months I know what “eating you out of house and home” means, and in the future will not let that happen. My pantry is like and artist’s palette; I can create gastonomic delights as I want. Just can’t wait to finish my RN training so that I can clean and cook and do dishes like a normal person, however normal will not be in my equation any longer. Graduation in 29 days-making my dreams come true!

  19. Lis Hall says:

    Over the past year my family has bravely gone along as I have transitioned us from “healthy” from to a real food only life style. Two of our new favs have been black bean pasta (high in protein with gorgeous color – kind of a purple black) and red quinoa (which we enjoy with almost anything you can pair it). There is a lone can of sardines (Bittman) that I have yet to get quite brave enough to make a dressing out of, and of course, brown basmati rice, and several different dried and canned beans. A friend gave us a jar of homemade BBQ relish that we are looking forward to using over some black bean patties.Finally, there are the dried tomatoes and the crisp breads from Ikea (to eat with smelly cheese). Our family has made great changes (eating many more fruits and veggies and reducing processed food as much as possible). For us, it is not a fad, but rather a lifestyle – one that we feel really good about.

  20. Jean says:

    My pantry is chaotic at best- scattered throughout my kitchen in drawers, cabinets, on rolling racks, and on shelves in the stairwell to my basement. Of all my foodstuffs, my biggest challenge/dream over my 40 plus years as a cook has been to store my herbs and spices in some organized fashion. Should I ever achieve such a thing in life I will be in cook’s Nirvana!

  21. Wendy says:

    I do have lots of dried herbs and spices. I just wish I could buy them in smaller amounts.

    I much prefer fresh, I am going to try and grow some again this year. The trouble is the squirrels get into them, it is very frustrating but I do feed the squirrels so whose fault is it anyway?!!!!

    I am a vegetarian trying to go vegan for the animals sake.

  22. Toni says:

    I keep a lot of chili powders in my pantry for veggie chili—dried ancho, chipotle, etc. I also have a number of spices used in Mexican and Latin American cooking–epazaote, hoja santa, etc. I keep a variety of beans on hand and have discovered several types used in South American cooking including canary beans and pink beans. I’m also a big fan of vanilla–I keep several pods on hand to make flan or to flavor hot chocolate.

  23. I love spices but one U must have is saffron. My grandma was Mennonite and did Pa. Dutch cooking. She added saffron to her bread dressing, chicken corn soup and a saffron bread. I also must have Hungarian Paprika. I use it with panko crumbs to bread meats. I also love to add it to vegetables and soups.
    This year I will have a large herb garden and I am excited!

  24. erica says:

    We love our little pantry. My husband ordered some awesome metal shelves and our pantry is bright shiny and functional. I have Heidi”s other book and love her blog too.

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