This issue’s Nutrition Hotline provides those who either don’t like to cook or can’t find the time to do so with a philosophy for creating meals.
QUESTION: “I’m having difficulty eating well at home. What advice do you have for people who don’t like to cook (or don’t have the time) and don’t want to live on veggie burgers and other (expensive) vegetarian specialty products?”
ANSWER: I’m an advocate of cooking from scratch in lieu of relying on packaged foods. It’s cheaper, and home-cooked meals can be better for you because you control the ingredients.
But there’s a key to pulling off home cooking these days when most of us are chronically short on time. The essential factor: Simplicity.
One champion of simplicity in the kitchen was Helen Nearing, a woman I met in 1995, shortly before she was killed in a car accident at the age of 91. She was a legend in some circles, having been—with her husband, Scott—a pioneering homesteader in New England since the 1930s.
Nearing gave me a copy of one of her books, Simple Food for the Good Life: An Alternative Cookbook, first published in 1980 and reissued by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in 1999. A phrase on the front cover captured what I so admired in Nearing’s attitude. It said, “Intended for the use of people of moderate fortune who do not affect magnificence in their style of living.”
Later in the book, she stated that her objective was to “write on simple food for simple-living people” and to pass on her ideas about cooking, “which call for little experience, little time, little money, few ingredients, and a minimum of complication.”
This pragmatic approach to food was in keeping with the impression I had of Nearing as a tough, no-nonsense woman who met no challenge she couldn’t master.
Nearing subscribed to the no-recipe approach to cooking. “I rarely read or consult a cookbook,” she said. “I’m a spur-of-the-moment cook and make do with what materials are at hand….”
Many of the lessons Nearing shared have value for those of us who want to eat well but have to work within the constraints of complicated, busy lives. Among her gems:
Simple words… for the good life.
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.
Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.
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