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Time is an issue. Where both partners work it’s hard to find time to cook. It’s important to understand when you cook you save a lot of money. … We also need to get kids involved in cooking again. … We need to bring back a non-gendered home economics.
For skeptics who don’t cook — and for those whose best cooking comes out of a box — what can you say to win them over? What’s the value in, as you argue, becoming producers instead of consumers of food?
In a word, pleasure. It’s all in your head whether you regard this work as drudgery or magic. That, for me, is what this book has been about. I fell in love with cooking as a way to spend leisure time. It will hold your interest much more than you can ever expect. It’s one thing to tell people, ‘Cooked food is good for you.’ It’s quite another to tell people you’re going to have a really good time if you get back in the kitchen. And it’s not that hard.
For people who have jobs, they have to approach it more strategically. They have to figure out what are those 20-minute dishes to get on the table.
What’s the worst thing you cooked in the course of researching this book?
There were some bad ones. We once got a farmers market chicken that was so fresh that it still was in rigor mortis. We cooked this thing and it just never got tender. It was just really tough and stringy. … I made a batch of sauerkraut that acquired this white beard of mold. I made a batch of beer that had a weird Bandaid smell to it. We still drank it.
Your favorite home-cooked meal?
A roast chicken is one of the most satisfying meals, with roasted root vegetables. … Braised anything. I really do like braised meat. I think it’s delicious. You can use really cheap cuts, cheap cuts are better. … It sounds really hard, it takes six hours, but again it’s not your six hours. You get it going and you can go for a run.
I’m interviewing you on Earth Day: Any connection between cooking and protecting the environment?
Without a doubt. Look, cooking is an act of profound engagement with the natural world. You [have a choice]: Are you going to support factory farms or are you going to support diversified family farms? It’s an opportunity to vote for a completely different way of managing the land. All my work on food has been work on the environment [including climate change, and air and water quality]. … When you solve for food, you solve for a lot of problems."
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