Food is my love language. I care for those around me by cooking foods that I know they especially like, or that will nourish them deeply or will help them feel better in the way that only meals prepared with love truly can.
I come from a long line of women who cook. My Swedish-Norwegian grandmother and Swedish great-grandmother nourished their families in the city with simple foods sourced from the little corner markets, on a tight budget but with an abundance of love. My Czech grandmother and great grandmothers (all of them named Anna) lived closer to the land, and the foods they cooked followed a deep understanding of the cycles of the earth and the practical use of what was available to them. My mother picked up that line and began cooking as a new wife and mother – learning to cook from notes, recipes and assistance from her aunt over the phone. (How much seasoning? “About this much.” Really, this much? “Yes, this much.”) Her aunt lived a mile away, but my mom got a fast track cooking education by tasting, recalling food memories and translating all those phone conversations.
The side of me that wants to make sure everyone can find the most enjoyment through food, no matter their eating restrictions, comes from my Grandma Verna (my middle name namesake). I have this very specific memory of feeling so taken care of at her dinner table because she always remembered to make a special little bowl of coleslaw for me without raw celery because of my food allergy. I received so much love from that practice – spoken in the bowl without words.
The part of me that lives and breathes seasonal cooking was taught to me by my mother. Cooking foods as they became available, harvested from our gardens or from our fruit trees is something that has stuck with me since I was a young girl. The seasonal rhythms are so much easier to understand in your bones when you taste what happens when foods are enjoyed at that perfect moment in the year. You realize that it becomes utterly pointless to recreate that moment when the timing isn’t just right: it can never taste quite the same. I learned to settle into the ease of enjoying special flavors at their moment, and waiting another year until that time comes around once again.
All of these incredible women are with me in the kitchen every time I get in there to prepare a meal. I cook filled with all their love, wrapping goodness and intention into the dishes I am making to create delicious and deeply nourishing food.
I cook through a framework of abundance and gratitude. Eliminating an ingredient or changing a recipe with an eye towards health is an extension of all that kitchen love instead of a hardship. A beautiful, delicious and healthful meal is the most loving thing we can do for our bodies. We can’t live without replenishing our systems with food, but we can absolutely live more vibrantly with the best foods.
I don’t cook without fat, I just pay attention to using the best fats. I cook without refined sugar, but I find ways of drawing out natural sweetness in foods. I realized during a period of strict sugar elimination that we have to honor all of the areas of our taste buds or we will not feel as satisfied. I cook with plenty of herbs, lots of spices and loads of garlic because I understand that building healthful meals and deep flavors doesn’t arrive from focusing on what is missing but instead focuses on what can be enhanced with layers of flavor.
I think about certain eating restrictions as an opportunity to find a way to creatively fuel our bodies with foods that might not have been on our radar before something caused a shift: an awareness, an allergy, an intolerance, or simply a decision to improve our diet.
In this collection of recipes you’ll find a framework of foods that can be adapted to fit into many eating styles and restrictive diets - without prescribing any “right” way or any “must-dos” or “must-not-dos.” For me, this honors how completely unique we are and focuses instead on our commonality.
We all need to be loved. We all need to eat. And we all need to put the best foods possible into our amazing bodies that will somehow run no matter what we do to them, but can run even better when fueled with the good stuff.
This book is about eating more of that good stuff: fresh, seasonal vegetables in every color – red, orange, green, purple, blue, black and white; spices, herbs, whole grains, pulses and beans, fruits and good fats. It’s about how to cook them and eat them in a way that enhances - and not takes you away from – your life.
nourish: cooking with love in four seasons is a collection of recipes that everyone can cook, with a little time or a whole weekend. You won’t find complicated methods or hard to find ingredients. It’s a kick start to a way of living that includes building time for cooking into the plan. There really is no better way to take care of your health and the health of those around you.
Your kitchen is the heart of your home - so get in there and start cooking! By using these recipes, I’ll be in there with you, loving you every step of the way.