A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing) — a cookbook from Anna Jones
When I was going through a particularly sticky patch with my health issues, my mother signed our family up for a Klesick Family Farms produce box delivery. Not only was this helpful for all the practical reasons — I didn’t have to leave my home to get good food or plan a grocery list — it also made sure our little family ate a fresh variety of fruits and veggies.
The only downside I can see to a produce box delivery, unless you have the time or foresight to plan your meals in advance and order a box accordingly, is that you’re often found wondering just what to do with a seemly odd combination of produce. Up to my eyeballs in beets, garlic scapes and cauliflower, what is one to cook?
This veggie conundrum is one easily tackled by Anna Jones and her modern way of eating. Her cookbook is vegetarian, so it’s quite versed in making great use of the odd veggie (she even has a section on “What to do with the weird stuff”).
Even if you’re not vegetarian, don’t be dissuaded by this fact! I find a vegetarian cookbook the most versatile of cookbooks, since one can always add meat to a dish, but it’s never quite as simple to remove it. Her intro encourages that not only will this way of eating make one feel better, it will work with our pocket books, the reality of the day’s schedule, and with the foods we have available (like what’s in that produce box).
One of Jones’s most helpful elements is spread throughout the book: the diagram. In her How to Make a Great Salad diagram, each column adds an item: leaves, texture, freshness, dressing. To test this, I literally closed my eyes and dropped my finger in each column of listed additions.
Ok, that could work … but that’s not what I have on hand. So I went the other way round, what do I have on hand, and where could it fit? For this, I tested her One Soup: One Thousand Variations diagram, ending up with celery, (my many) garlic scapes, mustard seeds, broccoli, spinach, cooked amaranth and finished with roasted seeds and drizzle of olive oil. Yes, it worked. Moreover, it was both delicious and empowering.
As an example of just how realistic and useful her help is, she acknowledges that a large soup made at the beginning of the week can lose its luster by mid week. The solution? Blend it up and add a couple new toppings. Voilà! Reinvented with little effort or cost, and so pretty with those little additions sprinkled over.
It would be good to note here that visual eating is also important to Jones. She encourages that a little goes a long way to making a dish look like you went to much greater effort — that drizzle of olive oil, dollop of yogurt, sprinkle of toasted nuts — plus, these add nutrition. She’s right, I hand a plain bowl of soup to the family and it’s “thanks, mom,” I add a little of their favorites on top, and it’s “oh, wow!”
So, what about the recipes? Frankly, they’re amazing. She has this sort of “no recipe is an island” approach, where bits of one can be added to leftovers from another, with listed examples of versatility. I don’t think it would be overstating my enjoyment of this book to say that I’d gladly cook straight through the thing, à la Julie & Julia style.
Unlike the often daunting recipes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Jones’s A Modern Way to Eat is a challenge only in retrospect, as her book effortlessly transforms our way of eating, not recipe by recipe, but by alternating instruction with encouragement. Jones is impossibly likable and her methods are friendly and challenging in just the right dosage.
Equipped with her confidence and those random veggies, next you know, you’re cooking like un chef moderne.
Who should buy this: Anyone looking to change their way of eating to be healthier without the adherence to a specific diet or preachy food ethos. Also for those of us needing to reinvent our Meatless Mondays.
Need your own produce delivered? Our family receives deliveries from Klesick Family Farms in Stanwood, Washington. They deliver local and organic produce and food products right to your door. Sign up and say Erin Pride referred you … they’ll send me a Theo chocolate bar, and I love Theo chocolate. ;)