Ann Gentry is the creator and founder of Real Food Daily (RFD), a mecca for organic, vegan cuisine in Los Angeles, where she and her staff serve up delicious, plant-based food to celeb devotees including Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, and Conan O’Brien. The executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine, and star of her own cooking show, Naturally Delicious, Gentry is also the author of The Real Food Daily Cook Book. Her new cookbook, Vegan Family Meals: Real Food For Everyone, just out this week, offers more than 100 tasty recipes. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gentry about cooking for families, raising children vegetarian, and why she believes in feeding people whole, natural food.   Read more

Many people consider Thanksgiving a marathon. For my large family who entertains all year long for the Jewish holidays, it’s more of a brief jog around the block. When I was a kid, my family of six often cooked and ate meals with my aunt, uncle and my four cousins who lived across the street. In my world, cooking a turkey feast for 20 is called Sunday Dinner.

You may think we are a family of trained chefs or, at the very least, had some extra help. But neither was the case. The adults realized early on that they had a crew of sous chefs already in-house. They may be barely three feet tall, but kids are often an incredible source of energy, creativity, and assistance in the kitchen. Read more

As a long-time regular of Angelica Kitchen restaurant in New York City, I’ve come to consider it a “second kitchen,” a place I feel good about supporting because it shares the values I keep in my own kitchen: High quality ingredients that provide a fair income to farmers who are working to protect the environment–and which provide nutrition without sacrificing any of the flavor–all for the reasonable cost afforded by buying direct.

And I am not alone. Since it opened its door in 1976, Angelica Kitchen has cultivated a loyal following, and their sustainable business model–maintained without serving alcohol (you can BYOB)–is a case study for success outside of the mainstream restaurant industry. Angelica’s is also one of the most popular vegetarian restaurants in New York City, precisely because it attracts a clientele that includes many non-vegetarians. In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, I spoke with owner Leslie McEachern–who is being awarded for her long-time advocacy of small, local farms by the Northeast Organic Farming Association this month–about running a restaurant built on relationships. Read more

With summer here, and the influx of both wild and planted harvestables gaining momentum, I am taking pause to compare season’s past with now.  Aside from what we’ve chosen for our garden, my typical food foraging generally takes place on my own property, harvesting native wild blackberries, volunteer plums, and miner’s lettuce and wild arugula for supple spring salads.  We’re also fortunate to have access to some prime mushroom hunting, and usually pull in a few pounds of porcini and chanterelles each year.

But this year is weird. Read more

Kyle Cornforth was up for a challenge. So when the founder of a cooking school in the outskirts of Chiang Mai asked Kyle, who was working at the Edible Schoolyard at the time, if she’d like to come on board as director of The Prem Organic Cooking Academy and Farm, she leapt at the chance. She wanted to share what she’d learned about local, sustainable, organic cooking at a public school in north Berkeley with students and staff at an international school in northern Thailand. Read more

For my entire food love life, which is basically the number of years I have been alive, I have been plagued by conflict. Raised by one vegetarian parent, whose meal-making repertoire spanned the Whole Earth Catalogue, I was taught to consider carob chips as a very special treat. My other, carnivorous parent reveled in the rare opportunities to spoil me with “Home-Fried Taco Shell Night” and sly donut stops on the way to the dump. This devil and the angel phenomenon now haunts my kitchen time—one voice whispers to steam veggies and substitute stevia in my whole grain baking projects, while the other yells to go ahead and make that traditional coconut cream pie. I grapple constantly with being “healthy” or using the “real thing,” striving for purity of body or purity of original flavor. But in the end, can’t these two food philosophies converge?

Yes.  I think the solution lies in simply trusting in the nourishment of whole, fresh ingredients.   Read more

It was a blessing in disguise, one of many construction zone disasters that actually resulted in triumph.  One recent morning I walked into the only room that remains somewhat set up for day-to-day activities during our total DIY home remodel, sectioned off by hanging canvas tarps, gutted walls, electrical wires, naked bulbs and lots of dust, and on the floor lay splinters of wood and scattered index cards.  It looked like a crime scene from the movies, someone looking for my secret papers, but instead was my old, neglected recipe box that had tumbled off its absent-mindedly placed location on the highest shelf. Read more

Although it is hardly a novel technique, our new, modern wood-burning stove has opened up a whole world of culinary experimentation to me. Before now the click of a knob or turn of a dial seamlessly preceded any cooking task, but with the crackling wood and cozy smoke scented aromas that fill our living space, I feel inclined to utilize the raw heat for more than warmth. It has defined true slow food, really driving home the concept of weaving time, energy, labor, and craft into a wood fired meal while consolidating our resource consumption instead of compiling it. It is the ancient practice of hearth cooking in today’s modern America, and anyone who still heats their house with fire can easily incorporate it into their daily food preparation plans. Read more

My kitchen has been whittled down to about 50 square feet.  Standing room only to say the least is our new cooking protocol, making collaborative meals a thing of the past. The kitchen counter is rapidly shrinking as more and more household items get piled onto the rare space, along with the dirty dishes in our bus tub that have to get washed outside. My elbows tuck in closer when chopping and I have to set the toaster oven on the floor by the power strip that reaches the single outlet in operation. The large vintage Viking range, a mere foot away, makes for a hot and sweaty prep station if cranked up during the dinner hour, so even on these chilly autumn evenings our faces flush with any kitchen task. What has restricted our game, you might wonder? Read more