Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Welcome to my cooking blog! I'm starting this to document and share what I've been cooking for dinner lately in hopes that other families can use the healthier recipes that my family has enjoyed. Look at it this way, I'm doing hours of work culling and testing recipes so you don't have to!

I have close to 100 cookbooks, plus an entire shelf of books about food and cooking in general. I have recently, due to a lack of space, started borrowing cookbooks from the library and photocopying the recipes I want to try (Karen - is that a copyright violation?). I reserve them right from the comfort of my home office and get a lovely email from the library system advising me when they're ready for me to pick up. Not as satisfying, I'll admit, but I've completely run out of shelf space. I also read and tab Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Coooking Light and often Saveur and Food and Wine each month. I clip both the Washington Post and New York Times food sections every Wednesday. And, I am sometimes the annoying person who has ripped out a recipe from a magazine at the hairdresser, doctor, or car dealership. When I have time, I read 5 to ten food blogs per week, as well. I always search out recipes that are relatively healthy, easy and delicious sounding.

Some of you know that I took many recreational cooking skills classes over the years at the noted French culinary school here in Bethesda. I was most inspired by a series of culinary skills classes that covered, in an extremely abbreviated way, the essence of French culinary training. I learned to make creamy, delicious, rich foods such as cauliflower gratin, proper mashed potatoes (use a ricer and LOTS of butter), pate a choux and the like. Most importantly, I learned about tastes that complement each other and how to think about cooking without a recipe, or, at least, using a recipe only as a starting off point.

Then, just over a year ago, I had a horrible and startling wake up call about the fragility of life, health, and my genetic predisposition for really bad heart problems. And I learned that heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. From there on out I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could help my and my family's health through what and how we eat. How to reconcile the French cooking with heart health?

So, during the last year, I have read everything I can about heart health and diet, and general health and diet. I've read Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Gary Taubes, The Glycemic Revolution, and more recently, Mark Bittman. I've also read any number of cookbooks. I subscribe to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Nutrition Action newsletter.

Just over a year ago, I began my journey, limiting saturated fats (no more mashed potatoes with butter), sodium, white flour, white rice and highly processed products whenever I cook. It wasn't as hard as it sounds, and when not at home cooking myself, I'm just not obsessive about it. At home, I try to make vegetables and whole grains the basis of our meals. And, yes, I'm dragging my family, which includes a teenaged boy and girl, along on this journey.

My primary goal is to have my family enjoy our dinner, while doing no major harm to our bodies. We are a family that, against the greater tide in our area, eats dinner together most weekday nights. Many weekend evenings we gather together, adults and kids, with relatives and friends to share homecooked dinners. This is home, not restaurant cooking. I will be cooking with lots of vegetables and grains that may be as new to you as they were to me until last year. Give them a try. And then try them a couple of more times. Some will grow on you. Eventually, they may grow on your family, too. I'm guessing that you and your families will not realize the healthier nature of most of these recipes (OK - some of my beloved nieces and nephews always know). These are recipes that I hope you can share with your families and friends, healthy, yet luscious, heart-warming and heart healthy. However, there is no magic bullet here, and no guarantees about health - I'm a cook, not a doctor or a scientist. This just seems to make sense. Join me for the ride.

The following recipe was a revelation for me. It epitomizes all I'm trying to do. As simple as can be, relatively healthy and truly delicious. It makes cauliflower eaters out of everyone who tries it. The value added of a little bit of olive oil is astonishing.

Roasted Cauliflower

(adapted from Gourmet magazine)

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower (for my family, the bigger the better. The leftovers are great)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

-Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
-Cut up cauliflower into bite sized florets. Toss with olive oil in a bowl or ziploc bag. When coated, spread cauliflower in a single layer in a large shallow baking dish. I use a half sheet pan lined with tin foil.
-Roast cauliflower, stirring and turning over occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
-sprinkle salt over cooked cauliflower

*If you are cooking something else in the oven at the same time at a lower temperature, this works just as well. Simply leave the cauliflower in the oven a bit longer.


  1. Oh yum...I've had this before....soooooo good. I'd never get my kids to even try it, though, sadly....maybe when they're older....

    And you go for it with the blog! You rock, Wendy!

  2. Congratulations on starting your blog! This is exactly the kind of info i need. we've been wanting to eat/cook healthier.

    I've tried a similar recipe to this using brussel sprouts-cut in half. Along with the kosher salt i added a dash of crushed red peppers and some Zahtar. Alas i'm the only one in the family who likes them. now i'll try the cauliflower.

  3. Wendy--can't wait to try the cauliflower but more importantly, congrats! This is so awesome and so impressive. i always knew you had a ton going for you but I have to say this is really amazing...the writing, the substance, the thought...wow.

  4. Thanks for thoughts all!

    I'm also the only brussels sprout eater in my house. I've sometimes done half and half with cauliflower. Also, broccoli roasts really well - a little less time in the oven and I add minced garlic and crushed red pepper about 10 minutes before it's finished. I also roast asparagus once it's in season. Most of the time I just steam the veggies, but when the main dish is a little plain and/or there are guests involved, roasting really makes the vegetables special.

  5. Wendy, this is great. Can't wait to try the cauliflower. don't be surprised if you find it being served next time we see you!