We Are the Editors of “Joy of Cooking” and “This Is How We Eat”

Joy of Cooking is a recognizable cult cookbook. There are many different editions to choose from and most of us grew up seeing at least one edition in our mom’s or grandma’s kitchen. If you have the latest version, you should thank the editors John Becker and Megan Scott. In addition to developing over 600 new recipes, they tested, tweaked and updated every chapter to reflect how people cook and eat today. In Joy and online, John and Meghan (who happen to be married) focus on food, taking a holistic and engaging approach to the art of cooking and the pleasure of eating (and sometimes frozen pizza).

At the start of the pandemic, you tweeted a thread about how to maximize the number of meals a single recipe can get, and it was pretty tough in the pantry. Do you think people are still cooking such food so far that a pandemic has started?

Megan: I think a lot of people get tired of cooking.

John: We’re just assuming pantry cooking is a standard feature. People still don’t go to restaurants if they’re smart. This is not to say that people who gather in places of responsibility are stupid. But I mean, to be honest, I still find it silly, mainly because you put the kitchen staff at risk. It’s great that the waiters follow all of these precautions while you keep your distance and eat on the street. But what about the people who cook your food?

Megan: But when we were working on Joy and writing the chapter on sustainable cooking, our biggest concern was teaching people how to cook, not as a show, but as a practice. You don’t have to start with a recipe and then make a shopping list, get the exact amount of food needed for that recipe, make a recipe, eat it all, and then start over the next day. It’s tedious, crap, and completely ineffective. But if you can use what you have, or find a recipe, but then tweak or tweak it to match what you have and what you like, it’s just a more holistic approach to cooking. I think it’s more enjoyable when you get the hang of it than trying to follow the recipe every time.

John: I mean, I don’t know how other people act. Rene Redzepi or Grant Ahatz can sit down with a damn piece of paper and say, “Well, these ingredients will work well. I think I will create a new dish, “but for me, and I think for 99% of people, they do not have this” Eureka! »Moments when it comes to creativity. They’re just like, “I have this. I’m going to add it to this recipe because that’s what I have and damn it tastes great. ” Or “I’m going to use these leftovers in a different way than I ever thought.” And that’s the kind of creativity I enjoy as opposed to buying my way to some truly unique recipe. It is much more environmentally friendly and you will fade less.

I feel like a lot of people are now writing about food like “This is the perfect recipe for this dish, and if you do it differently, you’re wrong,” and I don’t think that’s fair.

Megan: No, it’s not fair and inaccurate. He is full of arrogance and it is simply unreality. We also really dislike this approach.

John: It’s naive. It kind of reminds me of home economists and behavioral psychologists that we can predict the outcome because we were able to reproduce something in the laboratory. “This is how people do it. This is what is going to happen. ” That is, of course, writing recipes is not useless. Just insist on a certain level of accuracy – at a certain point it diminishes the recoil and also repels people. You don’t have to teach creativity. You just need to get people to stop worrying about what’s going on.

Megan: And in that case, not everything will be amazing. You may spoil something, or you may not taste what you want, but you will learn a lot when you do it.

John: If you put it up as if it were “an aesthetic creation,” then you have to judge yourself by the same metric. That is, I am quite self-critical. I don’t need this to interfere with a) my creativity and b) the way I the hell feed myself and my wife. So you can stop caring.

This is a hack. Just stop caring. Speaking of pantry cooking: what do you usually have in your pantry?

John: In terms of grain, we still have a lot of testing leftovers for the book.

Megan: It’s a little embarrassing because it’s almost like Sam Sifton: “Oh, I accidentally have a duck’s fist .” We have a lot of Rancho Gordo beans, a lot of spices and chili peppers.

John: I remember buying them on purpose to compare how they are prepared in time – two different types of farro, one of which was semi-pearl, and the other was not … like, semi-pearl.

Megan: I’m trying to remember what kind of things we keep in the pantry that we actually use very often, like sardines.

John: One thing that was kind of a fantastic new addition: we saw an article on the flavor of this fried dace with black beans . This shit is amazing. And since then we have definitely stocked up on it.

Megan: Tons of rice. We eat a lot of rice.

John: We should always have Jasmine.

Megan: In short.

John: Uncle Meghan’s ex-girlfriend attracted us to Tamaki Gold , a short grain Japanese rice that’s really fantastic. And Tilda Basmati is really good.

How do you keep track of everything?

John: I wish I could tell you that we do everything on a first-in, first-out basis and made a date.

Megan: Well, I have a table.

John: This is for the freezer!

Megan: No, I have a pantry there too. I don’t have all of the spices we listed, but I do have a Google sheet with information about what’s in our fridge, what’s in our freezer, what’s in our pantry – for example, the main ingredients.

John: That should give you an idea of ​​the division of labor. I really need to update the table. I just did not realize that it was all there. Since I’m a housewife now, I try to do more paperwork and tracking expenses. I think I’m fine.

Megan: You’re okay.

John: Thank you.

Megan: Luckily, our garage is next to our kitchen. We have some metro racks in our garage where we keep most of our pantries because there isn’t enough space in our kitchen. This makes it easier to see everything, because everything is laid out.

John: My mom used to buy a lot of spices at Costco, and there were enough of them for years and they were always lost because … I think it was just one closet, but it was just full to overflowing. We sort out enough spices, and enough of them whole. But all the spices have gone far beyond what we recommend storing them for. But at least if you grind them, they will still have some kind of smell.

Is it something like “do as I say, not as I do”?

Megan: This is definitely one of them. We try to be nice, but there are a lot of them, they are in glass jars and probably shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight. They should probably be in opaque jars or containers.

John: Masons and their lids are so easy to clean. Maybe we should freeze the glass. Then make candles.

Megan: The weirdest thing about Joy of Cooking is that you try to give really solid advice, the best advice you can give people, but sometimes life gets in the way, and you don’t necessarily follow all of those tips. All the time. And that’s okay.

John: I mean, Ina Garten gave up in May. She did these interviews in which she said, “Well, I tested the recipe and cooked for myself and Jeffrey, and I fucking gave up.” This is all from the Paula Forbes newsletter , which is nice. But yes, Ina said, “Sometimes I don’t completely empty the dishwasher, put the dirty dishes in there and start it up again.” We don’t do this shit, but we bought our fourth frozen pizza this month.

Megan: We’re moving on to frozen dinners now.

What kind of frozen pizza do you buy?

John: I need to create a new favorite, but this one was “Screamin ‘Sicilian” or something, and they are not bad.

Are you changing them ?

John: Last time: it was just a damn cheese pizza.

Megan: All the cheese.

John: And I think Megan brought home a bit of stress. So in the middle of baking, I just put the sopressata on top. I mean, once upon a time my favorite thing is not! Never mind! I’m not going to say that.

Tell me please.

John: Ketchup. On cold, leftover frozen pizza. I would put ketchup in there. Terrible and delicious.

What ketchup?

John: I mean, Heinz. We have a quick ketchup recipe, which is basically double strength tomato paste (although it doesn’t have to be double strength), and then you [add] some of any invert sugar like corn syrup or honey. but I don’t like honey in my fucking ketchup. Then some vinegar or some chopped cloves or whatever. That’s really good, but it’s still not Heinz.

Megan: It’s like emergency ketchup. For example, if you really want ketchup for something, but you don’t have it and don’t want to go anywhere. So, you just make this little batch of quick ketchup. And, I think, this itch is scratching.

John: So the seasonings: there is a new mustard. I always think of it as “unnecessary prank”. This is Levensenf .

Oh, it’s in one of those metal tubes.

John: Yeah. By the way, these tubes should contain tomato paste, and that’s it!

Megan: I saw the gochujang brand that makes it in a tube, and I thought, “Oh shit.” This is such a good idea.

John: We don’t make such big purchases anymore, but for a while we had a good deal with Amazon for tomato paste. I can’t remember the brand. It was amazing. It’s like a triple concentrate. We’re gonna make a fucking twelve packs.

Megan: Business.

John: Two dollars apiece! You know, when we tested, we went through this.

Besides frozen pizza, what other frozen food do you have on deck?

Megan: We cooked a big batch of burritos for me because I am not good at feeding myself during the day when I have to go to work, although I cook at work. This is just weird.

John: They were made from smoked pork that was frozen a year ago.

Megan: Not a year ago. Maybe six months ago.

John: We recently had an odd amount of prepackaged mince. And I scaled up a meatball recipe to use it all – pork and beef – and then I froze like half that IQF style on a baking sheet. So there are some raw meatballs ready to cook. And we fry them because we are dirty people.

Megan: Pagans.

John: But it’s that simple. And it was because of one meal I prepared for my mom when she was in town. We are not doing this enough, but we must. When you do something, do a little more.

Megan: And freeze.

I like this approach more than “make a big batch and eat all week.”

Megan: It’s boring. It’s so boring.

John: It’s like you’re the chef in your own cafeteria.

May I have a look in your refrigerator?

Did you guys like sourdough at all?

John: A little.

Megan: Not really.

John: Yes, because we killed him again.

Megan: I killed my starter again. They’re really hard to kill, but I just …

John: There is no coordination between us.

Megan: I started baking in 2011 or something, and sometimes I do it regularly and then it falls off. And I [take] the leaven from the fridge, like “I’ll feed it and make the leaven on Friday,” and then I just don’t do it. And then he stays for a few days, and I’m like, “Well, I’ve already waited three days, so I guess I’ll just let him die now.”

John: It’s usually vinegar. He must show symptoms before we can relieve him of his suffering.

Megan: You just need to make a new one. At first I was almost religious about this. “Oh, I want this leaven …”

John: “… be 90!”

Megan: Yeah. And then I killed him and thought, “It’s actually easy to make a new one.” So. It doesn’t really matter.

You can also buy them.

John: Tara Jensen – Megan used to work at the Asheville farmers market next to her – she sells dehydrated sourdough. And my guess is that there is another company that dehydrates starter cultures from Egypt and South Africa – all over the world. It was a strange rabbit hole that could be lowered one day.

There are so many rabbit holes in the food.

This was my favorite part in the book – the rabbit hole behind the rabbit sock. But I wouldn’t get lost because there was a goal. I was lucky with that.

Focus really helps.

John: This is really the most frustrating part about watching the food media try to make a difference at this particular time. How much of this is actually trying to help people? How many of these people actually spent their careers helping people instead of developing a personal slash brand style or [trying to] get as many clicks as possible? I mean the extreme, of course, will be those really disgusting videos with Velveeta blocks.

Chefs Club!

Megan: The last one, with scrambled eggs inside the cheese block. I never feel like I know what’s next.

John: At least there is uncertainty. But I look at a lot of things that our industry has done lately, no matter how much time I put in and think to myself … I mean, it all makes sense. But the intention is … I don’t know.

I know what you are talking about. We are all trying to make a living by writing something that has existed forever. You can really say a lot about this.

John: You can talk about the chefs. This is what people were doing.

Yes, and people don’t eat like cooks. This is another motivation.

John: My house is not a gang, and I am not a fucking boss. Whenever someone calls us “chef” – any of us – it’s just “no.”

Megan: Yeah. People seem to know nothing but the “chef”. I’m not a cook. I’m just a cook and I write recipes.

John: I try not to talk about it, but I’m just a cook. Chef means boss.

Megan: Yeah. “Chef” means “leader” or “boss”.

John: Again, I try not to be an asshole.

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