Introducing: Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen.

There are only 2.5 Rules in my Kitchen:  DELICIOUS, and SIMPLE.*
*Or, to whatever extent not simple, well worth the extra trouble.

When you live in New York City the idea of actually cooking a decent meal at home can be difficult to wrap your head around. For one thing, apartment kitchens here are generally tiny, with very little room for appliances, cookware or prep surfaces. For another, the takeout option is tough to beat: you can get a fresh, delicious, inexpensive meal delivered right to your door, day or night. In addition, when you have a staggering array of superb restaurants within walking distance of your door, well… let’s just say, there are plenty of people here who store shoes in their ovens. Or, perhaps you may have an “adult” living in your home who will neither cook, shop for food, pay for food, offer to take you out for food, lift a finger to clean up after a meal you made, nor even place his own takeout order — ’cause all dat iz da wimminz’ werk, amirite? In that case, you just might be inclined to just stop cooking altogether and then divorce his entitled ass. But that’s another post.

So for various reasons I hadn’t really cooked for years, and then I read this book. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in addition to being a grand adventure story, made me consider what I was eating from the perspective of sheer enjoyment, as well as my own health, and the planet’s. I fell in love with cooking again. I discovered greenmarkets, and the produce section of my local health food store.  I found joy in preparing a meal with, and for, friends, lovers, family, myself. And, not coincidentally, I rediscovered what eggs are supposed to taste like.

I don’t follow cooking shows, and I don’t own a single cookbook. I come from an Italian-American cultural background (on my mom’s side), where family recipes are not written down anywhere and consist mainly of a string of helpful directives like, “Add some garlic.” Okay, how much garlic? “You know: enough.” ?!! I have a small kitchen, and few appliances. I am also aware of my privilege: that I have access to and can afford high-quality foods, and that I cook because I want to and not because I have to, for enjoyment and not for survival. None of this is lost on me. And believe me, I have absolutely no delusions that I’m some kind of nouveau Martha Stewart or whatever.

But over the years I’ve discovered some very cool things about food—mostly the hard way, of course. I figure maybe by posting these things, I can save someone like you the trouble of figuring them out for yourself the hard way.

Because if I can make simple and amazingly delicious food in my kitchen, maybe you can too.

A NOTE FOR VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS: I was raised on a typical American diet of heavily processed foods, sugary drinks, fast food and meat/animal protein at pretty much every single meal. I’ve gone vegetarian several times in my life and ventured into veganism more than once too, mainly for environmental impact reasons. I sincerely admire those with the willingness and discipline to make it stick, but I kept falling off the wagon, and then feeling pretty shitty about myself as a result.

But it turns out that what I can do rather easily is eat far less meat/animal protein, and choose cruelty-free and responsibly farmed foods when I do. In practice, for me this looks like a mostly-vegetarian diet, supplemented mainly with eggs and seafood, limiting the portion size and frequency that I eat other meats (e.g. a little pepperoni on my pizza), red meat once or twice a month, and fast food maybe once or twice a year. It also means shopping at greenmarkets, buying from pretentious butchers, and dining at restaurants that share a similar philosophy (like this one). I found a “No cheap chicken” rule was an easy place to start shifting, and that had a way of making me more and more conscious about my choices overall. As a result, I’ve come a loooong way from the “typical American diet,” consuming perhaps a quarter or less of the animal products that I used to. (Lard help me, I do love me some good cheese.) In any event, many kitchen posts will make the vegetarian/vegan cut, some would make it with easy substitutions (and we very much welcome suggestions on this!), and others…well, sorry—no dice. I hope you will find something to enjoy here, whatever your proclivities. I can promise you this: whatever you find here will be DELICIOUS, and SIMPLE.*

*Or, to whatever extent not simple, well worth the extra trouble.

One thought on “Introducing: Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen.

  1. Pingback: Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen: Cakeman Raven’s Red Velvet Cake. |

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