Before heading out this September to promote my new book—Perfect One-Dish Dinners, All You Need for Casual Get-Togethers—I’ve been working on another that I’ve just sold to Rodale Press for the following fall. Irish twins, yes, but what’s an author to do with fifteen idle months?
After turning in One-Dish Dinners last June, I headed off on vacation. I ate and drank and made merry that week, but it was an unexpectedly creative and productive time too. Maggy and Sharon were there, and that’s when Three Many Cooks was conceived (cool!). But the seeds for a new book were also planted: Meatless Mondays.
For years I’d been meaning to find a way to eat less meat, better meat, but of course you don’t change your life overnight. It takes time and space to figure things out.
I had no idea when we left for vacation that David and I would return home two-day-a-week vegetarians. But one night, over a long, leisurely dinner, we rehashed what we all knew all too well. It’s not healthy to eat all that red meat. And worse, the way much of it is produced is both ethically shocking and biologically frightening.
I wasn’t ready to go full-time vegetarian. I love Easter lamb, Christmas prime rib, Fourth-of-July ribs, and Memorial Day burgers too much to foreswear flesh. But it was becoming clear: I didn’t need to eat as much meat, and especially not the kind of meat being produced today. If I could eat less meat, I could afford to buy better meat.
With the zeal of day-old dieter, I made the shift to meatless with relative ease, simply trading eggplant for sausage on pizza and white beans and cauliflower for Bolognese. But three meals a day, in all kinds of situations—at home, at parties, in restaurants—eventually it gets tough. To be vegetarian for the long haul I had to integrate the new way into my old life. It wasn’t good enough just to substitute vegetables for meat. Like weight maintenance, if it’s for real and forever, I had to make a life-style adjustment.
Two things happened. I started developing a set of techniques and formulas a la How to Cook Without a Book, so I could easily cook without recipes on meatless days. Second, I started developing meatless dishes that were as fun and enticing as entrees con carne. For me they had to be so good I’d be just as likely to make them on days when I didn’t “have to.” Supper Spuds (check out my recipe) is an example of the kind of dish I’m talking about.
Last night David and I decided we’d split a steak for dinner. I found a pair in the freezer—stuck together. Time was, I would have thoughtlessly thawed them both, knowing we could easily eat them over the next few days. But I did the math. Between nights out and meatless days, we wouldn’t be eating the second for a long while. I got a big knife and pried them apart. We ate one, and the other is still tucked away in the freezer.
I’m slowly, naturally living into last summer’s big decision. I’m doing the work, and it’s working.
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
Two new books? Thank you! I can’t wait to see them, especially the Meatless Mondays one. I’ve been trying the same thing, picking up recipes here and there, but I’m in a bit of a rut, and could use the inspiration.
Pam, I’m excited for both new books. James and I were trying to get into the meatless days, but fell off the wagon with the kitchen renovation. Nothing, I think, disrupts your home life more than having absolutely no way to provide sustenance for yourself. The last three weeks have passed in a blur of takeaways and pizza deliveries, Outbacks and Applebees. I’ve been desperate for fresh fruit and veg, and to prepare it the way *I* want it. As soon as this kitchen gets back together, it’s my goal to get us back on to Meatless Mondays. Can’t wait to pick up the book to help me do it!
Also, we loaded things back into the kitchen yesterday (still sans countertops), but I’m proud to say that How to Cook Without a Book and Perfect Recipes for Having People Over were the first two cookbooks on my new Whatnot shelf! 🙂
Susie Middleton says
Pam, this is great news!! I’m on the same page as you. Susie
I remember that vacation well – one of the best we’ve ever had. I love when vacations are not only fun and relaxing, but productive and creative. Good things happen when you get out of your routine and simply have time to talk and think.
Eating vegetarian two days a week has been a major commitment and often times a challenge. But I am so glad you’re writing this book, because veggie nights should be better than pizza and pasta. I want to do more than just “get by” on those nights – I want to look forward to and ENJOY my dinner. And this will only happen by becoming a better vegetarian cook.
Maggy, I so agree! With two kids with simple palates, “meatless” has always meant pizza or pasta! I have started a new kick lately incorporating beans into meals, but I need more inspiration – I can’t wait for BOTH books to come out.
PS – I want to let you know the crab cakes were DELICIOUS! I served them over the weekend on a bed of micro greens tossed in a vinaigrette – Yummy! (sorry no pictures!) Thank you!
This looks amazing! We do meatless Mondays and this will be on the menu for sure. Thanks!
And I can’t wait for the book! Keep us updated, please 🙂
Bob M says
Hey Mike V,
At amazon.con ya can pre-order the book now :)! At $21.12 it’s a deal.
I didn’t really mean to throw you a softball, but I guess I did. Thanks for hitting it out of the park! You’re hired.
Ha! That made me giggle. Bob’s funny.
Bob M says
Glad to help the readers of the blog. Hope the book tour gets you out to San Francisco bay area?
This is awesome news Pam! I’m so excited you have a new book coming out. I’ll be sure to include it in our fall cookbook preview where I work – at chapters.indigo.ca (the Canadian bookstore) when the time comes. You have lots of Canadian fans – me being one of them!
And I am totally on board with meatless mondays.
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
I’m going to hold off until a little closer to the release date.
But it is on my Amazon wishlist now, to remind me in a few months.
Um…because my grilling cookbook pre-orders are going to leave my cookbook budget zeroed out for a while… 🙂
Jeanne Burch says
Just heard today San Fransisco Board of Supervisors is declaring Mondays as Meat-Free Mondays! They better pre-order your new book, Pam! I can’t wait for its release!
Sally K says
I’ve been doing Meatless Monday’s for only a short time. So far, I’ve done a vegetable cobbler, macaroni and cheese, cheese strata, and a pasta/tomato dish. I’ve been considering omelets and frittata — maybe Spanish tortilla. I have recipes for a vegetarian cassoulet, white bean and garlic stew, and two different bean and pasta stews. Then there’s grilled or roasted vegetables with pasta.
I’m excited for the new cookbooks! I have One-Dish Dinners added to my wishlist at Amazon.