Letter from the Editor

A July Letter from the Editor: This Month We’re Putting Vegetables First

updated Aug 4, 2020
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Credit: Bijou Karman

Hello, friends! I’m writing this letter to you from vacation: a very at-home staycation, but a vacation nonetheless, with a tall stack of books to read, and an even taller stack of cookbooks to cook from. So I’ll keep it brief. I have two things on my mind as we begin July.

Credit: Melissa Ryan

First, this month we are all about putting vegetables first. Whether you eat meat or not, July is an easy and exciting month to put vegetables at the center of the plate. To guide and teach us in our vegetable-first explorations, we saved one of our favorite cookbooks of the year for this month’s Cookbook Club pick: Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom. Bryant is a brilliant chef and teacher, and we have loved and admired his work for years. This book is a must-have, with miles of learning for the vegan-curious, and knockout recipes for anyone and everyone. This one is on top of my pile and I can hardly wait to see what you all make!

The second thing on my mind, as we enter our fifth month of quarantine and social distancing, is how present and real the coronavirus pandemic still is to our lives. As cases spike in my city and continue to rise throughout much of the country, it is a sober reminder that there have been changes to how we grocery shop and cook — but those changes aren’t over yet. I and the team are thinking a lot about how to best serve you and nourish you as this crisis rolls on. We’re mindful of the economic hardships that so many people are experiencing, and the loss that comes in missing family and friends —  not to mention parents’ looming fears of a fall without school or daycare (did you read Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s incandescent piece in the New York Times this week? Says it all!). We are committed to helping in whatever ways we can, and I would love always to hear from you if there are specific ideas, needs, and resources that you would like to see from us (to reach us, comment below or write us at editorial (at) thekitchn.com).

And I also think every day about the letter I (with the team) wrote you last month. There is an ongoing upheaval and examination happening across much of food media right now, and we are in the middle of our own process, beginning an audit of our work and past recipes, and taking steps to make Kitchn a more effective and vigorous ally in anti-racism and equity for cooks and storytellers. I will share more about this in future letters.

In the midst of the work we do, I find it extremely centering to go back to the kitchen, and to use my time there learning from other cooks and listening to the way they teach about the world through food. (Bryant’s book makes this extra-rich, as he always includes a piece of music to pair with his recipes!)

What I’m Cooking in July

So let me close this letter with a few recipes I am loving and learning from right now. Fair warning: Most of these aren’t linked here and may require some patience or a book check-out on your part, but isn’t that what summer vacation is all about?

  • Bryant Terry’s umami powder is his personal take on a long lineage of savory, flavor-bumping powders in vegan cooking. This one is a porcini-powered knockout! — Vegetable Kingdom, page 239
  • That umami powder is a secret ingredient in Bryant’s charred lemon and spinach sauce, which is on page 154 of Vegetable Kingdom, a page that in my book is now marked with a grass-green smear, a permanent watermark on how stunningly alive and full of flavor this recipe is. I tossed it with brand new potatoes and it’s going in a Top 10 Recipes of the Year file.
  • Okay, and I have so many others bookmarked from Vegetable Kingdom — recipes that really promise to show vegetables in new ways I’ve never imagined (so much heat, charring, sour, punched-up flavors!). But one last one that I am actually cooking today is another sauce: collard-peanut pesto (page 119), as I can never get enough of pestos that move past good old basil. (This one has miso in it, which should excite you.)
  • Another book I’ve been just tearing through is Kristina Gill’s Tasting Rome, a book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time but feel like vacation is the perfect time to cook through systematically. I have the radicchio and gorgonzola supplì (Roman-style rice croquettes, page 42) on a vacation evening plan, along with prosciutto and olives.
  • The cocktail chapter in Tasting Rome is also extremely good; I think we’ve already made four of the recipes? Drinks like Cynar spritz (page 238) and Cosa Nostra di Patrick Pistolesi (page 234) are the closest I’ve come in quarantine to feeling like I’m having a grown-up drink out somewhere nice.
  • And then, I discovered that my 4-year-old was more excited than I’ve ever seen her when she found out you can make marshmallows from scratch. We made our classic recipe here and added a) violet food coloring and b) unicorn sprinkles. If you’ve never had a good homemade marshmallow it’s a fun summer project (no oven!).
  • I also handed my 4-year-old Fany Gerson’s beautiful book, Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories, and asked her to pick one to make: Jury is still out, as this book is so tempting through and through, but ice cream is definitely happening.
  • Another Kitchn recipe on my agenda is our great fried chicken recipe (Meghan’s masterpiece).
  • Last but not least, we have a brand-new recipe coming soon from Amelia: peach tahini tart with sesame seeds, Greek yogurt, and basil. I have a sneak peek and am baking it today (you will love this one).

All right that’s it from me: I am going to disappear back into vacation with books, Popsicles, and too many recipes to try. Happy July, and I hope you find some real pleasure and refuge in the kitchen this month.

Credit: Rachel Barehl

Waiting for the tomatoes to get good,


Our letter from the editor series appears the first Monday of every monthYou can follow Faith on Instagram here.