Molly Yeh’s Latest Cookbook Is Full of Cozy, Comforting Recipes
Molly Yeh, best-selling cookbook author and star of Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, just released her third cookbook, Home Is Where the Eggs Are. A few weeks ago, Molly and I hopped on the phone to chat about the new book, and let’s just say things heated up quickly. Literally! Just as we were saying hello to one another, Molly suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, no! Fire!” and promptly hung up. As it turns out, I had just been witness to — via telephone — Molly Yeh’s first oven fire.
Luckily, the fire was small and very easily contained so we were quickly able to resume our conversation, which focused on how things have changed since the release of her first book, Molly on the Range, in 2016. Most notably, her family of two has grown into a family of four. She and her husband, Nick, now have two daughters, Bernie and Ira. We talked about her process for developing a cookbook the third time around, as well as what she and her family are eating these days, which is really the heart and soul of Home Is Where the Eggs Are.
Wow, are you alright? What happened?
I was just pulling cinnamon swirl bread out of the oven, and some of the butter and sugar dripped to the bottom of the oven, and it was literally on fire!
Oh my god! That is so funny. I was going to ask what you were making. That has definitely happened to me before. How many oven fires would you say you’ve had in your life?
I don’t think I’ve had any fires in the oven! This is the first time. I’ve had stuff on the stove go a little haywire, but never within the oven where I opened it up and there were actual flames.
Well, I have to say I’m a bit honored to be a sort of witness to your first oven fire! Alright, so I know this is your third book, but a lot has changed in your life over the last few years. What was the recipe development process like this time around?
Yeah, Molly on the Range was very much about big celebratory foods, party foods, like weekend projects, and foods that I would just only make a few times a year but really, really love. This is more foods that we love on an everyday basis. Once Bernie was born and she started eating solid food, I realized that these are the recipes that I want to have as our family meals and family breakfasts and everything. Because, honestly, before Bernie, I was never a three-meals-a-day person. I would just kind of snack on whatever I was recipe testing for my blog or books or whatnot.
Are you a breakfast person?
Yes, I’m totally a breakfast person. But before Bernie, I would just like grab a green juice. But now I love to sit down and read her a book and make something a little special out of breakfast time. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve just been sort of refining our favorite foods and the dinners that we come back to time and time again. The smoothies that we all love. The toast that we come back to, and the breads that I bake on the weekend.
The main difference between simply making them to eat, versus making them with the intention of putting them in the book, was that every time we would sit down to dinner, I would be grilling Nick. How does it taste? Does it need more of this? Does it need more of that? Then I would be up late that night just wondering, Should I have done this a little bit differently?
Ha! The life of a recipe developer.
You know how it is! My brain was a little bit on overdrive anytime we would sit down. I will say it’s kind of nice to be able to just enjoy food and not have to analyze every single bite now.
I can imagine. Would you say that Bernie is a picky eater or a more open and curious eater?
She’s pretty picky. She takes after me. But at the same time there are things that she loves to eat that I never ever would have eaten when I was her age. Like she loves salmon, she loves avocado. She inhales broccoli!
Broccoli? That’s very impressive. So, what recipes have you been cooking from the book lately?
Honestly, this truly is our family repertoire. Like this weekend, since it’s finally not 100 degrees in Grand Forks, I’m going to be making Chicken and Star Soup. That is one of our favorites. We also have a variation on the Crunchy Asian Slaw all the time. Bernie loves potstickers, so we usually do frozen potstickers with that slaw.
I just got actual copies of the book, and it is so nice now when I need to make a cake, or anything really, that I don’t have to go into my files and pull it out these gigantic sheets from the editing phase. Now I can just open up the book!
That’s so nice. And I’m curious about the title of the book. How did you decide on Home Is Where the Eggs Are?
It’s sort of a nod to a few different things. It’s a nod to our chickens and their beautiful eggs. The chickens are getting a little bit older now. We only have a few left, but they were one of the first family members that we added when we moved to the farm. It’s also a nod to the fact that Nick’s nickname for the longest time on my blog was Egg Boy because he loves eggs.
The title really represents this idea that you turn a house into a home, in my opinion, by cooking something. And it can be as simple as scrambling an egg, because you do that, and you have the smell of the butter cooking, the sound of the crackling, and then gathering around the table to eat together. That, in my mind, is what makes just a space into a place where there are memories and where there’s warmth and coziness and the feeling of home.
Absolutely. That’s beautiful. Switching gears a bit, I like to play this game where I set the stage — like a day, a time, a mood — and then you tell me what you would suggest making from the book. So, for example, it’s Sunday night. It’s one of those first crisp fall evenings. Sweatshirt season has just begun. What would you make?
Okay, so truly my go-to Sunday afternoon ritual when it’s chilly is making the Chicken and Star Soup. That is my favorite Sunday afternoon routine. I realized as soon as I became a mother that I need to have a go-to chicken soup recipe. We need to have this for the holidays. We need to have this for when Bernie is home sick from school.
And, so, when it was just Bernie, and Ira wasn’t yet in the picture, every Sunday afternoon during her nap time, I would get the stock going, and the smell would go all throughout the house. It’s just perfect. I would make a big batch so that we could have leftovers throughout the week, too.
Oh, I love that. Alright. Next one. It’s Tuesday morning. You’re in a rush. You’re trying to get the kids ready to go to school, but you want them to eat something somewhat substantial before they head out the door.
Okay, so there are three. The first is smoothies. The first few recipes in the book are three smoothies that we love. We are all big smoothie drinkers, and all three of them have secret vegetables blended in that you can’t taste. They’re all just really good and easy to throw together.
And then I also love the Seedy Halva Fairy Toast. We’re big on toast. Oh, and the Feta and Za’atar Omelet Roll-Ups are so easy and filling, too!
Love that. Okay, another one. You’re dating somebody new, and you haven’t cooked for them yet. You want to impress them with your kitchen skills. What would you make?
That’s a good one! Okay, I’m trying to think of what’s not too garlick-y so you don’t have bad garlic breath. And, also, no beans. Right? You can’t have beans.
Definitely not. No beans! I will say, though, I’m not against pasta. A lot of people are against pasta on a first date, but I think that it’s fair game.
I agree! Okay, let’s see what pasta? Oh, oh! The Preserved Lemon Pappardelle with Fried Pine Nuts, Feta, and Zucchini just explodes with flavor. It’s really pretty and it’s casual enough, but it’s also special. And you can kind of just be like, “Oh, this old thing? I just threw this together.”
High impact, low effort. We love that! I’ve heard from a lot of cookbook authors that there’s always something that surprises them during the process, no matter how many books they’ve done in the past. I was wondering if there’s anything that you were surprised about during the process of writing this book?
I was surprised that the most rewarding and creatively fulfilling part of this book was actually all of the writing and the headnotes. I basically stopped my blog; it took a little bit of a backseat when I became a mom, and when I was working more on the book, and working more on Girl Meets Farm. So it had been quite some time since I had really sat down and truly written something. You know how sometimes if you take a little bit of time off from doing anything, whether it’s like working out or frosting cakes, you come back to it and you realize that it’s been so long since you’d last done that thing? It was like the first workout after not working out for a few weeks, you’re like, “Wow, I’m sore, but that feels really good.”
I can definitely relate to that.
That was truly a soul-fulfilling process. After all the recipes were tested and in a great place, I was living at my in-law’s house because we were renovating ours, and I would trap myself in the basement every day and just sit under a blanket and write. I rediscovered a lot of voice that I felt had gone a little bit missing for a while, and I found an enjoyment in it that I didn’t realize was missing from my life. I was like, wow, this is a muscle that I don’t want to let go by the wayside again.
Absolutely. I know as a mom it can be hard to carve out that time for yourself. Do you think in that sense, that being a mom has changed the way that you cook?
Definitely. I went back to the whole idea of wanting to have sit-down dinners every night the way that I did growing up. Then also needing to make sure that these tiny growing bodies are getting nutrition, and are getting excited about food, and are trying new things, and are helping out in the kitchen.
When it was just Nick and me, Nick would come in after a long day, and I would be lost in some sort of donut recipe for my blog, and we would just sit and eat it in front of the TV. But now it’s like, “No, we should make sure there’s a well-balanced meal.” We want Bernie to get excited about what she’s eating, and all sit down together and really enjoy each other’s company.
Well, I guess my last question would be who would you say that this book is for? Do you envision it for families specifically? Or would you say there’s something in there for everyone?
It’s definitely for families, but it doesn’t have to be for families. These recipes are accessible for cooks of any level, and if you’re busy, there is so much in here for you. It’s about making big batches of things to store in the freezer or making a big casserole that you can enjoy leftovers of the next day. Of course, there are some quick and easy recipes for everyday eating, but it really is a mix. Overall, though, this book is really about cooking for the people you love to eat with and who you can truly be yourself around.