An Onion in My Pocket – Deborah Madison Quick Bites – Book Giveaway

Enter our US/worldwide giveaway to win one of three paperback copies of An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables by Deborah Madison. Two copies provided by the publisher to US members and one copy provided by EYB to a member outside the US. Deborah has events scheduled so be sure to check out our calendar including one this evening.

Today is the publication date of the paperback edition of Deborah Madison’s food memoir An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables. To celebrate we have a giveaway and a Quick Bites feature with the legendary chef.


From the author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone comes a captivating memoir that also gives us an insider’s look at the vegetarian movement. I just received my copy last week and have just started to read it and am enjoying the beautiful writing.

Thanks to her beloved cookbooks and groundbreaking work as the chef at Greens restaurant in San Francisco, Deborah Madison, though not a vegetarian herself, has long been revered as this country’s leading authority on vegetables. She profoundly changed the way generations of Americans think about cooking with vegetables, helping to transform “vegetarian” from a dirty word into a mainstream way of eating. But before she became a household name, Madison spent almost twenty years as an ordained Buddhist priest, coming of age in the midst of counterculture San Francisco.

In this charming memoir, she tells her story – and with it the story of the vegetarian movement – for the very first time. From her childhood in Big Ag Northern California to working in the kitchen of the then-new Chez Panisse (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), and from the birth of food TV to the age of green markets everywhere, An Onion in My Pocket is as much the story of the evolution of American foodways as it is the memoir of the woman at the forefront. It is a deeply personal look at the rise of vegetable-forward cooking, and a manifesto for how to eat well.


Deborah Madison is an American chef, food writer and cooking teacher. She is an expert on vegetarian cooking and her gourmet repertoire showcases fresh garden produce. See Deborah’s website for her full bio.

Q: What first triggered your interest in cooking? What is your first cooking memory?

I did write about this in my memoir, An Onion in My Pocket.  What triggered my interest in cooking was the discovery that food could taste good – every night of the week!  My parents had gone to Europe and farmed each of us 4 kids out to different families.  I went to live with a couple who loved good food (and growing it) who had spent several sabbaticals in Bordeaux. That was the start of it all for me.

One of my first food memories was also with this couple. We had gone for a hike in Mt. Lassen, California, but we changed our plans when we found morels.  We filled our hats with the mushrooms and then went to find butter and cream. We already had a crisp white wine waiting in the motel refrigerator.  Both of these events happened when I was sixteen.  My parents had kids and not much money so this was quite an eye opener.

Q: If you had to describe your cooking style, what would it be?

Right now it’s rather eclectic. I love Turkish food, food from the Eastern Mediterranean, and of course Italian food of all kinds. Simple foods and big flavors.

I also cook for my husband who likes his meat and I join him. (I’m not a vegetarian although we both had many years being so and we tend to like that food as well.) During the pandemic I cooked a lot from my books  – a treat – as well as others’ books— like Ottolenghi. One book I especially like is The New Homemade Kitchen by Joseph Shuldiner, who sadly died before the book came out.

 Because of the drought I don’t have much of a garden this year, but because of the heat I do have tomatoes! And squash and melon. They’re coming along but we’ll see. I think we will go beyond our October freeze date.

Q: Are you a cookbook collector? If so, tell us about your collection?

Not so much anymore, but I certainly used to be.  Even though I’ve given away hundreds of books, I still have a pretty good bookshelf full. My second bookcase is more for books on botany and food issues.  A lot of my cookbooks are “old-fashioned” books I’ve drawn from in the past, especially at Greens. But they are mixed in with quite a few contemporary books as well.  Since I am now more focused on grains for baking, I have some very exciting books on baking with ancient grains.


Q: What is the best part of your job? Do you sometimes feel like working with food all day keeps you from wanting to get creative in the kitchen for yourself?

Actually, what I especially like is going back and forth between writing and cooking.   It’s the mental and physical attribute I enjoy.  It’s a good balance for me.

 I don’t feel that working with food all day keeps me from wanting to get creative in the kitchen for myself. But In the past, when I finished a book, I asked myself ”What do I want to cook and eat?” It was so liberating to go to the farmers market or my garden and just choose so foods to cook that I wanted to cook without weighing, measuring and timing. But there was plenty of opportunity for cooking foods I liked—and creatively— when writing cookbooks, except when I had to test recipes that weren’t in season.

During the summer months I am mostly in my garden.  It’s too hot to cook—and even to garden sometimes.

Q: What is your go to for a quick dinner or a quick dessert?

A cauliflower and tomato curry (from In My Kitchen) is one of my current favorites and I doesn’t take me long to make it.  And I love the recipe in the same book for black eyed peas with herbs, tahini, and black rice. I’ve been cooking for so long that there are many dishes that are easy for me to make, but I know that might not be true for everyone.

We seldom eat dessert today, but I did write a dessert book (Seasonal Fruit Desserts from Orchard, Farm and Market) and I’ll use that for fruit desserts. That or Lindsay Shere’s book (Chez Panisse Desserts.) If company is coming, I’ll make a Buttermilk Panna Cotta and serve it with a sauce of some special fruit that’s in season.  I am a pretty seasonal cook so that’s what dictates what we eat and what I cook, regardless

Q: Tell us about your new book.

Probably the first thing to know is that there are no recipes!  It’s a food memoir that goes back to my childhood in Davis, California and my first experiences with food, my time as a Zen student and priest, the monastery, then Greens, cookbooks, tours and remembered meals that are not the 3-star variety, although I’ve experienced quite a few of those. Nor are these remembered meals necessarily vegetarian.  The point was the generosity and kindness of the person who cooked for me and that’s why I remember them, sometimes decades later.

An Onion in My Pocket is, in short, about my life with vegetables but it’s also partly historical in that everyone was excited about food in the 80s and we chefs all cooked with lots of cream and butter, had mesquite grills, and made fresh pasta. It was an exciting time to be cooking.

There is also a chapter called “My Vegetarian Problem” which offers a challenge to those who think I am a vegetarian. I also write aboiut my two tenures on the Southwest Grass Fed Livestock Alliance board among other board positions, such as the Seed Savers Exchange and Slow Food, as well as those who influenced me in the kitchen.

It’s not a big book, but it covers a lot of territory.

You can follow Deborah on Facebook and through her website.

Special thanks to the publisher for providing two copies of An Onion in My Pocket to US members (and EYB is providing one additional copy outside the US to one member). Entry options include answering the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which book by Deborah Madison is your favorite or which one would you like to own?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Once you log in and enter your member name you will be directed to the next entry option – the blog comment. After that, there are additional options that you can complete for more entries. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 27th, 2021.

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139 Comments

  • gilmonster  on  August 17, 2021

    Deborah Madison’s Essential Vegetarian Cookbook is my favorite!

  • Plumbobmummy  on  August 17, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • ChicagoJen  on  August 17, 2021

    Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

    I am a good cook + not so good gardener… but I can dream!

  • lean1  on  August 17, 2021

    Greens 2007 edition

  • ktripson  on  August 17, 2021

    The Savory Way.
    Am I entered in the drawing?

    I love Deborah Madison. Love reading her and cooking her. I spent a delightful afternoon selling books with her at the Hollywood Farmers Market many years ago when I worked at the Cooks Library in L A.

  • sarahawker  on  August 17, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is my favorite

  • Delfina69  on  August 17, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks.

  • oduong930  on  August 17, 2021

    the essential vegetarian cookbook!

  • we10mom  on  August 17, 2021

    The original version of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is my most used cookbook. The dust jacket is faded and the pages are splattered and tattered, but it’s the book I always reach for.

  • bookmark77  on  August 17, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • bookmark58  on  August 17, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • rchesser  on  August 17, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian

  • thecharlah  on  August 17, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (and its newer version) is one of the best vegetarian cookbooks of all time.

  • moralla  on  August 17, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has been on my list for a while

  • maci234  on  August 18, 2021

    New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • agreaves19  on  August 18, 2021

    Greens 2007 edition

  • redcurrant  on  August 18, 2021

    Vegetable literacy

  • LeMinou  on  August 18, 2021

    Local Flavors

  • Isis1981uk  on  August 18, 2021

    I’d love to own Vegetable Literacy.

  • nvernon  on  August 18, 2021

    I have been cooking a lot from In My Kitchen recently, but also love the format of Vegetable Literacy, and I definitely want to get the newest book.

  • CallmeIshbel  on  August 19, 2021

    Deborah Madison’s New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone , brought it back to NZ from Scotland.

  • feliciakw  on  August 19, 2021

    I adore Local Flavors. Our full farmer’s market runs from March to October and a smaller market in November for all the winter veggies. Her recipes keep me inspired all year.

  • Dendav  on  August 19, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • jessamybride  on  August 19, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone i

  • JulieG1002  on  August 19, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is the book of Deborah’s that I use most.

  • emi10383  on  August 19, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • Dutchmary  on  August 20, 2021

    The essential vegetarian cookbook, if I could find it over here…

  • Ren23  on  August 20, 2021

    Vegetable Literacy is the only one I don’t own.

  • luccio  on  August 20, 2021

    Any of her books would be most welcome : )

  • Roosta  on  August 20, 2021

    Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market

  • foodie16  on  August 21, 2021

    Local Flavours: Cooking and Eating from Americas Farmers Markets

  • virjeania  on  August 21, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • lene  on  August 21, 2021

    I love Vegetable Literacy

  • dzm  on  August 21, 2021

    the Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

  • LAWG  on  August 21, 2021

    Love Deborah, The New Vegetarian Cooking is one of my favorite of her books.

  • debbiehb  on  August 21, 2021

    In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

  • Dannausc  on  August 21, 2021

    I think Vegetable Literacy is probably my favorite.

  • youngsvnnhrs  on  August 21, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • sarahteertzah  on  August 21, 2021

    I’d like to own An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables!

  • Siegal  on  August 21, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • chasteph  on  August 22, 2021

    “The new vegetarian cooking for everyone” is my favorite cookbook by Deborah Madison.

  • Tabby72  on  August 22, 2021

    I would like to own Essential Vegetarian.

  • bopper  on  August 22, 2021

    The Savoury Way

  • erhamblin7751  on  August 22, 2021

    The Savory Way: High Spirited Down-To-Earth Recipes for Savory Vegetable Dishes

  • trudys_person  on  August 22, 2021

    I need a copy of the Greens cookbook – I consider it a gap in my cookbook collection!

  • Sand9  on  August 22, 2021

    America x

  • maria411  on  August 22, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • LaurenE  on  August 22, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • Elsandra  on  August 24, 2021

    Local Flavors

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  August 24, 2021

    would like to own a copy of “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”

  • lisambb  on  August 25, 2021

    The Greens is my favorite. I use it all the time.

  • mswager  on  August 25, 2021

    I really want to read An Onion in my Pocket!

  • Lafauvette  on  August 25, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • ptkcollins  on  August 26, 2021

    I’ve never owned one of Deborah Madison’s books but Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has been on my wish-list for a long time and now I see there is a new and revised edition. I also would love to own In My Kitchen for its more personalised touch.

  • Arinelle  on  August 26, 2021

    I’d like to check out her Essential Vegetarian Cookbook!

  • MaineDruid  on  August 26, 2021

    My favorite of Deborah Madison’s books–indeed, my all-time favorite cookbook–is the old original, The Greens Cookbook, coauthored with Edward Espe Brown. All the pages are falling out of mine. I have always thought of it as Escoffier for vegetarians.

  • CookingPerson  on  August 26, 2021

    The greens cookbook

  • zeenie  on  August 27, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook sounds great

  • banba1  on  August 27, 2021

    Vegetable Literacy is a gour(d)geous book 🙂

  • JenjiD  on  August 28, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • MarciK  on  August 28, 2021

    Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

  • ceejayen  on  August 29, 2021

    Deborah Madison’s Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

  • silversand  on  August 30, 2021

    Vegetables: Made Easy with Step-by-Step Photographs

  • chezlarios  on  September 1, 2021

    In My Kitchen

  • kmn4  on  September 2, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • hbakke  on  September 2, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • Sfgordon  on  September 3, 2021

    I’m ashamed to say I don’t have Vegetable Literacy but I really should!

  • Cjennings  on  September 3, 2021

    In my kitchen

  • DimensionAEB  on  September 3, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • Shelley.b  on  September 3, 2021

    Local flavors cooking and eating from americas farmers markets

  • Megoola  on  September 4, 2021

    I have Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Vegetarian Suppers on my cookbook shelf and Vegetable Literacy on my coffee table.

  • lils74  on  September 4, 2021

    I think that would be In My Kitchen

  • girlytoes  on  September 4, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian – Love 🙂

  • maggz19671  on  September 4, 2021

    Greens 2007 edition

  • poneill  on  September 5, 2021

    The Greens Cook Book

  • michelle666  on  September 5, 2021

    Essential vegetarian

  • paulo_b  on  September 6, 2021

    Essential vegetarian cookbook

  • RickPearson54  on  September 6, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian

  • janv  on  September 6, 2021

    I think it would be In My Kitchen

  • MelW66  on  September 7, 2021

    I don’t have a favourite because I have never read any of her books before. However, I would like to own this one, An onion in my pocket.

  • AllieTaylor  on  September 8, 2021

    I’d like to win the new one! An Onion in my pocket!

  • Laura1  on  September 8, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cookbook is a favorite

  • tkrongold  on  September 9, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  September 10, 2021

    I love Vegetable Literacy.

  • biro  on  September 10, 2021

    Seasonal Fruit Desserts

  • avonleajules  on  September 10, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian Cookbook is my favorite

  • Karla123  on  September 12, 2021

    I’d love to own “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom.”

  • dbranigan27  on  September 13, 2021

    I would like to have a copy of The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

  • teresaamueller  on  September 14, 2021

    The new vegetrian cooking for everyone

  • PixieDee  on  September 15, 2021

    I would love to own The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, to help get my partner eating more vegetarian items, he may enjoy.

  • Pizzacat13  on  September 16, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is on my list of cookbooks to own (it’s a long list).

  • sayeater  on  September 16, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is a classic! I would love to read her memoir.

  • stulled  on  September 16, 2021

    I would like to read What We Eat When We Eat Alone

  • RSW  on  September 17, 2021

    Own: The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
    would love: Seasonal Fruit Desserts

  • elysedc  on  September 19, 2021

    The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine

  • Dhasenkampf  on  September 21, 2021

    The Savory Way

  • babiafi  on  September 24, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian Cookbook is probably my go to.

  • Yatota74  on  September 25, 2021

    The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant

  • joke7  on  September 25, 2021

    In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

  • clairew137  on  September 26, 2021

    essential vegetarian cookbook

  • eroachTN  on  September 28, 2021

    The Savory Way

  • ktb601  on  September 28, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian Cookbook!

  • Leonard5854  on  September 28, 2021

    An Onion in My Pocket, please

  • orchidlady01  on  September 29, 2021

    Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

  • KarenDel  on  September 29, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • sheridarby  on  September 29, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Martha64  on  September 30, 2021

    I’d love to own Essential Vegetarian.

  • Kellyroxannesmith  on  September 30, 2021

    In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes
    Sounds great thanks

  • Dutchmary  on  September 30, 2021

    I dont know her, would love to get to know her

  • ClaireHamilton  on  September 30, 2021

    New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • PatBarrett  on  September 30, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • Maefleur  on  September 30, 2021

    I loved Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and gifted it to someone before a big move. I’d really like to have the new version.

  • Twiddle  on  September 30, 2021

    Essential Vegetarian

  • aesop57  on  October 1, 2021

    The New Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Janetr1970  on  October 1, 2021

    The new vegetarian cooking for everyone

  • tpresent  on  October 1, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – but tough choice!

  • JEWGAL777  on  October 1, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone

  • NatalyaM  on  October 1, 2021

    I would love to start with “An Onion in My Pocket.”

  • VeganRV  on  October 1, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has been my “Joy of Cooking” forever

  • jd5761  on  October 2, 2021

    Deborah Madison’s Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Shelmar  on  October 3, 2021

    I would like to add Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen to my collection.

  • GillB  on  October 6, 2021

    Essential vegetarian

  • DIANEMJACKSON5  on  October 6, 2021

    New Vegetarian cooking for everyone

  • dtremit  on  October 8, 2021

    I adore Vegetable Literacy — I have learned so much from it!

  • Rosscoe  on  October 8, 2021

    I’d like to own Vegetable Literacy

  • molly57  on  October 9, 2021

    I’d like to own “An Onion In My Pocket”

  • t.t  on  October 9, 2021

    I’d love to own Local Flavors

  • ktpotat  on  October 9, 2021

    local Flavors

  • CatsintheKitchen  on  October 10, 2021

    I guess I don’t have a version of Greens, but I should!

  • CatsintheKitchen  on  October 10, 2021

    Greens

  • Badgerlord  on  October 14, 2021

    Greens or the seasonal dessert book

  • GreenhouseCheryl  on  October 16, 2021

    I own Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and use it often – thanks to the help of Eat Your Books in finding recipes.

  • JustFiz  on  October 17, 2021

    I don’t yet have any Deborah Madison recipe books. In My Kitchen looks good!

  • lilmiztam22  on  October 17, 2021

    I would love to own Essential vegetarian cookbook, I’m not a vegetarian but trying to eat less meat so would love to get some inspiration

  • AEA  on  October 17, 2021

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • andyszym  on  October 17, 2021

    In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

  • tarae1204  on  October 19, 2021

    Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market

  • hibeez  on  October 24, 2021

    I love Vegetable Literacy! Mostly because I am a gardener, and I appreciate her stories — and that its organized by vegetable!!

  • Dwoz  on  October 24, 2021

    Vegetable Literacy

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