An Onion in My Pocket – Deborah Madison Quick Bites – Book GiveawayAugust 17, 2021 by Jenny
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.
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.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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