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9 Essential Cooking Tips from Food Writer Laurie Colwin

Feed your loved ones — and stay sane while doing it – with these words of wisdom from Home Cooking.

9 Essential Cooking Tips from Food Writer Laurie Colwin

Beloved food writer Laurie Colwin was known for her witty and honest stories of her adventures in the kitchen, both delicious and disastrous. She was also the voice of reason for harried home cooks, who wanted to put something satisfying on the table without too much stress.

We searched through her classic book Home Cooking and found the nine most helpful tips for feeding your loved ones — and staying sane while doing it.


1. Small budget? Don’t sweat it.

I do not believe that you have to spend a lot of money to eat well: it is hard to beat a plain old baked potato.”

2. Never pay full price for fancy supplies.

“As to baking, which requires a great deal of specific equipment, my motto is: never buy anything except at a tag sale. “

3. When in doubt, serve potato salad.

“There is no such thing as really bad potato salad.”

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4. Creamy sauce makes vegetables easier to swallow.

“A person who dunks an asparagus spear into a puddle of homemade mayonnaise will end up eating the asparagus unless you have on your hands the kind of hard case who will lick the sauce off and then stick the asparagus back in for more.”

5. Establish a favorite family dish.

“When the chips are down, the spirit is exhausted and the body hungry, the same old thing is a great consolation.”

6. The key to healthy eating is listening to your body.

“I have always believed that if you listen to your food cravings (I do not mean your constant desire for chocolate brownies) they will tell you what you need. If you long for bananas, it may be potassium you need.”

7. For easy weeknight suppers, nothing beats soup.

“There must be more recipes for soup than any other thing. It is a true convenience food and has been since Esau sold his birthright for a plate of lentil soup. Vegetables simmered in plain water with herbs and a little butter make a fine soup and so do beans and meat, which must be simmered for hours. Even these soups are easy: you put them on the stove and leave them alone.”

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8. Chicken salad can be the most versatile dish in your repertoire.

“Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it. Like the little black dress, it is chic and adaptable and can be taken anywhere. You can dress it down and feed it to a child, or dress it up and serve it at a dinner party. You can accessorize it in an interesting way and astonish your friends at lunch.”

9. When all else fails, order delivery.

(After a catastrophic fish bake) “As appears to be traditional with me, a large pizza was the real end of this grisly experience.”

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