Chef-writer Sarah Copeland, a former recipe developer for the Food Network, has a motto: Couples who cook together, stay together.
Her latest book, The Newlywed Cookbook (released at the end of 2011), is based on the principle that the start of a life together is the perfect time to develop good relationship habits in the kitchen, like buying nutritious, quality ingredients and eating healthy meals as a twosome.
“It’s all about making the kitchen and your garden or farmer’s market the center of a vibrant life together,” Copeland says. “So much adventure, joy, and happiness springs from the time you spend together at the table with the one you love.” (Or potential disagreements if your cooking and eating preferences don’t line up.)
Here’s what she stocks in the fridge she shares with her own significant other and their 18-month-old daughter.
Is that milk in the bell jar on the top shelf? It looks like you have lots of different kinds. We do like our dairy. The cow’s milk is mostly for my daughter. I’m really committed to buying only organic, and if possible, not ultra-pasteurized. My husband and I mostly drink nut milks.
The milk in the bell jar is kefir. We made it with a culture that belongs to my husband’s mother in Hungary. The culture eats the lactose and results in an easy-to-digest, slightly soured milk. It’s an acquired taste, one I’m still acquiring.
Yogurt is my favorite dairy of all—for the probiotics, and because plain whole-milk organic yogurt is so insanely versatile in both sweet and savory cooking. It replaces mayo, creme fraiche, sour cream, or cream cheese in our house.
Tell us about the rye flour. What do you make with it? I’m crazy about alternative flours of all kind. Rye is one of my new favorites, along with spelt, barley, and coconut flours. They’re higher in fiber and proteins and make delicious foods and baked goods with great texture. I use these in the Apple Rye Pancakes I developed for my forthcoming cookbook, Mostly Vegetarian (out in 2013) and in a dreamy Strawberry Rye Bar that will be in the book, too.
On the middle shelf, what’s in the other glass jar next to the lentils? Kimchi! I love it and finally discovered that making it is so easy. It’s the pickling project I’m most proud of, but it truly couldn’t be more simple.
Is the tub of tahini for hummus? Yes, making hummus homemade is truly worth it. It’s far healthier that way, and so incredibly delicious. By soaking beans overnight and cooking them fresh you eliminate a lot of the sodium of canned ones. I add a little onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and sea salt to the cooking liquid so the beans are flavorful and ready for anything from salads to hummus.
What’s in the wrapped meat packages? That’s arctic char, which we have once a week, and sea bream. Both are sustainable fish, and our family’s main protein. My husband is a long-time strict vegetarian turned fish-eater, and I’m a former carnivore turned mostly vegetarian and fish-eater). Arctic char is our big favorite for it’s mild flavor and high-omega-3s. My daughter Greta devours it. One of my absolute favorite recipes in my book is a Seared Arctic Char dish with fresh Sorrel Pesto, which I’ll probably make tonight.
Sounds delicious! But back to couple-cooking: What if your partner is cooking-averse? Any tips for turning them on to it? I know a thing about that! My husband does many, many things well, but when we met, cooking was not one of them. He’s a great eater though, and through the enjoyment of really good, from-scratch cooking everyday, he’s been joining me in the kitchen more and more.
I taught him three easy techniques: scrambling eggs so they are soft and tender, making perfect fluffy oatmeal-yogurt pancakes, and how to make killer pizza (the Gardener’s Pizza from my book), then praised his buns off every time he made them. Now he really owns those meals in our home, and it’s so much fun to sit down to a meal he cooked for us! —Lisa Elaine Held