Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How I Was Seduced By Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwynnie seduced me slowly. It started with a review of her first cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, in People Magazine. It piqued my interest and I wondered in passing if it was as good as the review said it was.

About a week later I was in BJs, the questionably named Northeast equivalent of Costco. My Father’s Daughter was calling to me from the book section. I paged through the book and thought a lot of the recipes looked good and were things that I would make. But still, I chose to move on to fill my cart with a mother lode of toilet paper.  The next day I logged on to Amazon and right on the homepage Amazon was suggesting My Father’s Daughter was “something you may like”. I took it as a sign and ordered it.

Why was I so fearful of The Blonde One? First and foremost, I swore off celebrity cookbooks a long time ago. Just because you can win an Oscar, sing a song fairly well or play a mean game of football does not mean you can cook. I (perhaps unfairly) assumed celebrities got publishing contracts for cookbooks because they were celebrities, not because the recipes were any good or all that original. And I’ve never been a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t hate her, but I certainly don’t love her. I would describe the way I feel about her as “meh”. And a post on her Goop blog about how she was a ball of stress choosing a gown for a big awards ceremony did not endear her to me. If only all of us had choosing a designer dress as the most stressful issue in our lives.

I will be the first to admit that I misjudged GP. I loved My Father’s Daughter and have cooked many yummy things from it such as Cheesy Stuffed Burgers (made with turkey and a kid and husband favorite) , Leek and Gruyere Frittata and Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins. The recipes aren’t terribly original, but instead are her own take on the classics with simplicity and flavor being key. And it introduced me to the wonder that is Veganaise. So it was a given that I would preorder her latest book, It’s All Good, when the folks at Amazon alerted me to the fact that it was in the pipeline.

The first thing I will say about It’s All Good has nothing to do with food – it’s the photographs. I am 99.9% sure that Gwyneth is not wearing a lick of makeup in any of the photos! I assume she’s trying to be down to earth and natural, just like the food in her book. Now THAT endeared Gwynnie to me. And I want to know what she uses on her skin – it looks fabulous!

Just like it’s predecessor , It’s All Good is full of yummy recipes. Rather than filling the book with recipes that remind her of family and home as she did in her first book, this book focuses on “pure” and healthy recipes. They are inspired by a recent decline in Gwyneth’s health and the discovery of food allergies in her children that were put right by a whole-foods diet with a bit of elimination diet thrown in. As a result, the book is largely gluten and sugar free. While in principal I’m fine with this (I am all about eating good, minimally processed, chemical and preservative free foods),  I wondered if the lack of sugar and gluten would make this book a dud. I needn’t (is that word?) have worried as I’ve made some delicious things from this book;  Barbecued Chicken Spanish Style, Lentil Salad with Mustard and Tomatoes and Japanese Chicken Meatballs (a HUGE hit with Jake and Ben). Although in the interest of full disclosure, I thought her elimination diet was a bit neurotic. Thankfully, this makes up a small portion of the recipes in the book.

While I will I will not be cooking a whole fish in salt in the outdoor roasting pit I have in my backyard (not!) like GP, I enjoyed the simple, whole-foods recipes It’s All Good contains and will be cooking from it for a long time to come.

In book news – I just started Dan Brown’s latest, Inferno. I know Dan Brown’s novels are very controversial. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em (I am not ashamed to admit I fall in the “love” column). I’d love to know what you all think.

In other news – on Saturday we became a cat family! We adopted Maggie and Stella, two adult black cats (well, Maggie has some white on her) and we are all enjoying the new members of our family, especially Jake and Ben!

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