Since she was young, Julia Turshen, author of numerous award-winning cookbooks, has always been cooking. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn by a magnetic force to the kitchen. It’s where I’ve always wanted to be,” she says. In her newest book, Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food (Harper Wave, 2021), Turshen assembles a collection of recipes with a nutritious take on the simple, comforting meals she grew up with. Here, we share a few of Turshen’s juiciest cooking insights and tips from her book.
What home cooking means
To me, home cooking is about sustaining family or whomever you live with. It happens daily and is a continuous cycle of one meal feeding the next. It’s also one of the things that pretty much everyone in the world has in common, which I think is extraordinary. When I’m cooking, I often pause to think about how many people are doing this at the same time, which creates a deep sense of connection.
Definition of healthy eating
Healthy eating is a very loving thing. It’s as much the food I’m eating as it is how I feel when I’m eating it. It’s also a deep sense of connection to myself and people around me, to the people who grew the food or who prepared it, not to mention to the people I’m eating it with.
Nostalgia As An Ingredient
Nostalgia is one of my favorite ingredients. When I cook, I am trying to get in touch with all of the family who came before me from Eastern Europe and those memories, with a goal of recreating or putting a different spin on foods I grew up with.
3 Cooking Tips
1. “Always think about your future self. If you are going to make a batch of cookie dough, why not double it and freeze the second batch to cook another day? If making a pot of rice, double it and keep extra in a container in the fridge to pull out and make a quick fried rice or side dish.”
2. I can never have enough kitchen towels; they are a very versatile tool. I use them for everything, from drying produce I just washed, to folding and using as an oven mitt. I use a towel to squeeze out grated potatoes to make potato latkes.
3. If you love to bake, I encourage using a digital scale. It took me a bit to adjust and be open to using one, but it simplifies everything. You can mix all ingredients into one bowl without dirtying measuring spoons and cups. And you will guarantee the final baked good will turn out just as the recipe intends.
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