Love Real Food
More than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body
By Kathryne Taylor
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book podcast with me, Suzy Chase.
Kathryne: I'm Kathryne Taylor, and I wrote the cookbook called Love Real Food.
Suzy Chase: You have more than 100 meatless recipes in this cookbook. What makes it different from the other vegetarian cookbooks?
Kathryne: Well, that's a good question. I think that ... So I've been blogging for over seven years now, and I do feel like the book is sort of an extension of what I do on the blog, so in the book you'll find very fresh and wholesome recipes using just mostly really standard grocery store ingredients. I like to get creative with those, so they're easy to find, and the results ... I mean, I work really hard to make sure that the flavors are just sort of like boom, just right, and I offer all the details you'll need to get a finished dish that you'll be just really excited about.
So I don't know. I don't know how to describe how that's different from other vegetarian cookbooks, but I do try to make it very vibrant and delicious.
Suzy Chase: So you have America's most popular vegetarian food blog, Cookie and Kate. Talk a little bit about that.
Kathryne: Well, it is just ... Honestly, it's my dream job. I absolutely love what I do, and I feel lucky every day that I get to do it. It's really ... It stretches me creatively to always be coming up with new ideas. It perpetually amazes me that me sharing a recipe two to three times a week somehow turns into a library of recipes that people come to and get nourishment from and learn how to cook from and learn how to become a vegetarian from. So, it's really rewarding and creatively satisfying, and it's always stretching me.
Suzy Chase: When did the blog start?
Kathryne: I started it in 2010. I was actually working at an office job in Oklahoma City, and I was very, very bored, so I decided I would start a website, just an ambiguous blog as a creative project.
Suzy Chase: Tell us about your chief crumb catcher, Cookie.
Kathryne: That's Cookie. She is a rescued dog. I found her maybe a year before I started the blog. I think I had recently graduated from college, and I had grown up with dogs. I always wanted my own dog, and one day, I kind of had a light bulb moment like, "Hey, look. I'm a responsible adult. I could get a dog." So I started this deep, deep search for this dog that would be what I wanted, and I found Cookie on PetFinder.com. She was in Tulsa, and I got to speak to someone who had fostered her before, so I got to learn more about her personality, but she is [inaudible 00:02:57], and everyone remarks on how happy she is. She's exuberant and a very big force in my life.
Suzy Chase: Was she a puppy when you got her?
Kathryne: No, I was hoping to find a puppy, but she was about a year old. So, the awesome part about that is that she'd had all her shots. She was potty-trained, and she had some bad habits already too.
You know, the nice part about getting a dog that's a year old is that you can actually know what you're getting into.
Suzy Chase: You are a huge proponent of whole foods. What are whole foods exactly, and what are a few of your whole food guidelines?
Kathryne: Well, my definition of whole foods is just foods that are close to the source as possible. So you've got an apple. That's really close to the apple tree in its whole farm, so you've got that on one side. Then you've got maybe Kraft Mac and Cheese on the other side, and there are a lot of additives, preservatives, ingredients that started out one way and have been tumbled through chemical processes to turn into something else. So I just try to stick with foods that are as close to the source as possible.
And honestly, that can be ... Super foods are so popular right now, but so many basic ingredients are super foods like cabbage is incredible. Yeah, that's my stance. I try to use whole grains as much as possible, and I would include responsibly sourced dairy as a whole food and so on.
Suzy Chase: The term super food always confuses me. What are like maybe your top three super foods that you go to right now?
Kathryne: So I don't really use any crazy ingredients like goji berries, but I do love matcha tea. I've actually gotten into that. Matcha's cool because it's like ... I mean, it is green tea, but you're actually consuming the tea leaves, so you get extra antioxidants from that rather than just stepping the tea leaves. I'm trying to think of some other ones. Extra virgin olive oil has so many researched benefits. I just don't think super foods ... Like I'm not using chaga mushrooms or anything like that.
Suzy Chase: Whatever those are.
Suzy Chase: Was it hard to pivot from blogging about food to writing a cookbook?
Kathryne: Honestly it felt very natural, but there were a lot more deadlines imposed, and there were outside opinions that I had to navigate. Fortunately, I was just working with an editor and publisher who really believed in my vision for the book so it was really just a matter of me advocating for myself and mostly getting what I wanted, but it was just ... With the blog, the recipes, I publish them more organically . I might not have them on a list several months in advance, but with the cookbook, it was like I recognized that I was dealing with a static collection of recipes, and I wanted to make sure that if I was going to include a veggie burger, it had to be the best veggie burger I could possibly come up with. Stuff like that. I just wanted a very balanced collection and put a lot of thought into how the recipes would work on their own and together.
Suzy Chase: One of your favorite people is Michael Pollan. What are some things you learned from him about eating well?
Kathryne: He's kind of my hero. So, I read the Omnivores Dilemma after graduating from college. I'd always been interesting in nutrition, but I didn't ... At that point I thought maybe no sugar Yoplait yogurt was healthy, and his philosophy on whole foods and eating intuitively with the seasons just absolutely clicked with me and made so much sense, and when I learned more from his books about how conventional meat industry handles the animals, having always been a picky meat eater myself, and growing up ... Actually my dad and brothers hunt, so I was always more aware that I was actually eating animals when I was eating meat, and so once I learned more about it, I just decided I'm going to pass on meat all together. So he taught me a whole lot.
Suzy Chase: So it's late November, and you wrote on your blog, Cookie and Kate, "We've lost corn, cucumber and eggplant." What are your go-tos for cooler weather?
Kathryne: I love sweet potatoes. I love savory sweet potatoes. I don't like them with extra sugar on them. I love butternut squash. I love hearty stews and whole grains and salads that have kale, which is just offers more heft. Whole grains like [inaudible 00:08:10], wild rice, some beans, always beans, yeah so much good stuff to be eating this time of year.
Suzy Chase: For anyone who's interested in blogging or has a blog already, how did you grow it and keep the engagement up?
Kathryne: That is such a big question. Sometimes I don't even know. I feel really lucky, that I'm glad that I got into it when I did because I know that now it was be even more challenging, but to be fair, I already had a background in marketing, and I knew how to build websites, so that was tremendously helpful. I think that I have always been a little bit more tech savvy than most people, to be honest. So, just I think it's really important to know how websites work and to learn about them and to learn about marketing, but beyond that, it's just you have to super passionate about what you're doing and wanting to reach people, and that needs to be the drive.
Suzy Chase: How do you schedule your day?
Kathryne: Whew that's a good question. I feel like everyday is different, but I usually, let's see. I work from home. I do have ... When I got the cookbook deal, I had decided I needed an outside opinion, and I lucked out and found the world's greatest assistant who comes over and cooks with me once a week, so I had her throughout the whole cookbook, and I lost her for a little bit because she got a different job, and now she's back.
So, I structure my week around her coming over on Tuesdays which is amazing, and that's when we get most of the cooking done, and it's so nice to have just a bouncing board for ideas, and then on the days in between, I am just sort of working between technical projects, writing new blog posts, editing photos, taking the photos. There is a lot of admin work that goes on behind the scenes as well.
Suzy Chase: It's really solitary, isn't it?
Kathryne: It can be. Honestly, it suits me well. I'm definitely an introvert, and I love what I do so much, the time kind of flies by, but I would probably feel lonely if I didn't have Cookie around. She's quite a personality.
Suzy Chase: What's your favorite social media platform these days?
Kathryne: I like Instagram. I like that's still pretty simple. As frustrated that I get that I can't schedule to Instagram like I want to-
Suzy Chase: I know.
Kathryne: It is really nice though that marketers, as a whole, can't just be automatically throwing millions of posts into Instagram. I don't ... Facebook frustrates me. I like Pinterest for collecting visuals. And Twitter, I could care less about.
Suzy Chase: Yes. Same.
I saw on your Instagram stories yesterday that you were recipe testing. Can you give us a sneak peak of what you were testing?
Kathryne: Yeah. So that was ... Yesterday is the day that Mara was over here, and we perfected these chocolate chip cookies that I'm very excited about. Somehow I've made it through seven years of blogging without a proper chocolate chip cookie recipe-
Suzy Chase: Really?
Kathryne: Yeah, I needed to find my own go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I'm always looking for ways that I can offer a Cookie and Kate spin on traditional recipes, so I'm actually trying to go back to those standards. Cause you can't really make a chocolate chip cookie recipe healthy. Like I want a bakery quality chocolate chip cookie if I'm going to eat one, so I think I've finally found a way to put a bit of a spin on it, and that produces a really delicious cookie.
What else did we work on? We retested a recipe that's been on my blog because I've felt like it was missing a more exact amount of cabbage. Broke my food processor in the process, and we talked through a cookbook gift guide actually, among other things. So, that was my Tuesday.
Suzy Chase: So, you living in Kansas City, and I grew up there eating steak and potatoes almost every night of the week. How is it being vegetarian in a long established cow town?
Kathryne: You know, it's fine. The only places where I might struggle to find something to eat is the barbecue joints, although Oklahoma Joe's, I think, has a veggie burger now-
Suzy Chase: They do?
Kathryne: And also delicious fries.
Yeah, I think they do. I think so.
Suzy Chase: I'm shocked.
Kathryne: Yeah, I've heard that they do.
I have noticed ... So I mean, I came from Oklahoma which is also just kind of a cow state, but I think up here, they tend to put bacon in everything, so something I just have to ask for no bacon. But it's pretty easy.
Suzy Chase: The holidays are quickly approaching, and you have a fantastic three-ingredient cocktail that will impress your guests. Can you describe your elderflower champagne cocktail?
Kathryne: I love that cocktail. I was almost hesitant to include in the book because I thought maybe it was too basic, and then my assistant, Mara, was like, "No, sometimes when you need a cocktail, you just need a cocktail."
Suzy Chase: Exactly.
Kathryne: And it's so true because if you're entertaining, you got a lot going on. You have to clean your place. You have to prep food, and the drinks, I think, should be as easy as possible. So, yeah, you've got bubbly champagne. I adore champagne. And elder flower liquor which is one of the only liquores out there that I really love. It's not too sweet, it just has a really interesting floral, herbal flavor that I love, and it works great with champagne, and so it's just those two things and a little squeeze lemon juice and a twist of lemon if you can pull that off.
Suzy Chase: That sounds amazing, and the picture is gorgeous too.
Kathryne: Thank you. I had ... Oh, that was a fun day taking those photos outside.
Suzy Chase: Do you take your own pictures for the blog?
Kathryne: Yes I do. I really love part of my job.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web and social media?
Kathryne: So my blog is CookieAndKate.com and I lucked out, and I am CookieAndKate on every platform, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. And my book, Love Real Food is available on Amazon and anywhere else you might want to buy a book.
Suzy Chase: Thanks Kathryn for cooking on Cookery By the Book podcast.
Kathryne: Suzy, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Suzy Chase: Follow me on Instagram at CookeryByTheBook. Twitter is IamSuzyChase, and download your Kitchen Mix Tapes, music to cook by on Spotify at Cookery By The Book, and as always, subscribe in Apple Podcasts.