Fresh Made Simple, A Family-Friendly Cookbook (Plus, Giveaway!)

Since having a baby, I find that I’ve been craving healthy and delicious food, and definite bonus points for meals that are easy to prepare. I never spent a lot of time in the kitchen (aside from baking) and Matt was always the one to make dinner. In the recent months, I’ve craved whipping up healthy meals. I started meal planning and grocery shopping each Sunday afternoon and I love knowing what I’m going to eat all week long.

I always keep an eye out for new recipes that will delight Matt, myself, and even Milo (he’s just starting to show interest in solids). Laura and I recently met Lauren Stein, who is a mother and journalist turned cookbook author. Since having her daughter four years ago, she was inspired to create a family-friendly cookbook filled with beautifully illustrated recipes. We love her book, and wanted you to get to know Lauren.

Hi Lauren! Tell us, where did the idea Fresh Made Simple come from?

I left journalism to spend time at home when my daughter was born about four years ago. That first year was an adventure! I realized we spent so much of our time together either reading her books over and over and over again or cooking/eating/throwing food, why not write a book that we could both enjoy and get food ideas from—an illustrated cookbook works for cooks and eaters of any age!

Was the process of writing a cookbook complicated? Did anything surprise you?

The book as 76 recipes in it and I probably found that to be most daunting. Coming up with at least 75 original, fresh, vegetarian recipes that could be understood in a one-page illustration was a lot of fun, but tough when working on a deadline! There’s also the process of having the recipes tested and incorporating that feedback, and unlike photography any changes to a recipe mean changes to an illustration too. It was a complicated process, but also an incredible chance to be creative.

Why was having illustrated recipes so important to you?

An illustrated guide to recipes – it just wasn’t something I’d ever seen before. Sometimes I might see illustrations of food accompany a recipe, but nothing where the illustration was the recipe, and all the steps and ingredients were incorporated in the artwork. It has universal appeal, I think. It’s whimsical and fun and colorful, and food and eating should be fun and enjoyable, too.

Speaking of which, we love the illustrations. How did you find the right illustrator to work with?

I was doing some writing and editing for a wonderful site called Eat Boutique and met the illustrator, Katie Eberts, through that work. Katie lives in Michigan and so I say we wrote the cookbook together long-distance. She is so talented and was able to envision the action of each recipe from my words and bring it to life in her illustrations.

Favorite recipe from the book?

Gosh, it’s so hard to pick. I love the burrito scramble, of course (it was in Oprah Magazine!) and the tortilla soup, too – I probably make those most frequently. The red pepper cheddar spread barely lasts in my house after we make it, the kids and I can’t stop eating it. And it’s just 3 ingredients! And the watermelon herb salad, I love to make that all summer long and it’s the perfect one to get kids involved making because they can scoop the watermelon and tear the herbs and crumble the cheese – no knives or heat required!

When you’re not cooking at home, where do you love to go out to eat?

I love going to Orinoco for arepas. My husband and I love seafood, so Island Creek Oyster Bar and Select Oyster Bar are two favorites. For quicker bites, I love Sofra (and their molasses cookies!), Tatte Bakery or Bon Me sandwiches. When people visit and ask for restaurant recommendations I often send them to Oleana or Sportello.

If you had a free (and maybe even a child-free!) day in the city, what would you do?

When I get a few hours to myself, I love to get a pedicure at MiniLuxe and grab a shack burger and strawberry milkshake at Shake Shack! Such a treat! My husband and my first date was at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park back when it was the only one that existed! Without the kids I might take myself to the MFA for a few hours (but I take the kids there too… they have great programming for families) and then in the evening go to Belly Wine Bar in Kendall Square for wine and cheese!

And now for a few quick answer questions:

What are you reading right now?

Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

Favorite Boston park to spend time outdoors?

The Boston Public Garden – we could visit the ducks every day and it would still be exciting!

What are you most excited for this spring?

The launch of video recipes I’ve been working on for Huffington Post and also note cards and postcards featuring recipes from the cookbook! Stay tuned.

Do you have a favorite local shop?

I love South End Formaggio, obviously for the cheese, but also the bread and cupcakes and wine.

Favorite child-friendly activity?

Riding the Swan Boats!

Thanks so much, Lauren! You can check out Fresh Made Simple here and today we’re offering a free copy to a lucky reader. Enter below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out all of our food-related posts here. Happy eating!

  1. Cori says:

    This was a cool interview. Thanks, Natalie & Laura! My favorite recipe at the moment is a Nom Nom Paleo recipe for Cracklin’ Chicken!

    • Natalie Kurtzman says:

      Thanks, Cori! I’ll have to check out that recipe — sounds right up my alley. Yum!

  2. Julie R says:

    My favorite recipe right now is a taco salad one!

  3. Lisa says:

    With three kids ages 16, 13, and 11 and all of the spring sports. This would be perfect for our busy lives I hope to find some quiet time in the kitchen on Saturday and hope the kids can help !

  4. Eve says:

    My favorite recipe right now is from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook for tabbouli. So fresh and delicious!