Meet Kathryne Taylor (Kate), the personality behind the hugely popular vegetarian blog “Cookie and Kate” and author of “Love Real Food,” a cookbook filled with 100 wholesome, delicious, healthy vegetarian recipes. Cookie, by the way, is Kate’s adorable crumb-catching dog.
Kate emphasizes fresh, whole foods and is a strong believer in eating as close to the source as possible. Her blog is a treasure trove of beautifully photographed dishes, culinary knowledge and delicious inspiration dedicated to vegetable-packed meals. Many of her recipes include gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan ingredient substitutions, and ideas for altering her recipes for variety. It’s always nice to have go-to dishes everyone in the family loves that you can put together quickly, and then have these same recipes transform into completely different dishes with just a few easy changes.
Kate’s warm, conversational tone and eloquently-written blog posts are fun to read, and they’re full of great cooking tips and ideas. It’s no wonder she garners over 2 million visits per month. Kate admits she was a picky eater when she was little.
She says, “Parents of picky eaters, take heart! I was the pickiest of eaters when I was young. I went through a peanut butter sandwich phase – no crust, hold the jelly, white bread only. I would only eat canned green beans – certainly not my grandmother’s garden-fresh green beans. I always loved pizza, and still do, of course. Fortunately, my mom always made sure to offer salad and fresh fruit at the dinner table. I’m pleased to report that my taste buds have expanded exponentially since I left for college.”
Kate enjoys picking up produce at farmers markets whenever she can and talking with the vendors about the food they brought in. She thinks it’s fun to watch kids find their favorite fruits and vegetables, and ask questions about the ones they haven’t seen before. She believes kids are more likely to try new produce when they’ve helped choose them.
Fall is a great time to visit your local farmers market to find fresh produce to cook. From pears and winter squash to Brussels sprouts and broccoli, there are so many vegetables and fruits that are in season now. Just make sure to go early to find the best produce, and bring cash. It’s always nice to walk the entire market before making your selections as prices and types of produce vary among farmers and vendors. Educate yourself and your kids if you’re unfamiliar with a vegetable by asking questions such as how to test for ripeness and how to cook it.
Here Kate shares some of her fall cooking and produce tips and ideas.
Are there particular vegetables that seem to show up a lot in your fall dishes?
Yes! My favorites are butternut squash, carrots, Delicata squash (when I can find it), broccoli and eggplant.
Do you have any tips for bringing out the most flavor in vegetables when you cook them?
Especially with fall/winter produce, roasting them brings out the most complex flavors. I like to roast them until they’re nice and golden on the edges for that delicious caramelized flavor.
What are some of your favorite fall recipes using vegetables from the farmers market?
I absolutely love the eggplant lasagna and lentil minestrone in my cookbook! They both make great leftovers, too.
What are a few of your must-have fall pantry and fridge staples?
I always have quinoa, wild and brown rice, whole grain pasta (DeLallo brand is my favorite) and vegetable broth in my pantry. In my fridge, I keep lemons, fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley, and a simple homemade dressing or sauce on hand to liven up recipes.
Do you ever cook or bake fresh pumpkins, or do you use canned pumpkin?
I usually use canned pumpkin, actually. I’ve tried making my own pumpkin purée before, but the moisture content varies quite a bit from pumpkin to pumpkin, so canned pumpkin produces more consistent results in baked goods.
Do you have cooking shortcuts, produce tips and freshness-saving tricks you can share?
To keep store-bought cilantro and parsley fresh longer, remove the rubber band at the base and wrap the bunch loosely in a paper towel. They’ll keep much longer that way. You can also roast a lot of vegetables over the weekend and incorporate those in your meals throughout the week – they’re great in sandwiches, quesadillas, burritos and as side dishes. I also find that I eat a lot more salad if I make a huge chopped salad and store the dressing separately.
What is one of your favorite kitchen tools?
I love my julienne peeler for turning produce like carrots into pretty ribbons.
Do you have any ideas or recipes for moms who’d like to get their kids interested in cooking?
Pizza parties are a fun way to get creative! I love to make pizzas on whole grain tortillas or pitas, and then everyone can choose their own toppings.
What made you start your blog, Cookie and Kate? How has it evolved since you started?
I started Cookie and Kate as a creative project. It turned into a food blog by the end of year one. Now, it’s my full-time job and I publish new recipes two to three times per week.
What do you like best about blogging?
I love that blogging allows me to combine my love for writing, photography, web design and healthy recipes. I appreciate the variety, I’m always learning and I’m rarely bored!
For a list of in-season, locally-grown produce, visit seasonalfoodguide.org.
Kate’s blog and cookbook can be found at cookieandkate.com.