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Half Baked Harvest

When I started cooking, I was supposed to cook home-made meals due to my surgery. But I don’t remember anyone saying healthy meals- right? Maybe just maybe I might have omitted that word from my memory. In the past three years of this culinary adventure, there has been an excessive amount of sugar, melted chocolate, all purpose flour, fried chicken and mounts of rices- when I look back I probably could have cut down on.

This is not a harvesting cookbook unlike the name, it does not promote locally grown food although Tieghan lives in a farm with her six siblings and parents. I find it intriguing. I mean I have a small kitchen garden behind the house here in Dehradun and I honestly cannot stop raving about it every other day on Instagram. I mean look at those gorgeous little flowers- they’ve become baby capsicums-awh!-look they’ve gotten bigger- see now I’ve made a stuffed minced chicken capsicum for lunch. I mean thats how I roll, yo. I guess if you’ve grown up in that environment these things are like what struggling to even walk through Bangalore traffic is for me. (She uses eggs to make all of her egg recipes from her flock of chicken?! I mean like WOW! #marketable) Using these same non-marketing techniques Tieghan draws me in towards her recipes. You don’t even realise it but everything she has written is downright healthy and surprisingly delicious, she does zero promotion of this throughout. In my head, I think I will still adhere to it regardless of whatever this marvellous person has just exhibited- is that some foods just need to be unhealthy. I mean thats why they’re made right? We’re not making cake to be healthy. We’re certainly not going to be frying kachoris to be healthy. Come on. There are certain lines to be drawn here. Unhealhy-ness is a flavour.

And with that said, I’ll move on to telling you why this cookbook and the author is an absolute gem when it comes to everything delicious (and healthy). Its organised in the most simple manner, it starts with her story, how one must go on to cook with this book and then its sectioned into Breakfast, Appetizers & Snacks, Pasta & Grains, Poultry & Pork, Seafood, Beef & Lamb, (Mostly) Meatless Meals, and Desserts. Almost every other recipe has her own personal spin to it making it so personal and unique to her. In Madhur Jafrey’s book- I learnt the importance of narration and voice in a cookbook, from this I learnt how to make recipes your own. Adding that touch that is so honest to you and your cooking and something that makes it a bowl of comfort for you. It’s not just about a list of ingredients and methods. Those ingredients and methods should mean something.

“This is what I call a Gerard Family–style meal. It’s not classy in any way, and that’s my family. Some people might be slightly embarrassed by that, but I’ve chosen to embrace it. We are who we are, and I love my family and all our hillbilly ways.” Beer Can Chicken, under poultry and pork Page 225

We can see her own story and her relationship with food through every single recipe. She grew up in a large family with five big brothers and a sister who was 15 years younger than her. Big families can be chaotic, loud and unorganised. She started cooking at the age of 14 when she had enough of eating late dinners, and started cooking so everyone would be served on time. And her recipes are exactly like that, a mix of different ingredients in a bowl. Perhaps, something she may have picked up because everyone person in the family has their own likes and dislikes. The healthiness of her food is also perhaps from the fact to control what her family was eating.

“I went through a phase of trying to healthify all the food my family was eating, and during that phase, came up with the idea to swap the meat in our tacos for quinoa. I finally told Creighton, my oldest brother and the biggest carnivore of the family, what was up. I kid you not, he LOST it. Now he finally admits that he loved them, and I’ve turned the rest of my family on to these epic quinoa tacos.” Chipotle-Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Tacos, Page  440

This recipe was a one bowl extravaganza made with whole wheat and oats- something I thought I’d never make in my life but has turned out to be my one of my most favourite bakes. (Thanks to my beautiful friend Sakshi who recommended it to me.)

I’ve been following her blog and her Instagram for sometime now. She is amazing. I remember making her healthy baked cookies once and posting it on Instagram to having her personally respond- twice! That is incredible for someone who has more than a million followers. I’ve been living for her stories through this lockdown- especially whenever she is baking. I always feel that she makes the easiest things with the least amount of preparation. Somethings I’m eagerly waiting to try are: ice cream banana bread, beer can chicken, caramel stuffed chocolate cookies, harissa veggie burgers. 

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As a food stylist and photographer I have also absolutely fallen in love with her pictures. Unlike most millennial written cookbooks, the styling here is a mix of old school and stuff trending these days. Yes, there are modern ceramics, but is the light just hard light and unidirectional? No! Is the styling minimum and bare? No! I love that she emphasises the styling on the food itself and not just everything around it- I feel thats what most people struggle with these days (including me).

#recipes #tieghangerard #cookbook #halfbakedharvest #food #foodblogger

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