As I've been brainstorming about this cookbook over the past few months – and especially now that I'm in the thick of it – three words keep popping up when I think about the "theme" of the book. The first, most obvious word is table. My heart is to build community around the table. To give people a reason to connect, over a simple meal, with their families or friends after a long day at work. But the other two words that keep resurfacing are ones I saw on a card this summer: "everyday abundance." When it comes to this book, I want to celebrate eating well – and living well – every day.

I was talking to a friend about this concept the other night, and I told her that I had originally toyed around with "healthy eating" and "dinner parties" – both topics I care deeply about – as potential themes. Through our conversation, it dawned on me that both of these concepts, in their extreme forms, can become really negative – health books can veer in the direction of legalism and deprivation, while entertaining books can easily veer towards perfectionism and decadence. Our culture, it seems, gravitates towards extremes, but the goal of my book is actually to find a happy middle ground.


To me, healthy eating and living doesn't require adhering to a rigid code of do's and don'ts. During March Wellness last year, we tried out a pretty strict elimination diet to try and help B's Lyme Disease, but in general we just try and eat lots of vegetables (local and organic when possible), humanely-raised meats and wild-caught fish, and avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible. But every once in awhile, I get a craving for pizza or a chocolate chip cookie, and I enjoy those treats without guilt.

In the book, you'll find lots of salads (with all sorts of yummy vegetables like kale, radicchio, spinach, arugula, avocado, carrots, red cabbage, fennel, endive, butternut squash, etc.), grain and vegetable sides, and super-simple fish (like parchment-roasted redfish) and meat dishes. But you'll also find comfort foods, like roasted tomato basil soup and ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, that put a big smile on your face. I think all of these things can be part of a healthy lifestyle: it's a matter of balance.


But back to the concept of everyday abundance. Ultimately, it's about prioritizing what matters most. It's taking the time to feed yourself, your family, or whoever else is in your life. It's not about striving for perfection, but just eating simply, eating well, and enjoying being at the table. At the end of the day, I want this book to be about joy and abundance and community and laughter. The table can be messy - in fact I hope it is, those are the best kinds! - as long as there are people you love around it.

With all of that said, I hope you enjoy the roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It's one of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods, and it's popular with kids of all ages (including adult ones!). Be careful, though, if you're using a blender: let the soup cool first before blending. I learned the hard way when I was testing this recipe: the steam blew the lid off the blender and I ended up with a soup-splattered kitchen!

See you tomorrow, for adventures in apple-pie making...

Photos by Signe Birck