Monday, April 19, 2010

Voluptuous Delights

I treated myself to a new cookbook from Anthropologie this week that I haven't been able to put down since purchasing. Aptly titled Miss (Sophie)Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, it reads as much like a short autobiography that is as engaging as the colorful photos that tempt one to make (and eat) every single recipe. Organized by season, as well as meal of the day, it's very easy to find a recipe to utilize the last of the swiss chard from your CSA box or a soup that will use the verdant bouquet of watercress that tempted you at the farmer's market but with no idea of how to prepare. Indeed, Sophie uses many whole ingredients that normally make me nervous. My mother, when we lived in Eugene, Oregon, went through a phase of cooking through the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, which on the whole is a very good cookbook, but our family likes to summarily dismiss this period as Mom's barley lentil kasha days...days where, in an effort to feed us as wholesomely as possible, we unfortunately sat down to bland, if not plain old uneatable meals that made me suspicious to this day of anything too, you know, healthy. Things like quinoa (which is not pronounced phonetically, making it even doubly suspect), spelt, buckwheat groats and tofu all make me inwardly quake and turn up my butter-loving nose, but this book has changed all that.

Sophie's recipes are healthy, balanced, mostly vegetarian and you can't help but love a girl who went through a very public weight gain and loss to come out the other side writing appreciatively about all bodies "we have to deal with what we've got, appreciate it and move swiftly on. We all spend far too much time focusing on what we don't have and undermining what we do in the process. It's a cunning little distraction from what is truly important." Lest you think she sounds a little too much like an Oprah clone, never fear. Sophie Dahl inherited her grandfather's wit and writing ability and her personal stories that are interwoven throughout this delightful little tome add rather than detract from the recipes. Having enjoyed a stint as a model working with iconic photographer's from Vogue to being black listed because of weight gain to dealing with criticism for rapid weight loss and rumors of eating disorder (which was mostly due to a major illness she had while filming in India), she has run the gamut with food and come to a place of balance in her approach to food. Clearly, for her, it is about family and friends and the joy of sharing a meal with the ones you love. She summarizes at the end "sexy is inherent in a healthy appreciation for food, in having the energy to romp with your beloved, pick up your baby, cook dinner for your friends, go for a run or simply take a gentle walk to the market. Sexy is in feeling sated, having options and feeling alive." In sharing these recipes, she's definitely given options I feel good about making for our family, in particular these pear & ginger muffins (made with spelt flour) which were devoured by five hungry boys within minutes of coming out of the oven. Loaded with healthy ingredients but never lacking in flavor, moisture, or texture, this is one of many recipes I will be reaching for again and again.


  1. interesting! All I had known of her was that she was discovered as a very beautiful plus sized model and then the next I saw her she was just as thin as a regular model and that depressed me. Good to know there is much more to this story...I always liked her as a plus sized model...
    those muffins look yummy...hope I get to enjoy them soon in your home. that would be perfection.

  2. Have I told you about my mom's inability to pronounce certain words, one being "quinoa?" It's hilarious. My sister wrote out the phonetic pronunciation as "keen-wa"on a piece of paper. When looking at the paper, my mom will say "keen-wa." When not looking at the paper, she'll say "canoe-y," "kinoah," etc. I love my mom. I also am mad at you for not dropping one of these off at my house.

  3. I used to be a plus size model too...

  4. Summer- I'm annoyed with you for keeping Ryan's modeling past a secret from explains so much. His obsession with clothes and shoes and the mantra he repeats under his breath when sitting down to a meal "eat, eat, eat!"
    I thought of you as soon as I saw Sophie's smiling face on the cover and I was intrigued as you are to read her story. I think it's safe to say she had a very unhealthy relationship with food for a while due to the public attention on her weight but I love where she's at now.

    Cydney- I love getting this bite size nuggets about your family...I was picturing your Mom, like me, stumbling over the unfamiliar word, trying to remember the correct pronunciation whilst reverting to phonetics resulting in a garbled word not resembling the real thing at all! My default is "qui-noah".
    Also, I know I should have hopped on my back after bundling kids in the burley and ridden the 20 miles to your house and back- how selfish of me! Next time!

  5. I began a short story about my mom's mispronunciations. Another fave is "I.B. Propen" for Ibuprofen. And one time, when asking my sister if a friend of hers was displaying a little unusual attention to my sister, she asked my sister if her friend was "lesbionic," which is funny for obvious reasons.