This Wife Cooks is a food blog by Holly Gray, a wife and mom who loves cooking and baking and shares easy, tasty, and family-friendly vegan recipes. Holly started her plant-based journey in 2011 and began her blog in 2014 to share her favorite recipes.
Besides being a great home cook, she has written a cookbook and supports the vegan lifestyle.
In an interview with CookingDetective.com, Holly talks about her passion for cooking, what her blog is about, and tips for enjoying plant-based meals.
She explains the importance of using ingredients that are in season and how to make dishes look good.
Holly also shares her favorite kitchen tool, comfort food recipe, and low-cost ingredients. She gives advice on improving cooking skills and making healthier meals.
Her aim is to encourage readers to try new ingredients and methods in their cooking journey.
Read our exclusive interview with Holly Gray now!
What follows is an interesting interview with the Cooking influencer.
1. Please Tell Us a Little About Yourself and How You Got Into Cooking?
My name is Holly Gray. I am a wife, mom, and home cook, living in Northern Virginia.
My love for cooking began at a young age. I grew up with a father who loved to cook. Some of my best childhood memories are of the two of us in the kitchen, with me acting as sous chef, usually chopping veggies, grating cheese or assembling a salad.
We would blast classic rock music and clean up as we worked. My dad instilled in me the importance of hospitality, and the art of a well-plated meal.
I am now the creator of This Wife Cooks, a food blog that focuses on family-approved plant-based recipes.
All the recipes that you see on my site are for dishes that we’re actually eating in my house. I think it’s important to show real plant-based food that a real family is eating on a daily basis.
This supports the mission of my blog, which is to share with home cooks how easy it can be to cook delicious, plant-based meals the whole family will love.
2. Can You Walk Us Through Your Cooking Process, From Selecting Ingredients to Plating the Finished Dish?
When I’m deciding what to make, I usually start by thinking about what’s in season and what ingredients I already have on hand. I find that this helps me create meals that are both tasty and budget-friendly. Since I’m a vegan, I also make sure that all the ingredients I choose are plant-based.
Once I have my ingredients, I like to do a little bit of prep work before I start cooking. This might involve washing and chopping vegetables, soaking or cooking grains or legumes, measuring out spices, and generally getting everything ready to go.
This helps me stay organized and focused in the kitchen and makes the actual cooking process go more smoothly.
When the cooking is done, I turn my attention to plating the finished dish. For me, presentation is an important part of the cooking process. I like to arrange my food in a way that looks beautiful and appetizing, using fresh herbs or other decorative touches as needed.
My overall goal is always to create meals that are both delicious and nutritious, using the best ingredients and a range of cooking techniques to bring out the best in each ingredient. Cooking is such a creative process, and I love experimenting with new ingredients and flavors.
3. What is Your Favorite Kitchen Tool or Gadget and Why?
Definitely my mini chopper. I use it to chop up everything from onions and garlic to nuts and herbs.
I find that it’s particularly useful when I need to finely chop ingredients, like when making a salsa or pesto. It saves me so much time and effort compared to chopping by hand.
4. What’s Your Favorite Comfort Food Recipe to Make During the Colder Months?
There’s something so satisfying about a big bowl of chili on a cold day. I generally like to make mine with lots of beans, veggies, and spices for a flavorful and filling meal.
I also have a plant-based Chorizo Pumpkin Chili that has become a staple in our house, especially around Halloween.
5. Can You Suggest Some Easy Ways to Incorporate More Plant-based Meals Into a Carnivore’s Diet?
First, don’t make any drastic changes. If your family is accustomed to eating dinners made with ground beef or chicken every night, one way of easing your family into plant-based meals is simply swapping meat and dairy ingredients for plant-based alternatives.
Maybe you make an amazing spaghetti and meatballs and your family cannot imagine life without your famous meatballs. You can still make that dish that they love; you’re just now using a plant-based ground beef alternative in place of the animal-based ground beef.
The same goes for cheeses and all sorts of other dairy products, including eggs, milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
My second suggestion is to start small. Start with one meal a day or even one meal a week. This will give you some quick wins and you’ll start to see that this is a very attainable goal and it’s one that can be built upon.
Finally, build your personal library of resources for plant-based recipes. This can be cookbooks, online recipe sites, magazines, whatever you like. This sets you up for success by ensuring you always have fresh ideas for vegan meals.
6. Can You Recommend Some Budget-friendly Ingredients That Can Be Used in a Variety of Dishes?
One ingredient that I love to use in many of my dishes is canned beans. They’re incredibly versatile and can be used in everything from soups and stews to salads and dips.
Not only are they budget-friendly, but they’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. You can easily add them to a dish to make it more filling and satisfying.
Rice is another affordable and easy to find ingredient. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in so many different types of cuisine, from Mexican to Indian to Asian.
I would also recommend canned tomatoes. They’re a pantry staple that can be used in so many different dishes, from spaghetti sauce to chili to soups.
Plus, they’re often more affordable than fresh tomatoes, especially during the colder months when fresh produce can be more expensive.
These are just a few of my favorite budget-friendly ingredients, but there are so many others out there. With a little creativity and some savvy shopping, it’s definitely possible to create delicious and nutritious meals without breaking the bank.
7. What Advice Would You Give to Someone Who Wants to Improve Their Cooking Skills?
Invest in good quality cooking equipment and practice, practice, practice! The more you cook, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become in the kitchen.
Start by mastering a few basic techniques and recipes, then gradually expand your repertoire and be open to making changes and substitutions based on your own preferences and dietary restrictions.
Experiment with different ingredients, flavors, and cuisines to keep things interesting, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Some of the best dishes are created through trial and error!
8. What’s Your Go-to Recipe for an Easy Weeknight Dinner That Doesn’t Sacrifice Flavor?
For an easy, budget-friendly weeknight dinner that’s packed with flavor, one of my go-to recipe is pasta olio, also known as spaghetti aglio e olio. This classic Italian dish is simple to make but incredibly delicious.
To make pasta olio, start by boiling a pot of salted water for your pasta. While the pasta is cooking, heat up some olive oil and vegan butter in a pan and add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
Cook the garlic until it’s fragrant but not browned, then add some pasta water to the pan to create a sauce.
Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the garlic and sauce, and toss everything together until the pasta is coated in the sauce. Top with some dairy-free Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, and you’re done!
The great thing about this dish is that it’s quick and easy to make, but the combination of garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes gives it a ton of flavor. Plus, you can customize the recipe by adding in your favorite vegetables, plant-based meat, or herbs
9. Can You Recommend Some Healthy Ingredient Swaps That Can Make Classic Dishes More Nutritious?
One thing you can do is swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa. These grains are higher in fiber and protein, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Another easy swap that can help cut down on calories and saturated fat while still retaining flavor, is to use vegetable broth or water instead of oil or butter for cooking vegetables.
You can also add extra veggies to classic dishes to boost their nutritional value. For example, you can add spinach or kale to a classic lasagna recipe, or swap out meat in a chili recipe for diced mushrooms or lentils.
10. What Do You Hope People Take Away From Your Blog, and How Do You Want to Inspire Them in the Kitchen?
As a food blogger, my main goal is to inspire my readers to get creative in the kitchen and try new things.
Through This Wife Cooks, I hope to provide inspiration and guidance to help readers explore new ingredients, techniques, and flavors. Whether it’s trying out a new recipe, experimenting with different spices and herbs, or learning how to cook with seasonal produce, I want to encourage my readers in the kitchen.
I also hope to emphasize the importance of cooking and eating mindfully and to show people that eating plant-based doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive.
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview! I hope that you found the information and insights shared to be helpful and inspiring.
Cooking is a journey, and there’s always something new to learn and discover in the kitchen. Keep experimenting, trying new recipes, and having fun with your cooking. Wishing you all the best on your culinary adventures!
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