It was with great pleasure that I chatted with Emma Galloway, food writer, chef, blogger extraordinaire, wife, mother, and author of a new cookbook titled My Darling Lemon Thyme – Recipes from my real food kitchen. The book takes its name from Emma’s blog, which she began as a place to share gluten-free vegetarian recipes after discovering that she and her two children suffered from intolerances. Emma says that her aim is to inspire people with fresh, simple, flavourful recipes, and to help break down the boring, flavourless stigma commonly attached to allergy free eating.
Like Emma's hugely popular blog (which receives over 125,000 hits per month), there's plenty to cook from in the book. There are recipes for breakfast (Rise + Shine), lunch (Small Plates), baked goods (Sweet Tooth), main meals (Big Plates), drinks and frozen treats, and desserts (Sweetness). There's also a detailed glossary of pantry ingredients. And while it's the perfect cookbook for those with food intolerances, with a wide range of delicious recipes based on good, wholesome home-cooked food, it's a worthy addition to every cook's bookshelf.
I have followed Emma’s blog for some time and while I’m not a vegetarian myself, I love her work and share her love of cooking fresh, simple and flavourful recipes at home. My daughter and I also suffer from food intolerances.
Emm, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. As you know, I’ve been following your blog for a while now. I am delighted to have a copy of your book in my kitchen and look forward to cooking from it. Congratulations! There are some really beautiful recipes in there!
Thank you heaps and thanks for your support over the years, Liz.
My pleasure, Emm. You must be very excited.
Yes, yes, I am. It’s such a crazy long process that it’s pretty awesome to finally see people holding my book. I’ve been looking at on screen for the past year and a half, so it’s quite awesome to finally have it out there.
Are you still pinching yourself?
Yes, definitely! It hadn’t really sunk in until the other day when I walked into Big W and saw it sitting on the bookshelves alongside cookbooks by Jamie Oliver, Donna Hay and all those other major cookbook authors.
How exciting! Tell me a little about yourself, your philosophy on food and eating, and what inspired the book.
My life, basically, and my experiences is what inspired the blog and the book. I grew up in a very healthy vegetarian household in New Zealand back in the 80s. My parents grew most of what we ate from scratch and my mum basically cooked nearly everything that we ate from scratch. So that way of living is what I’ve always known. So, when I had children and discovered that they had intolerances it just made sense for me to go down the wholefood make from scratch path, than buying into all the pre-packaged gluten-free foods that are available in supermarkets that basically have no nutritional value at all. I guess you could sum up my philosophy as good nutrition through healthy eating, basically.
I share your thoughts on eating well and cooking fresh, healthy food at home. To achieve this, it's important to have a well-stocked larder, so what staple ingredients or whole foods do you always stock in your larder?
My husband will tell you that our pantry is insane [she laughed]. I have a slight problem in that it’s always very well stocked. Probably from my years as working as a chef, I don’t like to run out of stuff. I like to decide I want to cook something and find that most of the ingredients are there, available. I carry a huge amount of different flours: the main ones I use are fine brown rice flour, as well as almond meal and buckwheat (which I keep in the fridge to keep them from going rancid). I have heaps of different kinds of rices, nuts and legumes. All sorts, you name it, it’s always in there.
[I tell Emm that this sounds like my larder too and it’s time for a stocktake. We laugh and agree that as cooks we are alike many ways].
What fresh ingredients are always in your shopping basket?
Much like you, I’m sure, we do our fruit and vegetable shopping from the farmer’s markets every Saturday morning and most of the things I get from there will last us the best part of the week, and then I do little top ups at the fruit store. I try to support as many local producers as I can.
[I explain to Emma that I always like to have fresh mushrooms in my refrigerator].
I go through phases with mushrooms. I never used to like mushrooms until I was pregnant with my eldest. I would occasionally eat them raw, but I never really enjoyed them until I had these crazy cravings for them that just started. So mushrooms are not something I eat all the time. The main things I go to the farmer’s market for are things for the kid’s school lunches like gorgeous little fresh apples (perfect lunchbox-sized ones), little baby telegraph cucumbers which are really good for lunches, snow peas and all sorts of fresh stuff like that.
Who are your food heroes, or who inspires you the most when it comes to food and cooking?
Oh, there’s a few, I’ll try and shorten the list. First and foremost, it would be my mum. Nowadays, it’s quite accepted to be vegetarian or to eat gluten free. I mean it’s becoming more and more accepted. But when I was born in 1980, it was quite unheard of to eat the way that we ate. I have so much respect for mum and the fact that she didn’t really ‘follow the norm’. She followed her own beliefs and researched so much about nutrition, healthy eating and all sorts of alternative medicines. She is definitely my biggest inspiration, even more so since I’ve become a mum myself. I really appreciate all the time and effort that she put in when we were little to make sure that we were healthy.
And also, Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks. The main reason I started my blog was after reading Heidi’s second cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. After reading her book, I discovered food blogs. Before that I had no idea they even existed. Instantly I felt like I had found my people, all these crazy people talking about food all day. It was the first time I thought I could do that. My kids were young and I was home. So Heidi has been a huge influence on me.
Do you have an all-time favourite recipe (either in the book or on your blog)?
Oh, that’s hard to choose. Probably one of my favourite ones is my nut porridge, as simple as it is, it’s in the breakfast section, is one of my favourite ones in the book. It’s the thing I used to most look forward to for breakfast when I was growing up. My mum only made it two or three or times a year, as it’s quite expensive to buy nuts in New Zealand (as not many are grown there), so it was a very special occasion kind of breakfast.
What's on the agenda for you for the rest of 2014?
Not sure. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m flying to New Zealand to promote the book in the last week of April. We’re just finalising dates for the launches over there. It will be pretty cool to show my family, because I don’t think my mum has seen the book yet. I’m taking copies over with me when I go. So, that’ll be pretty cool. Gluten free pastry class and a food styling photography class and blogging talk in May in Perth. And then we’ll see. As crazy as it seems, I’m pretty keen to get started on another book. I may have a break, but I have already written down all the recipe ideas for the next book. But I should probably have a break because it’s such a big task writing it.
And finally, what’s for dinner tonight?
Good question. What’s today? Friday. I haven’t thought about it yet. [We laugh]. There are some nights of the week we have a set menu every night. For instance sushi on Monday, on Thursday we have the lentil spaghetti that’s in the book (because it can be planned ahead). We might have corn fritters tonight, which are also in the book. My kids love them and they take two seconds to whip up. So we might have those with some salad perhaps or sweet potato on the side. We eat very simply at home. It may not seem it on my blog, but we eat very simply.
[We agree that you don’t have to go to heaps of trouble to make a really good home cooked meal].
My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway, HarperCollins, $39.99. Thank you kindly to Emm and the publicity team for giving me the opportunity to review this excellent title, share Emm's recipe for ANZAC biscuits, and have such an enjoyable chat with one of my favourite food writers!
Cookbook reviews and interviews with food writers and chefs.