a bitty bit of Bittman

How to Cook Everything

If there’s my one go-to cookbook, it’s How to Cook Everything. As you might have concurred by the name, it’s a book filled with solutions for almost, well, everything. The problem with naming a cookbook, or any book for that matter, with this kind of definitiveness is that it doesn’t leave you anywhere to go but that didn’t stop the creation of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, How to Cook Everything The Basics as well as an updated version of How to Cook Everything that includes almost twice the recipes so I’m guessing my original version with a copyright of 1998 apparently didn’t cover quite everything, but it’s a good start. Even when I know how to make something, I will often just take a quick peek at the pages to see if there’s a spin on it that I should maybe know. As you can see, my copy is well worn with pieces of paper sticking out the top marking key spots – the way any favorite cookbook should look in my opinion.

I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of most things foodie going on in my town – whether that be a new restaurant, people in the community doing innovative things or the new wine being debuted at a favorite winery’s next release. In fact, to that point, by far my most widely read post has been a review of a restaurant currently touted as “one of Boise’s hottest new restaurants” by the Idaho Statesman. So imagine my surprise when I had to be told that Mark Bittman, New York Times Food Writer, was coming to Sun Valley – a resort town just a couple hours away. Thank goodness for my friends over at the local literary center, The Cabin, keeping me in the know because this would have been nothing short of a tragedy to miss.

The risk when meeting anyone famous, I think, is that they won’t turn out to be nice, shattering all the illusions of what it would be like to be to a dinner party with them – because isn’t that what all people imagine when they dream of interaction with someone famous? Luckily Mr. Bittman – can I call you Mark? – I’d beg to linger over dessert just to hear more of what you have to say.


I’m not exactly sure when Mark’s thinking about food changed exactly (I have the new book but haven’t read it from cover to cover yet) but it’s reflected in his Eat Vegan Before 6:00 – or VB6 – book published in 2013 and his talk this evening centered around these philosophies. Again, the title is concise so I bet you can see where this is going, but to expand a little, the six basic principles are:

  • Eat fruit & vegetables in abundance
  • Eat fewer animal products
  • Eat (almost) no junk food
  • Cook at home as much as possible
  • Consider quality over quantity
  • See your weight as just one component of good health

So does that mean it’s a diet or not? Guess it depends on which definition of diet you’re using.

1. food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health: Milk is a wholesome article of diet.
2. a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease: a diet low in sugar.
3. such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight: No pie for me, I’m on a diet.

Chose #1 or maybe #2 and you’re on the right track. Fill up on as many veggies and fruits as you want. Add in some beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. And consider meat, dairy, fish and seafood, anything processed, desserts and junk food as treats. Eat vegan until 6:00 pm and then have, as they say, a sensible dinner. Mark’s favorite go-to dinner?  Two ounces (dry) of pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and a piece of fish. While he didn’t say so, I’m guessing there’s a glass of wine in there every now and then too.

It seems like everywhere I turn lately, I am pointed towards this idea of clean eating. I started off the year with the Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse and the time listening to Mark talk has peaked my interested even more. One of my favorite take aways is it’s not all or nothing. If I – or you – just changed the way we ate three times a week that would be a 10% change. That is doable. Hopefully there will be some new posts inspired by Mark and his VB6 philosophy here as I figure out how to make these changes interesting and delicious.

How to Cook everything signed

His inscription in my well worn cookbook reads “happy cooking”. I think that’s how all cooking should be. Now if I can just find a route to balanced, healthy, delicious, happy eating.

Mark Bittman + Linda 1

My only criticism of the evening? There just wasn’t enough of it. The folks putting on the show, The Sun Valley Center for the Arts, seemed to have him on a time table of just one hour but he clearly had so much more to share. Thoughts on genetic engineering, organic, food fads and the environment. But I guess if this bitty bit of Bittman is enough to inspire change, even a little, then I guess it was enough indeed. I’ll save all my questions and conversation for that dinner party I dream we’ll both be at some day.


About bistroonesix

I have an interest in all things food and am lucky enough to be surrounded by people that share this same passion. There’s never a shortage of inspiration or partners in collaboration. Some of my happiest memories involve big tables covered with food, plenty of wine, and extra chairs pulled up to accommodate all the friends and family. If I can help facilitate these kinds of evenings, well then I’d say this is a great hobby to have. I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband and 2 adorable cats.

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