Why Mothers and Daughters Should Cook Together

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor

Marea (left) and Myra Goodman. Photo credit: Sara Remington

Marea Goodman recently graduated from U Cal Berkeley. She lived in a vegan co-op there, and would prepare dinner for her 60-some housemates. Her mother, Myra Goodman, being the seasoned cookbook writer she is (and the owner of Earthbound Farm), thought: “There’s a cookbook there!” The result is Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone, which just hit bookstores this spring. We talked to the pair about how mother-daughter cooking works:

Myra: Marea, remember how weirdly infatuated I was with what you were cooking [in college]? I would call the day after your dinners and ask you all about what you made. When I saw my daughter blossoming as this vegan chef and knowing she would soon be looking for a job, I said, ‘Honey, when you graduate we can do this vegan cookbook!’

Marea: I have never identified as a vegan, but I enjoy eating vegan food. There were a lot of things about this co-op house that were right up my alley; that’s how I got into the vegan food world. I’ve never taken on that identity—I do eat some animal products—but it’s important to me to learn how to cook a variety of plant-based foods.

Myra: Both of us being omnivores that do try and eat predominantly plant-based diets, we will hopefully help people be less afraid of this word ‘vegan.’ People think of it as an exclusive club that they’re not a member of, so we’re trying to have this be an everyone’s-invited-to-the-table book. This food is delicious for everyone.

So what has Marea taught you, Myra? What new ingredients have you learned about?

Myra: Hemp seeds. They’re really great; they have a lot of protein and omega 3 fatty acids but not carbs. So I sprinkle them in salads and smoothies, or I make an almond butter sandwich and put extra hemp seeds on. Marea held my hand through vegan baking, too, which scared me, but I have become infatuated with chia seeds [mixed with liquids] as an egg substitute.

What challenges did you face working on a cookbook together?

Myra: The challenge was that she never cooked from recipes and never wrote down recipes. She’s very fearless in kitchen. I had to slow her down—she’s a horse that wanted to gallop!—to measure things out and get a level of precision.

Marea: Yes, we have very different working styles. I tend to me more instinctual in the kitchen. And our different styles as cooks were definitely one of the biggest challenges but also one of the greatest parts of doing this book together. The mother-daughter team; it’s a curse and a blessing.

Myra: It was a challenge in the beginning, but it ended up working really well for the book. It’s more creative and diverse than it would have been if I did it myself. It was a very interesting time to have a project with my daughter, and Marea with her mom. She was 22; she had just graduated college. So in a way, she felt like an adult and didn’t want Mom harping on her. But it was a really special opportunity for us to get to know each other as people and as adults.

Is there any particular recipe you disagreed about?

Marea: I was trying to make cashew-based Caesar dressing with nutritional yeast but something was missing. So I added curry powder and I was like, ‘A-ha! That’s it.’ But my mom tried it and said, ‘It’s delicious, but it’s not a Caesar dressing.

Myra: Caesar dressing is a classic recipe. So we kept going around and around with wording: what to call it? We settled on Eccentric Caesar. It’s one of my favorite recipes in the book.

Where there any recipes that you didn’t think would make the cut?

Marea: The corn soup is one that sticks.

Myra: That’s what I was thinking, too.

Marea: Mom, I think you had been working on that recipe for a bunch of days and there was something missing. You added an element that made it better, but it still wasn’t great so we considered nixing it from the book. I tried to make the recipe and I added a few other spices that were spices, Mom, that you hadn’t thought of before—paprika and the coriander and the cayenne. Then you did the bell pepper garnish and somehow we pulled it together.

Myra: Yes, certain recipes, after two or three times [testing] I’m ready to cry and forget about it. The banana-coconut cake I couldn’t bear to do again and begged her to take it over. She perfected it and figured out the frosting. She came to my rescue when I had had enough.

Marea: That’s what’s so nice about doing a cookbook collaboratively; you can shoulder the load when the other person is getting fed up.

A lesson that goes beyond the kitchen.

Eccentric Caesar Salad
From Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone
Serves 6

Caesar Dressing
½ cup/70 g raw cashews
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper

2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups/120 g Quick Garlic Croutons (recipe follows)
1 ripe avocado, medium dice
½ cup/65 g hemp seeds
⅓ cup/55 g capers

To make the dressing: Combine the cashews, oil, lemon juice, yeast, mustard, garlic, salt, curry powder, and pepper in a food processor and add ¼ cup plus 3 tbsp/75 ml warm water. Process until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

To make the salad: Toss the romaine with ½ cup/120 ml of the dressing. Add more to taste if desired. Divide the lettuce among six plates, and top each with some of the croutons, avocado, hemp seeds, and capers. Serve immediately.

Quick Garlic Croutons
Makes about 2½ cups/150 g

Nine 1/2-in/12-mm slices of a large baguette or 12 slices of a thin baguette
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ tsp. crushed garlic
Pinch of salt

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350°F/180°C/gas 4.

Toast the baguette slices very lightly in a traditional toaster or toaster oven. Allow to cool. Mix the oil, garlic, and salt together in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, brush both sides of the toast with this mixture, and then cut the slices into ½-in/12-mm cubes. Transfer the cubes to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Allow to cool completely before using. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.