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Molly Yeh, bestselling cookbook author and star of Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, has just published her third cookbook, Home is where the balls are. A few weeks ago Molly and I were on the phone to chat about the new book and let’s just say things were heating up fast. Literally! Just as we said hello to each other, Molly suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, no! Fire!” and hung up immediately. As it turned out, I had just witnessed Molly Yeh’s first furnace fire over the phone.
Luckily, the fire was small and very easy to contain, so we quickly resumed our conversation, which focused on how things have changed since her first book was published. Molly on the track, in 2016. Most importantly, her family of two has grown into a family of four. She and her husband Nick now have two daughters, Bernie and Ira. We talked about her process of developing a cookbook for the third time, as well as what she and her family are eating these days, which is really the heart and soul of Home is where the balls are.
wow are you alright What happened?
I just pulled cinnamon roll bread out of the oven and some of the butter and sugar dripped onto the bottom of the oven and it literally burned!
Oh dear God! This is so funny. I wanted to ask what you’re doing. This has definitely happened to me before. How many furnace fires would you say you have had in your life?
I don’t think I had any fires in the kiln! This is the first time. I’ve had things on the stove that went a bit haywire but never in the oven where I opened it and there was real flames.
Well, I have to say, I’m somewhat honored to be some kind of witness to your first kiln firing! Okay, I know this is your third book, but a lot has changed in your life in the last few years. How was the recipe development process this time?
Yes, Molly on the track A lot of it revolved around big holiday foods, party foods like weekend projects, and foods that I would only make a few times a year but really, really love. These are more foods we love every day. When Bernie was born and started eating solid foods, I realized that these are the recipes I want as family dinners and family breakfasts and all. Because honestly, before Bernie, I was never a three-meal-a-day person. I would just snack on whatever I tested for my blog or books or something.
are you a breakfast person
Yes, I am an absolute breakfast person. But in front of Bernie I just want to get a green juice. But now I love to sit down and read her a book and make something special out of breakfast time. During the pandemic, I’ve just tweaked our favorite foods and the dinners we keep coming back to. The smoothies we all love. The toast we’ll come back to and the loaves I bake at the weekend.
The main difference between simply preparing them to eat and preparing them with the intention of including them in the book was that every time we sat down for dinner, I grilled Nick. How does it taste? Does it need more of this? Does it need more of this? Then I’d get up late that night just wondering Should I have done this a little differently?
Ha! The life of a recipe developer.
You know how it is! My brain was a little over-the-top every time we sat down. I would say it’s kind of nice to be able to just enjoy food and not have to analyze every single bite now.
I can imagine. Would you say Bernie is a picky eater or more of an open and curious eater?
She’s pretty picky. she comes after me But at the same time, there are things she likes to eat that I would never have eaten when I was her age. As much as she loves salmon, she loves avocado. She inhales broccoli!
Broccoli? That’s very impressive. So what recipes have you been cooking from the book lately?
Honestly, that’s really our family repertoire. Like this weekend, since it’s finally not 100 degrees in Grand Forks, I’m going to be making Chicken and Star Soup. This is one of our favourites. We also have a variation on the Crunchy Asian Slaw all the time. Bernie loves potstickers so we usually make frozen potstickers with this coleslaw.
I just got actual copies of the book and it’s so nice now that when I need to bake a cake or anything really that I don’t have to go into my files and pull out those gigantic sheets of paper from the editing stage. Now I can just open the book!
That is so nice. And I’m curious about the title of the book. How did you decide Home is where the eggs are?
It’s kind of a nod to a few different things. It’s a nod to our hens and their beautiful eggs. The chickens are getting a little older now. We only have a few left, but they were one of the first family members we added when we moved to the farm. It’s also a nod to the fact that Nick’s nickname for the longest time on my blog was Egg Boy because he loves eggs.
The title really represents this idea that I think you turn a house into a home by cooking something. And it can be as simple as stirring an egg, because you do that and you have the smell of the butter cooking, the sound of it crackling, and then gathering around the table to eat together. In my opinion, that just makes a room a place where memories, warmth and coziness and the feeling of home prevail.
Absolutely. That is beautiful. I switch gears a bit, I like to play this game where I set the stage – like a day, a time, a mood – and then you tell me what you would suggest doing with the book. For example, it is Sunday evening. It’s one of those first crisp autumn evenings. Sweatshirt season has just begun. What would you do?
And if it was just Bernie and Ira wasn’t already in the picture, every Sunday afternoon during her nap I would start the stock and the smell would go through the house. It’s just perfect. I would make a large batch so we could have leftovers throughout the week as well.
Oh I love that. All right. Next. It’s Tuesday morning. You are in a hurry. You’re trying to get the kids ready for school, but you want them to eat something substantial before they head out the door.
OK, so it’s three. The first is smoothies. The first few recipes in the book are three smoothies that we love. We’re all big smoothie drinkers, and all three have mixed in secret veggies you can’t taste. They’re just all really good and easy to throw together.
I like that. Good, one more. You’re dating someone new and you haven’t cooked for them yet. You want to impress them with your cooking skills. What would you do?
It’s good! Okay, I’m trying to figure out what’s not too garlicky so you don’t get a bad garlic smell. And no beans either. Right? You can’t have beans.
Definitely not. No beans! But I have to say I’m not against pasta. A lot of people are against pasta on a first date, but I think it’s fair game.
I agree! Okay, let’s see which pasta? Ah, ah! The preserved lemon pappardelle with roasted pine nuts, feta and zucchini just explodes with flavor. It’s really pretty and it’s casual enough, but it is also something special. And you can just say, ‘Oh, that old thing? I just threw that together.”
Great effect, little effort. We love that! I’ve heard from many cookbook authors that no matter how many books they’ve made in the past, there’s always something that surprises them during the process. I was wondering if there was anything that surprised you about writing this book?
I was surprised that the most rewarding and creatively fulfilling part of this book was actually all of the writing and the top notes. I basically shut down my blog; As I became a mother and worked more on the book, it took a little bit of a backseat Girl Meets Farm. So it’s been quite a while since I’ve actually sat down and actually written anything. You know how sometimes if you take a little time anythingwhether it’s training or cake icing, you come back to it and realize it was So long since you did the last time? It was like the first workout after not training for a couple of weeks. You’re like, “Wow, I’m sore, but this feels really good.”
I can definitely agree with that.
It was truly a soul fulfilling process. After all the recipes were tested and in a great place, I was living at my in-laws house because we were renovating ours, and I would lock myself in the basement every day and just sit under a blanket and write. I’ve rediscovered many voices that I thought had been a bit missed for a while, and I’ve found a joy in them that I didn’t know was missing from my life. I thought, wow, that’s a muscle I don’t want to lose again.
Absolutely. I know that as a mother it can be difficult to take this time for yourself. With that in mind, do you think motherhood has changed the way you cook?
Definitive. I reverted to the whole idea of wanting to have dinner sitting down every night like I did growing up. Then there is also the need to ensure that these tiny growing bodies get nourishment, get excited about food, try new things, and help out in the kitchen.
If it was just Nick and I, Nick would come in after a long day and I’d get bogged down in some donut recipe for my blog and we’d just sit in front of the TV and eat it. But now it’s like, ‘No, we should eat a balanced meal.’ We want Bernie to be happy with what she’s eating and for everyone to sit down and really enjoy each other’s company.
Well I guess my last question would be who do you think this book is for? Do you imagine that specifically for families? Or would you say there is something for everyone?
It’s definitely for families, but it doesn’t to have be for families. These recipes are accessible to cooks of all skill levels, and if you’re busy, there’s so much for you here. It’s about making large batches of things to store in the freezer or a big casserole to enjoy as leftovers the next day. Of course there are some quick and easy everyday recipes, but it’s really a mix. Overall, though, this book is really about cooking for the people you love to eat with and can really be yourself with.