She’s set to change the way we view batch cooking, so we sat down with Susan Jane White to talk about her new book, trusting your body and the life-changing nature of freezer dressings
Susan Jane White is a woman on a mission, to change how you view family cooking and to turn batch cooking into an occasion in itself. So, we sat down with her to pick her brains on all things batch cooking.
What’s your top tip for people who want to start eating better but may not know where to start?
Start by lovebombing your kitchen space! Batch cooking is transformational both physically and emotionally. Light some candles, clear the kitchen counter and get your mitts on a badass Spotify list. Or download some comedy podcasts to keep you company. When you turn cooking into an enjoyable hobby, you’re more likely to prepare food that is good for your body, your mind and your soul. Then freeze half of it for another evening. The Clever Batch cookbook encourages you to do exactly this. Who has the time to cook every single evening?!
Do you think people should think about what they put into their bodies?
Not exactly. I think it’s incredibly important to develop a relationship with your body, and to notice how certain foods can make you feel. That’s different to the stress of dissecting what goes into your body. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. We are all unique and function differently. Only you can know your body best – after all, you’re the one who has to live in it. Eating should not be stressful – it’s a joyful occupation and should be full of whoppee!
When you want to treat yourself what do you eat?
I don’t consciously “treat” myself. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Fragmenting food into “good” and “bad” doesn’t wash with me. I did it as a teenager, and can say with absolute certainty that this way of thinking is disempowering. At 40, I know my body better. I respect my body by truly listening to it and providing it with the food it needs and wants.
But if you want to gauge how much sweet treats I mainline, then I guess I can tell you that I’ll always have a stash of miso caramels and kickass halva in the freezer (both recipes in Clever Batch). There are almond butter brownies on tap in my house. And I love playing with coffee too – this week I’m seeing a lot of hazelnut cream and cold brew (also in Clever Batch). If I’m away for example, out of my stash’s orbit, I’ll have dark chocolate lining my pockets and likely a jar of Pip n’Nut almond butter with Medjools. These are simple go-to’s that never let me or my serotonin down!
What’s your favourite five-minute meal?
Cup of hot rooibos tea and coffee caramels from the freezer! (That’s 30 seconds. Let me try again). Something I regularly do for lunch is a poached egg, spicy kimchi and sliced avocado on top of really good toasted sourdough from Bread Nation or Sceal for example. I usually have a swag of freezer dressings stored in my freezer too, like cubes of sriracha or chimichurri, to pop over eggs and avocado any day of the week. This idea of “freezer dressings” has changed my life completely. All you need is one silicone ice cube tray, and you can stock your freezer with kickass dressings to excite your eggs on toast all month long!
Do you think there’s an option for people to eat a plant-based diet some of the time or are you an all or nothing advocate?
I’m with Samuel Beckett on this one: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” We’ll never combat climate change if we leave it to the evangelists, right? Meat is not bad. No need to swear off it altogether. Scientists warn that the QUANTITY we eat is unhealthy and unsustainable. Therein lies the problem.
For climate reasons, for financial reasons and for health reasons, meat shouldn’t be a daily feature in my life. That’s why most of my recipes are heavy on veg and flavour. For raging carnivores out there, bone broth and chicken stock will get you through the days you give meat a well-deserved break (although there are some awesome meat recipes too, designed specifically to help you reduce the quantity of meat in your diet. I walk you through this in a section called ‘Meathos’ in my book).
Read more: 6 reasons to drink bone broth
What’s your favourite recipe in this book?
We’ve been prostrating the butternut and cardamom daal for eight years now, and still not sick of it. It’s so fabulous with cooling clouds of almond yoghurt, and chickpea poppadoms to the side (I get the supermarket ones which are pretty dang good).
The speedy miso caramel has its own fan club on our square (headed by my children, who use it as currency). You can freeze it in batches. Or refrigerate it for 10 days. Again, I reckon I’ve been making this for nearly 10 years and it’s still a regular feature in our home.
But rather than having a favourite recipe in the book, I have a favourite feeling. It’s a feeling of tranquillity. Of calmness. Of control. Of space, physically and mentally. That’s what batch cooking has afforded me. Everything tastes better when you’re less stressed.
Read more: Susan Jane White’s Kimcheese Toastie Recipe
Clever Batch by Susan Jane White (Gill Books €24.99) is available now in bookshops and online