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On Home Cooking, Marriage, Butter and Spelt

By Andrea Milstein, Cooking with an Accent

Thanks to Michael Pollan, I now have confirmation for something I’ve been having a hunch for some time. According to his article “Out of the Kitchen, onto the Couch”, which appeared in the NYT magazine this past weekend, people who cook and eat at home weigh less and are happier. Voila, hadn’t I been saying this for years, just not quite as eloquently and elegantly as Michael Pollan, which surely must have to do with  English not being my first language. I love that excuse.

Let’s first tackle why people who cook are usually thinner. Cooking is work. All that peeling and chopping, stirring and cleaning up consumes calories. Maybe not. How about pinning it on the donkey of “being able to control the ingredients that go into your dishes”. Could it be that this is a question of quality? In my household it definitely is. When your fresh, high quality ingredients cost more you have a tendency to buy less. But here is the real killer: You will start to feel satisfied quicker because your taste buds will start to bloom sooner and dutifully report back to your brain without missing their signal that you are full. Who would have thunk?

Now to the happiness factor, which is less tricky than I originally thought. You will forgive me for throwing in my personal situation but my husband has jokingly mentioned more than once that he could never leave me because he’d miss all that good food plus would probably get fat without my cooking. Mission accomplished. Don’t mistake the getting fat comment for “I use no or low fat in my cooking”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Butter, lard and cream are everyday staples in my kitchen BUT they don’t originate in the supermarket. I buy directly from farmers and farmers’ markets and at this time of year my garden produces most of my vegetables.

We eat a varied diet: meat and chicken, eggs and dairy, all of which come directly from the farm.  In terms of grains I use spelt almost exclusively which I buy in quantity from an organic farmer in Pennsylvania. I also have an electric stone mill which I acquired nearly 20 years ago and which is an indispensable machine in the western part of Austria where I come from.  And yes, I do all my own baking. On paper I’m starting to look like super woman but all of this does not eat up my days because most fresh and real food requires not a lot of manipulation. I would recommend, however, that you acquire a number of basic cooking skills.

I came to cooking in a roundabout way and started teaching classes on the recommendation of a friend who liked my unfussy approach. When friends and acquaintances introduce me they often use the word gourmet cook which I vehemently reject. I consider myself a home cook (not to be confused with home buddy) and home cooking is what I teach. A number of techniques coupled with information of how to improve your overall cooking experience is what I try to pass along. Classes are starting again in September and I try to keep them fun, informative and inexpensive.  For more information check my web-site:

Andrea Milstein is a wife, mother, homemaker and cooking instructor in Oakton, Virginia. She is an active member of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Northern Virginia Whole Foods Meetup group. Visit her Cooking with an Accent website. Andrea has agreed to be a regular contributor to Hartke Is Online! Please let us know in the comments if you try one of her delicious recipes!

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