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Molly Yeh, bestselling cookbook author and star of Girl meets farm on Food Network, just released her third cookbook, Home is where the eggs are. A few weeks ago, Molly and I jumped on the phone to talk about the new book, and let’s just say things are heating up fast. Literal! Just as we were saying goodbye, Molly suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no! Fire!” and immediately hung up. It turns out I had just witnessed Molly Yeh’s first oven fire over the phone.
Fortunately, the fire was small and easily contained so we were able to quickly resume our conversation, which focused on how things have changed since the release of her first book, Molly on the Range, in 2016. Most notably, 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, and what she and her family eat these days, which is really the heart and soul of Home is where the eggs are.
Wow, are you okay? What happened?
I was just taking the cinnamon roll out of the oven, and some of the butter and sugar dripped to the bottom of the oven, and it was literally on fire!
Oh my God! That’s so funny. I wanted to ask what you were making. That’s probably happened to me before. How many kiln fires would you say you’ve had in your life?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a fire in the oven! This is the first time. I’ve messed things up a bit on the stove, but never in the oven where I opened it and there were real flames.
Well, I must say I’m kind of honored to be kind of a witness to your first kiln fire! Okay, so I know this is your third book, but a lot has changed in your life over the past few years. What did the recipe development process look like this time around??
Yes, Molly on the Range was very much about great party foods, party foods, like weekend projects, and foods that I would only make a few times a year but really love. This is more food we love every day. Once Bernie was born and she started eating solid foods, I realized that these are the recipes I want to have for our family meals and family breakfasts and everything. Because honestly, to Bernie, I was never a three-meal-a-day person. I would just kind of snack on whatever I was testing for my blog or books or whatever.
Are you a breakfast person?
Yes, I am totally a breakfast person. But for Bernie, I’d like to grab a green juice. But now I love to read her a book and make something special out of breakfast. During the pandemic, I’ve refined a little bit of our favorite dishes and the dinners we come back to again and again. The smoothies we all love. The toast we’ll come back to, and the loaves of bread I bake over the weekend.
The main difference between just eating them or making them with the intention of putting them in the book was that I was grilling Nick every time we ate. How does it taste? Does it need more of this? Does it need more of that? Then I’d stay up late that night, wondering, Should I have done this a little differently?
haha! The life of a recipe developer.
You know how it is! My brain was a bit on overdrive when we sat down. I will say that it is quite nice to be able to just enjoy food and not have to analyze every bite now.
I can imagine. Would you say Bernie is a picky eater or a more open and curious eater?
She’s quite picky. She follows 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 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, this really is our family repertoire. Like this weekend, since it’s finally not 100 degrees in Grand Forks, I’m going to make Chicken and Star Soup. That’s one of our favorites. We also always have a variation on the Crunchy Asian Slaw. Bernie loves potstickers, so we usually do frozen potstickers with that slaw.
I just got real copies of the book, and now it’s so much fun when I have to make a cake, or anything else, that I don’t have to go into my files and take these giant sheets out of the editing stage. Now I can just open the book!
That’s 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 is a nod to our chickens and their beautiful eggs. The chickens are getting 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 has been on my blog Egg Boy for the longest time because he loves eggs.
The title really represents the idea that you turn a house into a home, in my opinion, by cooking something. And it can be as simple as scrambling an egg, because when you do that, you have the smell of the butter cooking, the sound of the crackling, and then sit down at the table to eat together. That, in my opinion, is what makes a space a place where there are memories and where there is warmth and coziness and the feeling of being at home.
Absolute. That is beautiful. I shift 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 making out of 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 make?
And so, when it was just Bernie, and Ira wasn’t in the picture yet, every Sunday afternoon during her nap, I’d get the supplies going, and the smell would go all over the house. It’s just perfect. I would make a big batch so we could have leftovers all week too.
Oh, I like that. Agree. Next one. It’s Tuesday morning. You’re in a hurry. You’re trying to get the kids ready for school, but you want them to eat something solid before they head out the door.
Okay, 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 of them mixed in secret veggies that you can’t taste. They are all just really good and easy to combine.
Love that. Okay, one more. You’re dating someone new and you haven’t cooked for him yet. You want to impress them with your cooking skills. What would you make?
That’s a good one! Okay, I’m trying to think of something that isn’t too garlicky so you don’t get bad garlic breath. And no beans. Right? You can’t have beans.
Certainly not. No beans! However, I will say that I am not against pasta. A lot of people are against pasta on a first date, but I think it’s fair game.
I agree with that! Okay, let’s see which pasta? Ooh! The Preserved Lemon Pappardelle with Fried Pine Nuts, Feta and Zucchini just explodes in flavor. It’s really pretty and it’s casual enough, but it is also special. And you can just be like, “Oh, this old thing? I just mixed this up.”
High impact, low effort. We love that! I’ve heard from many cookbook authors that there’s always something that surprises them in the process, no matter how many books they’ve made in the past. I was wondering if there is anything that surprised you while writing this book?
I was surprised that the most rewarding and creatively fulfilling part of this book was actually all the writing and the headlines. I actually quit my blog; it took a bit of a backseat when I became a mom, and when I worked more on the book, and more on Girl meets farm. So it had been a long time since I had actually sat down and had actually written anything. You know how sometimes, when you take a little bit of time off from doing it? somethingwhether it’s sports or the icing of cakes, you come back to it and you realize it So long since you last did that? It was like the first workout after not training for a few weeks, you think, “Wow, I’m in pain, but that feels really good.”
I can certainly join that.
That was truly a soul-filling process. After trying all the recipes and in a great place, I lived at my in-laws’ house as we were remodeling ours, and I would lock myself in the basement every day and just sit under a blanket and write. I rediscovered many voices that I felt were a bit missing for a while, and I found a joy in them that I didn’t know was missing in my life. I was like, wow, this is a muscle I don’t want to let go by the road anymore.
Absolute. I know as a mother it can be difficult to make that time for yourself. In that sense, do you think being a mom has changed the way you cook?
Surely. I went back to the whole idea of wanting to have sit-down dinners every night like I was growing up. Then we also have to make sure that these little growing bodies get nourishment, get excited about food, try new things and help in the kitchen.
When Nick and I were alone, Nick would come in after a long day, and I’d get lost in some kind of donut recipe for my blog, and we’d just eat it in front of the TV. But now it’s like, “No, we need to make sure there’s a balanced meal.” We want Bernie to get excited about what she’s eating, and for them to all sit down together and really enjoy each other’s company.
Well, I guess my last question would be who would you say this book is for? Do you see it specifically for families? Or would you say there is something for everyone?
It’s definitely for families, but it doesn’t to have to be for families. These recipes are accessible to cooks of all skill levels, and when you’re busy, there’s so much here for you. It’s about making large batches of things to keep in the freezer or making a large casserole that you can enjoy the leftovers the next day. Sure, there are some quick and easy recipes for everyday eating, but it’s really a mix. In general, however, this book is about cooking for the people you love to eat with and who you can really be yourself with.