A Couple Cooks are one of those Instagram accounts you are almost definitely following if you are interested in healthy food and beautiful photography. But do you know the team behind the drool-worthy feed?
We’re delighted to have Sonja from A Couple Cooks on the Magazine this week to talk to us about their book Pretty Simple Cooking and tell us all about taking their blog into hard-copy, physical form. It’s just like having a baby…. a book baby that is!
Tell us a little about yourselves – where did A Couple Cooks originate?
Alex and I got married 10 years ago, bought a house, and wanted to have people over for dinner. At the time, we knew next to nothing about food. I could microwave frozen dinners and pour milk over cereal and that was about it. For one of our first dinners, someone lent us a cookbook from Julia Child. Her personality burst to life and she encouraged me that anyone could learn to cook, even if they had no experience like we did! That started a spiral of making dinner after dinner for friends and falling in love with the process.
Around the same time, we read the book Food Matters by Mark Bittman, which challenged us to eat minimally processed foods and as many vegetables as possible. We were pleasantly surprised that eating more from-scratch vegetarian meals gave us more energy, made us feel happier and sleep better. We started discovering how delicious vegetables could taste when prepared at home, and started our blog to share these recipes with others.
On our blog A Couple Cooks, we post the vegetarian and vegan recipes we create, designed to taste good and please the whole family. We try to balance creative with approachable, and cook with fresh and seasonal produce as much as possible.
Your new book Pretty Simple Cooking is due out this week. Tell us about what our readers will find in there when they purchase a copy.
Pretty Simple Cooking is 100 of our favorite vegetarian recipes, many of them vegan and gluten-free, and all of them designed to be doable and delicious. In each chapter, we’ve arranged them in order from quickest and simplest to more complex and time-consuming.
What is “pretty simple”? It’s not easy, or 5-ingredient, though some of the recipes in the book are. To us, cooking is not easy, but it can be pretty simple once you orient your life around the kitchen. In the book, we share our top 10 lessons for a pretty simple approach to cooking healthy food on the regular. For example: learning how to learn from failure, having a balanced approach, being mindful about the way you eat, respecting the ingredients, and cooking with friends and family.
What was the most challenging aspect about writing a book?
Writing a book is a huge logistical challenge: there are so many details to writing a book with 100 recipes! Alex and I also did all the photography together, which adds another layer of complexity. And all recipes in the book were tested many times by testers around the country and world. I would say the most challenging aspect is creating a huge amount of very high quality work and hitting your deadlines on time.
While writing the book, we both had office jobs during the day and were running the blog and our podcast on the side. It was the busiest year of our life. But, it was also an incredible way to hone our skills of working together as a husband and wife creative team!
Did you have any recipes you repurposed from your blog or social channels? Or did you create entirely fresh content?
Our publisher specified that 10% of our recipes could be repurposed from our blog. In the end, it was less than that, and even recipes that we used from the blog we tweaked to be even better!
Your launch party idea is so unique and enables people to get involved worldwide! Tell us a bit more about it and how you came up with the idea.
Thank you! Alex and I were brainstorming ways to use the incredible technology that connects us to do something virtual with people around the globe. We had tried out the cookbook club concept (where you host a dinner party and each person brings a recipe from the same cookbook), and thought — why don’t we have a huge virtual cookbook club? Since not everyone knows what a cookbook club is, we changed it to “dinner party”.
The Pretty Simple dinner party now has 350 hosts all over the world who will be hosting a dinner party on February 17, each making at least 1 recipe from the book! We have everything from small family dinners to large parties at cooking schools or using local produce.
What is the thing you wished you knew when you started writing the book?
Good question! I guess I’d want to tell myself that things will evolve over time, that it will be a process, and that much of what you think it will be at the start may change. The A Couple Cooks who started writing the book is different from the A Couple Cooks now (since it happened over 2 years), but that is the exciting thing about writing a book! It evolves into something as you evolve as people.
What would you tell someone thinking about writing their own book?
It is a complete labor of love. I’m not sure how many hours we spent on it, but I never want to know! If we were in it purely for financial reasons, it would make more sense to spend those hours on our business.
However, it’s a dream to be able to create a physical book fully your own and get it into the hands of people all over the world (especially since all of what we create as part of our business is digital!). It’s tiring and you’ll want to quit about 20 times–but in the end, it’s worth it!
We talk about it being our “book baby”: it absolutely feels like a physical birth of something that’s lived in our heads for so long. We’re so excited to bring it into the world!
Pre-order your copy of Pretty Simple Cooking now. Want to get involved in the worldwide launch dinner party? Go to the A Couple Cooks website to request to join.