CommitmentNow: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Robin Miller: All my books seem to come out of necessity – during a certain period of my life. The Newlywed Cookbook came to life when I realized (as a newly married woman!) that I didn’t have much of a clue how to cook (a truly daunting feeling!). So, I quit my marketing job and spent an entire year cooking, learning and creating recipes. I also returned to school and received my Masters in Nutrition. At first, the recipes were just intended for my husband and me but I soon realized there were countless couples out there that faced the same dinner dilemma. I turned my favorite recipe creations (plus tons of tips) into a comprehensive cookbook for beginners and couples of all ages.
CommitmentNow: You have a great suggestion for newlyweds: unpack all those fancy kitchen gadgets you registered for and get cooking! Why do you think so many young couples are afraid to cook?
Robin: Probably because it’s their first REAL attempt to put wholesome meals on the table. Plus, many of us want to impress our new spouses and we’re afraid to make ANY mistakes! Truth is, some of my best meals came from true kitchen blunders – you’d be surprised how you can turn a seemingly worthless meal in a mouth-watering one.
CommitmentNow: In your experience, do most young couples order in or eat out more than they cook?
Robin: I think most couples bring home fully prepared meals and eat out more than they cook. And, it’s not because they’re afraid, it’s a true lack of time with our busy schedules. The good news is, ALL my books boast satisfying, healthy and delicious meals that are ready in just minutes.
CommitmentNow: Some of the recipes you include in The Newlywed Cookbook sound complicated, but in fact are pretty simple. Did you alter them for this book?
Robin: Nope, I didn’t alter anything one bit. Most restaurant items that sound fancy are ALSO pretty simple! Fancy terms don’t mean fancy footwork in the kitchen. And, you’re absolutely correct when you mention that most of my recipes are simple to prepare yet loaded with flavor and fun.
CommitmentNow: You include a helpful glossary of herbs and spices which describes the taste and origins of the herbs and spices used in your recipes. These types of ingredients can seem intimidating at first. What advise would you give to someone who has never cooked with turmeric, for example?
Robin: That’s exactly why I wrote that section – to help people discover new herbs and spices without being afraid! Most containers of herbs and spices have labels with a few hints, such as “Turmeric is a great addition to curries, rice and chicken dishes, fish soups, and is a nice addition to melted butter that’s then drizzled over pasta, cooked vegetables and potatoes”. I did the same type of thing in my Spice Index. Use these tips to create new dishes with unique flavors any night of the week.
CommitmentNow: Even though these recipes are focused on newlywed cooking, couldn't they be used way beyond the first years of marriage?
Robin: Absolutely. In fact, I have many people – from college students to empty-nesters – thank me for recipes that take just minutes to prepare but boast the flavors of long cooking times and tricky cooking techniques.
CommitmentNow: Do you see cooking as an opportunity for couples to spend more time together?
Robin: Definitely. My husband doesn’t actually “help” with the cooking (I don’t let him!), but just hanging out together in the kitchen is an excellent time to talk about the day’s events and catch up with life.
CommitmentNow: What advice do you have for newlyweds who have never before spent much time in the kitchen?
Robin: Start with simple recipes and flavors you both enjoy. As you gain courage in the kitchen, branch out (try a new herb or spice, try baking quick-bread, cookies or a pie, roast a chicken, and so on). Cooking together (or in my case, just being with my family in the kitchen!) is an ideal way to build and grow relationships and memories that last a lifetime.
Robin Miller has a master’s degree in food and nutrition and is host of the Food Network show Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller. She is a contributing editor for Cooking Light. Her regular columns appear in Shape, Health, Natural Health, Men’s Fitness and Jump. She has also written articles on food and health for Family Circle, Mademoiselle, Woman’s Day and First for Women.