In Her New Book, Molly Yeh Goes Back to Basics

On Food Network’s Girl Meets Farm, Molly Yeh is calm and collected as she walks viewers through her recipes. In a cozy kitchen stuffed with knick knacks and colorful drawings, Yeh looks at home—probably because it is her home. Or, part of it. Yeh films the show at her farm in Minnesota, but the filming kitchen is separate from her everyday, household kitchen.

No matter how many steps the recipe might have or how involved the cooking techniques are, Yeh explains everything in a soft, confident tone, all while throwing in a few jokes. The whole vibe says “yeah, I can whip up a gourmet meal, and so can you.” It’s approachable and encouraging, just like Yeh herself.

While she has 11 seasons of the show under her belt now, it was her first cookbook, Molly on the Range, that catapulted her into the national spotlight. That book was a celebration of big moments; the birthdays and anniversaries, the dinner parties with friends.

But a lot has changed since Molly on the Rage debuted in 2016. Most importantly, Yeh is a mother now. Her world, and her cooking routines, have shifted. With her new book (out today), Home is Where the Eggs Are, Yeh is zeroing in on the little moments: the favorite meal your toddler can’t get enough of, or what to make when everyone in your house is rushed and cranky. The subtitle of the book is Farmhouse Food for the People You Love and that shines through in recipes made with her family in mind.

Modern Farmer spoke with Yeh about her new book and why this one is her most personal offering yet. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Modern Farmer: How do you view this book in relation to your other cookbooks and in relation to your show?

Yeh: This is our family’s collection of recipes that we love to have on a regular basis. While Molly on the Range was about big celebrations and huge weekend projects and things to eat when you really want to indulge, these are the recipes that we make so often and enjoy together as a family. It’s not about having big parties or celebrations or big holidays, it’s simply about enjoying the everyday meals.

MF: With all of the success of Molly on the Range and your other projects, was there pressure with this book?

Yeh: Honestly, I just wanted to create this for my family. I want this to be recipes that people cook for their own family, whether that is their immediate family or it’s their best friends or their roommates or just their closest people that they really feel like they can be themselves around.

After getting to know what that book writing process was like, I was able to slow down and enjoy it a little bit more and I felt a lot more confident. It’s like having a second child or a third child; you have the confidence now to know more about the mechanics of how writing a book works, and that gives you more space to be creative and to really enjoy it and put more heart into it.

With these recipes being everyday recipes, they also did double duty in my life. These were things that I could test on my family, so I wouldn’t have to do recipe development for work and then come home and make a different thing for dinner. It was all very fluid.

MF: Does it seem like your audience has grown along with you?

Yeh: I have so many blogger friends, from when I started off blogging, and I was baking a lot of cakes and hosting parties and making cocktails and appetizers and stuff. Now, a lot of those people are settling down; we’re having families. And it’s more about how we can get our toddlers to eat vegetables and protein than if I’m going to make a cake and use a tequila in the frosting. It is a very different stage of life, but that’s a great thing to think about.

MF: This is definitely a book that incorporates family life, whatever that might look like for the reader. You talk about batch cooking, meal prep, using leftovers. And you talk about how you personally cook at home. Why did you decide to get so personal?

Yeh: You know, there was a big shift in my brain almost as soon as Bernie was born. (Yeh’s daughter, Bernadette, was born in the spring of 2019.) All of a sudden, there was this new person in my life, and if I wanted to write about her on the blog or on social media, I couldn’t ask her if she was OK with a picture. Before when it was just [my husband Nick], if ever I was telling a story about him, I would always have him proofread my blog posts and look at pictures before I put them up. And with kids, they don’t have the ability to make that decision. So, for that reason, and because I just wanted to enjoy our family time without necessarily sharing everything, I really backed off from blogging.

But with this book, we were planning the photo shoots, and I thought, well, if Bernie’s hands make it in a few shots, I think that would help to liven up some of these photos and to really illustrate the fact that this is a family book. And I was fully expected to just maybe get a few shots of her hand eating chicken soup, and that would be it. But then when we were cooking through all these recipes and taking the pictures, she got so into it and was so excited about it and loved it so much that I let her have her fun and we captured it.

I mean, it’s crazy to look at the pictures now, because they were taken over a year ago and she looks so different. But I think it captures a beautiful moment in time. So, with choosing the stories, it was the same process of capturing a moment in time, in our real lives.

MF: There’s a story in the book that I loved, where you were preparing for pregnancy by making all of these stews and casseroles and heavy dishes, and then all of a sudden you just craved salads. I just thought, yeah. That’s exactly what would happen in real life.

Yeh: We might still have some frozen mac and cheese in our deep freeze from that!

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