As an editor, Judith Jones introduced the world to food legends like Julia Child, James Beard and Marcella Hazan. Here she shares a recipe from her latest book, ‘Love Me, Feed Me,’ a collection of dishes you can share with your dog.
NEXT TIME YOU’RE feeling uninspired or too lazy to cook, think of Judith Jones, the book editor who introduced the world to Julia Child as well as food legends James Beard, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis and Madhur Jaffrey. Her legacy also includes three books co-authored with her late husband, Evan Jones, and three of her own. At 90 years old, she continues to make supper nearly every night, and to eat it at a table beside a wall of hanging pots in her kitchen on New York City’s Upper East Side. “It’s sort of indecent,” she said, “because sometimes, I begin to think around 4 o’clock, ‘Hm, is it almost time to start cooking?’ ” These days, she cooks mostly for herself and her Havanese dog, Mabon. To help others do the same, she wrote “Love Me, Feed Me: Sharing With Your Dog the Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy,” published last month by Knopf. Even those without canine companions are sure to find Ms. Jones’s simple recipes—and her delight in sharing them—highly motivating.
The thing that most people notice first about my kitchen is: all these hanging pots. I think hiding all your wonderful pots and pans is an expression of my mother’s generation, when a kitchen was just utilitarian; nobody had fun in there.
The tools I can’t live without are: a wooden spatula and a wooden fork. Wood doesn’t scrape the bottom of your pans so much. It’s gentle.
The cookbook I turn to again and again is:“Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” [Julia Child’s] wonderfully analytic way of expressing what is special about French cooking—and how to translate it to the American kitchen—was thrilling. I still go back when I’m sort of refreshing myself: “Well, what did Julia say about that?”
The pot I reach for most is: the smallest size Le Creuset [enameled cast-iron] saucepan. I have it in copper, too. That’s just great for Mabon and me. It’s sometimes the pots that make you a better cook, so people should get pots that are pure and efficient and well-made. Good ones last a lifetime.
At this time of year, my favorite thing to eat is: root vegetables. Growing up, most of the winter we had turnips and parsnips. I remember when the first asparagus would appear in the spring, I would just cry with delight! I think that’s rather good for your palate, to hold back for when a vegetable is really ready.
I first became interested in food: when I went abroad with my husband. My awakening was clearly in France. I tell the story, in this new book, of [chef-restaurateur] Fernand Point having us in for a lunch. He didn’t know who we were; we were just scruffy Americans. But that was a great experience—a turning point, in a way, in my life. And then I had a Hungarian sister-in-law, and she introduced me to Hungarian food. She was born a countess and then she met Mr. Jones, my husband’s brother. From countess to Jones, what a tumble.
When I entertain, I like to: keep it simpler these days. When I entertained after I first came back from France, it was four courses. Always something with the drink. The main course or fish course, with a vegetable garnish—at least one—and a starch garnish. Now we’re finally up to the salad, and cheese. And, well, that’s a lot of stuff. And then dessert and coffee. Now I’d be more likely to do what I call a “made dish.” It’s all cooked and ready, and you pop it into the oven to reheat.
I don’t like it when my dinner guests: bring something. I think we’re doing too much of that. It ruins the dinner. You plan a beautifully balanced meal, and then in comes a cupcake and people feel they have to taste it and ooh and aah, and it has nothing to do with your dinner. A bottle of wine is nice and helpful, and sometimes some cheese.
I like to drink: Campari. It just cleanses me somehow and gets me ready for dinner. It’s actually better, I think, than a glass of wine on an empty stomach. But once we’re into the food, I’m a good wine drinker.
A typical breakfast for me is: my own granola with Vermont maple syrup. And I have some blueberries and bananas. If I’m in Paris, it’s a croissant and café au lait, with the lait, you know, warm and almost bubbling on the top. I love breakfast. And then I love lunch.
On weeknights, I often cook: some wonderful pork tenderloins. Usually what I end up doing is making a roast with vegetables around. It’s so simple. And then I have some left for a quick stir-fry with vegetables the next night. Or a little hash. I love hashes: You open your fridge and you see what’s in there, so they’re always a little bit different.
One of the most underrated foods is: again, root vegetables. It’s interesting to use them in different ways—not just as a separate vegetable, but, say, in a ravioli. They’re new tastes, and yet familiar. I think if you reach too hard for the new, it’s a mistake.
A food trend I’m totally over is: kale. I was trying new green vegetables on my dog, Mabon. So, with all this talk that you could hardly survive without eating kale three times a day, I decided to try a little bit. I stir-fried it and put three little clumps in his dish. And he sniffed each clump, picked each one up and put it over there, and there, and there—and walked away. I was proud of him. Good boy!
—Edited from an interview by Charlotte Druckman-
Ace Cooking Author News