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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Learn To Cook Without A Recipe

Do you know how to cook without following a recipe? Chef, nutritionist and teacher Susan Crowther wants to teach you how with “The No Recipe Cookbook.”

"Most cookbooks just teach you how to follow a recipe. What I had hoped to do is empower people to just learn the basics of cooking."

“Most cookbooks just teach you how to follow a recipe,” Crowther says. “What I had hoped to do is empower people to just learn the basics of cooking.”

Crowther says it’s important for new cooks to understand basic ingredients, basic procedures, and even basic philosophies of cooking. She also runs down a list of versatile ingredients that should always be kept on hand. Staples like beans, nuts and seeds make this list, along with a few surprising flavorings.

“Things like tamari, which is the healthier version of soy sauce, Crowther says. “And miso, which is a cousin to tamari.”

Miso, Crowther says, was the inspiration for the book.

“The No Recipe Cookbooks” is meatless, and there is also a focus on minimizing waste in the kitchen.

Crowther says beginners often rely too heavily on recipes. Understanding ratios and procedures can help new cooks to be flexible when substituting ingredients and can take the intimidation out of cooking.

“What I had hoped people would get out of the book was to trust their own guts, and listen to their voices in the kitchen,” Crowther says.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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