I hope you’ve all had a beautiful month filled with delicious food.
Recently I’ve been enjoying the work of people like Jonny Miller, who talk about tools that we can use to regulate our nervous system in world that sometimes feels like it’s designed to cause us constant stress. I’ve simultaneously been fascinated by the work that Jonathan Haidt is doing diving into the steep decline we’re seeing in mental health, especially as it relates to teenagers and their use of phones and social media.
I think that many of us don’t even need to see data to understand this phenomenon. We live in an era of endless scrolling and cheap dopamine, where we’re constantly plugged in, notified, and online. We have screen fatigue, social media fatigue, and feel like we’re living in an increasingly digital world— even as we simultaneously crave the real world, sensory experiences that are so innately human.
I don’t have all the answers here, but I strongly believe that cooking is an incredible tool in our repertoire that can serve as an antidote to many of these problems we face. Cooking roots you firmly in the physical world. It requires the use of your hands to manipulate physical objects and the use of all of your senses to guide your actions. It requires presence and mindfulness, and it can be an amazing way to bring people together and create community. These are all things that are often missing in the digital sphere.
Inspired by Jonny’s work, I’ve been thinking a lot about how cooking can be used as a tool to calm and regulate the nervous system, rather than something that stresses us out. I have a few tips below that have helped me create a practice around cooking that’s mindful, enjoyable, and calming. Hopefully they’re helpful to you as well.
Take a few big, calming, deep breaths before you cook, and a few more before you eat.
Do a brief clean of your kitchen prior to starting to cook— this will make your space more calm and the process more enjoyable.
Do a quick mise en place— prep and organize some of your ingredients in advance so that you can remove as much chaos from the process as possible.
Keep the space tidy and clean as you go— it can help to have a trash bowl in your prep area. Avoid leaving things like dirty spoons and open jars in your prep area.
Put your phone in another room.
Listen to music while you cook. Even better— listen to a full album cover to cover. Don’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks— they pull you from the present moment.
Focus on the process of cooking. User your senses— the feeling of the food in your hands, the smells, sights, and sounds that are constantly changing and that guide you as you cook. When you really tap into this, it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience.
Now, onto the newsletter!
I’ve decided to try a new experiment, and I’m going to start offering what I’m calling culinary coaching. I love helping people learn how to cook at home— it’s been the primary focus of all the content that I put out. Several months ago my friend Paul asked for some one-on-one help to improve his home cooking. We worked together, and I realized that it was a ton of fun and that Paul made amazing progress (he wrote about the process in his excellent newsletter here).
So I’ve decided to try this at a slightly bigger scale— I’m going to work one-on-one with a few highly motivated people to help them master their cooking goals. I’m intentionally keeping the program super small for now so that I can offer really personalized guidance to each person. If you’re interested in this, I put more information on my website, along with a form to reach out!
In a few past newsletters I highlighted an organic olive oil brand I love called Herb & Olive. Since finding the brand, I’ve gotten to know the founder David and he’s become a friend. Recently he rebranded Herb & Olive to Zimm’s Organics.
I first came across Herb & Olive when I was searching for a domestic olive oil brand that was fully organic. After getting to know David, I realized we were completely aligned on our philosophy around food, quality, sourcing, and sustainability. I absolutely love this olive oil, and it’s become the oil I use the most.
Here’s what I love about it— it’s sourced from 100% single-origin, single-varietal organic olives, grown and pressed in California, packaged in glass bottles with organic matte ink that protect the oil from light exposure, has beautiful packaging and design, and— most importantly— is really, really delicious.
Dave is offering two different types of oil. Heal is made from first-press olives— it’s a peppery, robust, and strong finishing oil. Cook is made from later-season olives, is a bit more mellow, and has a higher polyphenol concentration (which helps protect the oil from oxidizing with heat, making it ideal for cooking).
Bottles are available for pre-order now and will ship in April. If you do decide to purchase, you can use the code MYLES10 for 10% off. If you try it, let me know what you think!
I love following Noma and their food lab Noma Projects on Instagram. They post some pretty ridiculous experiments, and they’re definitely on the cutting edge of fermentation and flavor.
Last year they debuted a line of products for home cooks, starting with their smoked mushroom garum. I bought a bottle and found a ton of cool ways to use it. Now they’re back with two new products— cep oil and whiskey vinegar.
I haven’t purchased either yet, but I’m a vinegar fanatic and am quite tempted by the whiskey vinegar. Noma’s products definitely aren’t everyday pantry items, but they’re incredibly unique and will challenge you to find cool use cases for them. They also make a great gift for any adventurous cooks in your life.
Acorn Bluff Farms
The good folks at Acorn Bluff Farms recently sent me some of their pork to try, and I was super impressed. They raise Mangalitsa pigs, which are a heritage breed of pork known for their dark color and gorgeous fat content.
I really enjoyed cooking with this meat, and I highly recommend you check them out.
Trust is Key with Frank Prisinzano
I’m a big fan of Frank Prisinzano and his approach to cooking. If you haven’t yet seen his Instagram, his way of cooking via “methods” rather than recipes is awesome and has been a big inspiration for me.
This interview with Frank is from several years ago, but it’s a great one. There are so many new podcasts coming out on a weekly basis that it can feel like you’re constantly listening to something new— I love going way back and finding a timeless gem like this. Frank’s approach to cooking, life, philosophy, and business are all super inspiring.
Wood Cutting Boards
I recently purchased a butcher block from Made In (my favorite cookware company), and I’m a bit obsessed.
I believe that objects have energy, and they impart that energy into the spaces they occupy. There’s something about a good-quality wood cutting board that just feels and looks so much better than plastic. Not to mention the fact that wood is naturally antimicrobial, lasts a long time with proper care, is more gentle on your knife, and won’t leak microplastics into your food. It’s a no-brainer.
I love my Made In butcher block, but I also highly recommend anything by John Boos, and this cutting board from Matty Matheson looks great, too.
If you do go with Made In, you can use the code MYLES15 for 15% off.
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Myles! I love how you're connecting the dots between Jonny's work and cooking 👩🏻🍳 Couldn't help but notice the knife on your new wood board. What type of chef's knife do you enjoy using?
Thanks Myles. I was not aware of the Noma lab site. Trying the whisky beurre blanc with poache egg and leafy greens tomorrow.