“My strategy is simple: I don't meal plan. I eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it. Spontaneity is possible, and you can do this. I’ll show you how.”
Devin Connell, chef and creator of This Is Crumb, knows that real people with busy lives want simple, delicious meals that are easy to prepare and impossible to resist. But she also knows that planning Thursday’s dinner on Monday morning doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Because what happens when you see a picture of a roast chicken thigh on Instagram, and now you just need roast chicken? When it comes to her own kitchen, Devin wants to be free of a plan and cook what she craves.
But if the thought of this non-plan plan has you breaking out in a sweat, take a deep breath and dive in to Conveniently Delicious. You’ll soon learn that spontaneity is possible, whether you’re cooking for yourself, for your partner, or for a casual gathering with friends. If you’ve got a kitchen that is stocked with the right basics, a combination of fresh produce and shelf-stable items, the opportunities for mixing and matching are endless. Bold, punchy flavors, bright colors, and meals for any day of the week—it’s all within your reach.
Think of easy nibbles such as Labneh with Bursted Tomatoes & Dill; gorgeous salads like Nectarine, Baby Gem, Fried Almond & Feta; hearty vegetables such as Roasted Acorn Squash with Hazelnut & Fried Rosemary; and effortlessly impressive mains, like 10-Minute Pasta with Italian Tuna, Olives & Lemon or Salt & Pepper Flank Steak with Quick Tomato Shallot Kimchi. And, obviously, always dessert—an Upside Down Skillet Apple Crumble or a Lemon Pudding with Salted Graham Crumb is the perfect way to end a meal.
Written with Devin’s sharp humor and straightforward style, and full of absolutely stunning, sumptuous photography, Conveniently Delicious is a collection of recipes that you’ll come back to again and again. As Devin says, this cookbook is guaranteed to make you feel lighter about mealtimes than when you started, even if, most of the time, she’s talking about how to make you feel full.
About the author
DEVIN CONNELL is the founder of the popular website Crumb, as well as a cookbook author, recipe developer and Food Network Canada personality. She also founded Delica Kitchen, a catering company and small group of restaurants in Toronto. A wife and mother of two boys, she's no stranger to a messy kitchen.
Excerpt: Conveniently Delicious: How to Cook and Eat with Spontaneity and Joy (by (author) Devin Connell)
From as far back as I can remember, my favorite moments have always centered on food: Cooking with my Belgian grandmother, baking bread with my dad or skipping summer camp to start a cookie business (just like any normal, well-adjusted teenager, right?). Growing up, family meals were a time to talk, to laugh and, of course, to eat well. I never considered the possibility that the focus of my life would be anything other than food. As they say, when you know, you know.
That single-minded focus came to fruition when, in my late 20s, I opened the first of my three cafés and bakeries, Delica Kitchen, in Toronto. I also fulfilled a lifelong dream of publishing a cookbook with my mom—an ode to our love of family, friends and the kitchen table. After several years in the restaurant business (and raising two small boys), I began to realize that there was so much more that I wanted to communicate about food and gathering. The way I ate in my early 20s was different from the way I now eat with my growing family. In my 20s, I used to relish eating alone because I could cook whatever my heart desired, whereas now, my cooking considers everyone at the table and what they might like. Feeding my family and friends, and having a kitchen bursting at the seams with mess, fun and one or two food fights, makes me happy—even though the cleanup can be much more work. For a long time, I have wanted to share all the wonderful things I’ve learned—whether they came from my own kitchen, my restaurants or my travels across the globe in search of new inspiration. My website, Crumb, was born as a place for all of these good bits to live.
Crumb is a lifestyle platform that celebrates the power of food to bring people pleasure, and to bring them together. To break free from meal planning. To cook—and eat—with spon - taneity and joy. Crumb shares expert insights, practical tips and tools, and straightforward recipes to make easy, wholesome family meals a reality. Crumb is dedicated to celebrating life’s simple pleasures: food, travel, family and entertaining, and to keeping good company along the way.
If you find yourself reading this book, I think it’s safe to assume that you, like me, LOVE not just eating but being in the kitchen and cooking too. Of course, it’s about getting from A to B with as little fuss as possible, but there’s so much fun to be had in between, right? For those of us who love to cook, we can often get bogged down by technique (fricassee vs. concasse?!), timing (because, yeah, I have six hours to braise) and the often-arduous task of kitchen and meal prep. Who has the energy? And is the alternative then “fast” food? It doesn’t need to be. Life is busy. I get that. We need food, fast. But we also want something that is wholesome, delicious, easy to prepare and appealing to the whole family and, as much as possible, can be made in 30 minutes or less. Too big an ask? Heck NO!
My strategy is simple: I don’t meal plan. I eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, because deciding what to eat for Thursday’s dinner on Monday morning doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I’ll want pasta, or grilled fish, or a hearty salad. Maybe I’ll see a picture of a roast chicken thigh on Instagram and now I just NEED roast chicken. I want to be free of a plan and I want to cook what I crave. Some of you might break out into a sweat just imagining the anxiety this non-plan plan might induce, but let me tell you, this is achiev - able. I understand that we could all use a cheat sheet on our quest for happier, fuller lives. I want that cheat sheet and those tried-and-true shortcuts that really go the distance. But I also want to embrace the messy mistakes that turn into memorable moments.
Spontaneity is possible, even during the weekday crunch. My first recommendation to achieve this is to have a kitchen that is always stocked with the right basics, a combination of fresh produce and shelf-stable items. If you’ve got the right pieces, the opportunities for mixing and matching are endless. I believe that less is more, and a truly delicious meal doesn’t really need more than a handful of ingredients, most of which are things kicking around your kitchen already.
You’ll begin to notice pretty quickly that I favor punchy, bold flavors (hi vinegar, salt, lemons, fresh herbs, capers, fish sauce, tangy yogurt, Parm) that can do wonders for any simple dish. All of my recipes are meant to inspire creativity and spontaneity in the kitchen. I use simple methods to create deliciously straightforward dishes that are fun to cook, all while celebrating seasonal produce and quality products and ingredients. Gathering together over good food is one of life’s greatest joys, and you will find my favorite entertain - ing tips peppered throughout the chapters. It’s all meant to be fun, not stressful.
And the most important rule of thumb when cooking? Remember why you’re doing it. And who you’re doing it for. We’ve not yet experienced a time when cooking at home and eating together has been more fulfilling. We’re staying in, we’re experimenting, we’re having fun with food.
Everything that you find in Conveniently Delicious is meant to bring you joy, comfort, amusement and perhaps a little spark of “huh—I hadn’t thought of that.” As you read, know that my aim is to leave you feeling a little lighter about mealtimes than when you started . . . even if most of the time I’m talking about how to make you feel full.
PRAISE FOR CONVENIENTLY DELICIOUS
“In this winning debut, Devin proves not only be an engaging writer and cook, but she also introduces an energizing, intuitive approach to feeding a modern family."
—TARA O’BRADY, author of Seven Spoons
“Devin has nailed the way we all want to eat every day. These are sexy weeknight dishes that are colorful and seasonal, and will make this book one that you reach for year-round.”
—EDEN GRINSHPAN, TV host of Top Chef Canada and author of Eating Out Loud
“Grab this book. Keep it open. Cook from it messily, happily, for yourself, or for people you love. Never has there been a better time to let good, wholesome, memory-making food be our adventure.”
—DAPHNE OZ, author, podcaster, and TV host of The Dish on Oz
“Fresh, fun and full of joy, Conveniently Delicious is a cookbook you’ll want to keep within arm’s reach. Devin’s take on family recipes and her modern, easy-going style draw you in and inspire you to cook with abandon!”
—GAIL SIMMONS, TV host and author of Bringing It Home
“It’s for home cooks who have a stocked pantry and don’t do meal planning, and a perfect expression of her high-low philosophy on food and life.” —Toronto Star