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Cooking Quick & Easy

How to Eat with One Hand

Recipes and Other Nourishment for New and Expectant Parents

by (author) Christine Flynn & Emma Knight

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Quick & Easy, Comfort Food, Motherhood
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Over 80 simple, feel-good recipes and 20 essays that take you behind the blackout curtain of early motherhood, where Christine and Emma, the two perfect allies for any new parent, await.

How to Eat with One Hand was born of candid conversations between renowned chef Christine Flynn and Greenhouse beverage company co-founder Emma Knight when motherhood took them by surprise within a few months of one another. This unique collection offers over 80 simple, delicious recipes for every stage of new motherhood. Satisfy your cravings with must-haves like A Very Good Hamburger, Spicy Noods, and Chocolate Sheet Cake with Sour Cream Frosting; give your future sleep-deprived self a gift with satisfying make-ahead meals like White Beans and Greens, Fairy Godmother Minestrone, and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread; and later, please all the palates at the table with Spanish Tortilla, Molasses Brown Bread, and Chilaquiles. In addition, a handful of simple DIYs will help you keep your kids occupied, care for yourself, save money, and reduce your household waste.

So whether you're newly pregnant and nothing could be better than the thing you want to eat right. now. Or whether you need creative ideas to feed your growing family and their growing appetites, How to Eat with One Hand has you covered. In addition to recipes, Christine and Emma offer sustenance of another sort as they recount key moments of their lives as new mothers in 20 essays that are by turns laugh-out-loud funny and so heartwarming you may find yourself asking, "Is someone chopping onions in here?" Whether they get it right or get it wrong, they always get through it—and with How to Eat with One Hand on your shelf, you will too.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

CHRISTINE FLYNN is proprietor of The Good Earth Winery and a partner at The Good Earth Farm in Ontario, Canada. She is executive chef and partner at iQ Food Co., a restaurant group with multiple locations in Toronto. A celebrated writer, food stylist, and photographer, Christine's work has also appeared in The New York Times, Wired and Bon Appètit, among others. She is a chef partner with Zing Pantry Shortcuts. Christine lives in Niagara, Ontario with her family.

EMMA KNIGHT is Co-Founder and Head of Brand at Greenhouse, an award-winning Canadian organic beverage company. Emma is a co-author of The Greenhouse Cookbook (2017), a national bestseller. Her work has appeared in a number of Canadian and international publications. Emma lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.

Excerpt: How to Eat with One Hand: Recipes and Other Nourishment for New and Expectant Parents (by (author) Christine Flynn & Emma Knight)


[Emma] We wrote this for the expectant mother who hasn’t yet told anyone at work and is mouth-breathing through the nausea, trying hard not to fall asleep standing up. And for the new parent on their hands and knees in a pitch-black bedroom with a screaming baby slung over her shoulder, patting the floor to find a pacifier that is made of rubber, so it could have bounced f*cking anywhere.

This book is written by, but not exclusively for, mothers.. Motherhood takes many forms, and any front-line parent or caregiver is likely to need a great deal of sustenance, both edible and emotional. And so, to our fellow new mom– -and-dad types, we offer this collection of simple, comforting recipes for each stage of early parenthood—to be devoured with the one baby-free hand at your disposal—plus a glimpse behind the blackout curtain of new motherhood as we are experiencing it.

[Christine] I didn’t fully respect what it meant to be a mother until I became one. Twice. In fact, if anyone ever considered me blasé about anything, it would have been pregnancy. But then there was the seven-minute span when I first held one baby in my arms, and then another. It was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where everything goes from black and white to colour. My world exploded with every feeling and emotion, and I was turned inside out and left, quite literally, empty and waiting for things to shift back into place. Becoming a mom has been both harder and more wonderful than anything I could have imagined.

It is also intensely lonely. There’s a “grin and bear it” mentality to which many of us default. We aren’t the first women to find ourselves uncomfortably pregnant or willing a snuffling infant to latch (but gently!) or, as I am now, constantly arguing with toddlers. Of course we aren’t the first, but it’s the first time for us. Unprepared as I was, I found myself compelled to offer other pregnant women support—“Do you need anything?” “How are you doing?” “I made 32 gallons of soup, would you like some?!”—and tried my best to be an open book about what had worked (or not) for me. Candour is the best gift you can give an expectant mother. That, and maybe an Eggplant Parmesan (page 50). While much of this book was written with our thumbs, Emma and I had an unwavering vision of what it should and could be.

[E] You know that feeling when you’re at a sink in a public washroom, holding your hands under an automatic tap that won’t turn on? You try going closer to the faucet, further from the faucet, waving your hands in front of the sensor and under neighbouring taps—to no avail. Maybe someone a few taps down is washing her hands successfully as if there’s nothing to it. A lot of early motherhood can feel like that.

But then sometimes someone appears at your shoulder and holds her hand under your tap in exactly the right place in a non-smug, it’s not you, these taps are impossible kind of way. We want this book to be that person. Because those taps are not always automatic, and neither is motherhood. There are many sweet spots, but we need to help each other find them.

No two experiences of motherhood are alike, and certainly Christine’s and mine have been very different. But she was in many ways that person for me.

The idea for this book came about over text messages around dinnertime. Christine had just told me that Spanish Tortilla (page 208) is “great mom food,” by which she meant simple, delicious, inexpensive, one-handable and easily gummed by curious onlookers. An idea lodged itself in my brain and caused me to burn myself while browning zucchini.

“What about a collection of recipes, plus essays about what it’s really like?” I asked, attaching an image of my singed wrist.

“I think you might be half-serious, and I am too,” Christine replied.

Later that same night, as we sent recipe and essay ideas back and forth until 2AM, she supplied a title, in homage to M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf, which is also about living and eating well under difficult circumstances: How to Eat with One Hand.


[E] With this book, we hope to offer a path to meaningful nourishment as well as adult company and reassurance that the baby will, eventually, fall asleep so you can eat your darned sandwich.

The way we’ve organized the recipes is somewhat atypical: instead of meal occasion or time of day, they’re classified by phase of motherhood. In the first chapter, Cravings, there are recipes that fit the unique food needs of pregnancy—but are equally delicious for the non-pregnant among us. The second chapter, The Big Chill, is made up of recipes to batch cook and stockpile in your freezer while you still can. The third chapter, One Hand, One Love, is filled with nutritious things to devour in your PJs during the ravenous first few months postpartum. The fourth, A Full Plate, is dedicated to comforting family meals beloved by adults and young eaters alike that will help make the transition from baby to toddler less stressful and more delicious for all involved. In the fifth chapter, Home Economics, we’ve shared the DIYs that have kept us (mostly) afloat through the whitewater rapids of new parenthood.

We hope this won’t stop you from making any of these recipes whenever you please. The phases addressed in our chapters are fleeting (too fleeting, as strangers might feel the need to remind you, peering first into your stroller and then into your soul), but if we’ve done our job well, these recipes should go on being useful well beyond the finish line of “early” parenthood, wherever that is located.

In between recipes, we’ve included first-person essays written from within the various phases of early motherhood. With these essays, we’ve tried to capture a period of rapid change and intense emotion that’s impossible to imagine beforehand and difficult to conjure in any detail after the fact. Our wild wish is that even one reader might, at some point in these pages, laugh darkly and know she’s not alone.


[C] Cooking is a science, but it’s not an exact science. In writing this book, Emma and I tried as best we could to use vegetables as units (1 carrot versus ½ cup/125 mL carrot) because it makes shopping easier, and there is nothing more annoying than having to wrap up three-quarters of a yellow onion and put it back in the fridge. If your onions or potatoes or what have you are a bit bigger or a bit smaller than ours, none of these recipes will look dramatically different.

The recipes will look dramatically different if you don’t follow the instructions, however. Working in restaurants for twenty years, I’ve noticed that most mistakes happen when people read the ingredients list and not the actual recipe. So, go ahead and read the recipe before you start. Then read it again and visualize each step. I know, I know, I sound a bit woo-woo here, but I’m not advising you to do this just so you can cook mindfully and with intent (though that is nice), but also so that you are more likely to have everything you need (including equipment!) and less likely to make a mistake—which often slows you down a lot more than scanning a recipe once or twice before you crack on.

In terms of substitutions and tweaks, go for it. Things like garnishes can often simply be removed (Don’t like cilantro on your Chilaquiles, page 179? Just leave it off!), and we would never tell you not to add hot sauce or some wilted greens to a recipe that might benefit (Mulligatawny, page 192! Red Flannel Hash, page 119!). For larger modifications that fundamentally change the recipe, again, we say go for it but with the caveat that you try it our way first, so you know the techniques and flavour profile you’re aiming for.

We want you to use this book. We want you to scribble notes in the margins and dog-ear pages with recipes that look delicious or comforting or useful to you. We want you to cook for yourself and ask other people to cook for you using this book, because you deserve delicious, thoughtful food all the time—but right now, especially. We’ve given you a list of what might not be considered classics, but they are our classics. We hope these recipes will make it into regular rotation (with a bit of your own flair) in your home as well.



[C] I was twenty-one years old the first time my grandmother told me she loved me. We were leaving a holiday dinner, and she was trying to put her hand through a buttonhole in her coat. Earlier, she’d tried to eat a scoop of chocolate gelato with those same gnarled but manicured fingers. As I was helping her, guiding her bird-like arm gently into the sleeve, she looked at me, her eyes cleared and she said with force, “I love you, Christine.” And then again, whimpering, “I really love you.”

When her diagnosis came in, I was a teenager. I didn’t know what Alzheimer’s was. I didn’t know how much it would take from us. I didn’t know how much it would give. It’s a gut punch of a disease, but the fist that punches lingers. It tears everything out, showing it to you as it’s tossed away, until there is nothing left but emptiness.

My grandmother never got to see me grow up. She only knew me as the person with the problem, never as the person with the solution. And still, she loved me, quietly and with composure, until the disease took away her inhibitions and her Catholic sensibilities and she could be honest with me. Then she was gone, and all I had left was her pencil box and a handwritten book of recipes.

That composure, that inability to talk about feelings—it’s in me, too. As I smoothed Grandma’s coat over her shoulders that night, and then gripped her hand to help her down the stairs, I could only mumble something back that wasn’t equal to what she had given me.

For me, words are hard. A cake is easy. In the extremes of happiness or grief, I am always worried about saying the wrong thing, of not being able to express myself correctly. But a casserole never says the wrong thing. A loaf of bread can fill a silence in the exact right way.

Today, Piper held up a fat fistful of crackers. Spewing Wheat Thin crumbs onto my leg, she announced, “For you, Mama!” and I thought, Oh, you are so my child. I took a nibble, enjoying the offering and the moment, and then apropos of nothing, she said to me, “I love you, Mama. I really love you.”

It’s a beautiful thing, the way food and love intertwine. How one picks up where the other leaves off. When you are young, it’s an obvious and immediate transaction. When you are older, it’s a gift to be able to conjure someone who has left you to the table, with a pasta salad or a platter of ginger cake, and it’s as if they are right there, eyes twinkling, dry martini clinking.

I cook for my kids because I love them. That’s the best piece of me I can give. The thought, the time, the love. Sometimes they eat it, sometimes they whip it at the wall and declare it “Gross!” And in those moments, I’m getting better with my words. I love you, Piper. I love you, Matilda. I love you, Grandma. I made this for you.

Editorial Reviews

"When it comes to cooking at home, simplicity is key, and that's true for new parents more than anyone. How to Eat with One Hand is bursting with a wide range of flavours that will nourish parents—and their families—at every stage. Loved this stylish book of standout recipes!"
Lynn Crawford, bestselling author of Farm to Chef

"If you're a parent and you're tired or hungry—or both (we've all been there)—and need someone in your corner, you'll find two great allies in this book. How to Eat with One Hand by Christine Flynn and Emma Knight is filled with simple recipes that you can cook for yourself and your family. Incredibly nourishing and all-around feel-good food. We all need help sometimes, and this book will be right by your side when you need it most."
Eden Grinshpan, host of Top Chef Canada and bestselling author of Eating Out Loud

"A stellar collection of recipes that are, simply put, food for the soul. They are vibrant, fun, and most importantly, they won't take hours to put together. With recipes ranging from comforting family meals and snacks to dishes you can freeze for a busy day, How to Eat with One Hand, is a gorgeous gem of a cookbook that's bound to become one of your favourites."
Diala Canelo, author of Diala’s Kitchen

"This cookbook is a culinary victory, straight out of the trenches of early motherhood, with simple delicious recipes and honest heartwarming storytelling. It provides the kind of comfort and nourishment that every new mom needs and deserves."
Nikita Stanley, co-founder of The Rebel Mama and bestselling co-author of The Rebel Mama's Handbook for (Cool) Moms

"A delightful and fresh new cookbook with easy-to-follow recipes and delicious artwork. The essays throughout the book are hilarious, honest and inspiring."
—Connie DeSousa, Top Chef Canada finalist and co-owner and co-executive chef of Char Restaurant Group

"New parents, you're not alone: two Toronto chefs created the ultimate cookbook with you (and your little ones) in mind. . . . [How to Eat with One Hand] contains recipes for all stages of new parenthood, from pregnancy and its various cravings (biscuits and gravy! cacio e pepe! chocolate sheet cake with sour-cream frosting!) to making delicious meals for picky little ones. The recipes are especially good for busy parents. . . . The book also has some fun DIY project ideas like make-at-home playdough and bath bombs to help keep kids busy."
Toronto Star

Other titles by Christine Flynn

Other titles by Emma Knight