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Tamra Davis

My friend Tamra Davis and I have so much in common, it’s ridiculous. We are both mothers of two small children, in the film business, are passionate amateur cooks, have an obsession with Vegenaise, and have a similar food ethos. Like most of us ladies out there, we are also attempting to balance it all. Tamra is a great cook, and after she had children, she became concerned with her family eating well and being healthy. She started developing family-based recipes and then she started sharing them with her friends. She has written an AMAZING self-published, purse-sized cookbook that is easy to bring with you to the market. She also does an online cooking show that I have gotten very into. It shows her cooking easy, delicious recipes to feed the whole family (including the Beastie Boys and their kids). My faves are the combo meals (another idea we have in common), where she makes something great for the kids and at the end tweaks it with some more sophisticated flavors for the adults. It’s really brilliant. I asked Tamra to share a bit of her philosophy and some of her recipes. She is an inspiration to me and she rocks.

Love, gp

Questions & Answers

Q

As a successful film and TV director (Billy Madison, Grey’s Anatomy), when and how did you start to get interested in food? Was it something you always loved, or more so since having children?

A

I’ve always loved cooking and especially eating, but having kids is such a lifestyle changer. I found out how important it is to not only feed my kids healthy food but I realized I needed to eat well too. A mom can’t afford to get sick. It was also much easier to invite friends over for dinner than to go out. Dining out with kids can be great or it can go terribly wrong.

Because I was home so much with the kids, I found myself watching reality TV and the Food Network. It was challenging to find a host of a cooking show who was cooking food that I wanted to make for my family: healthy, organic, mostly vegetarian and easy. So what started out as an experiment in what happens when a filmmaker who is a mom winds up in a kitchen, ended with me making my own little reality cooking shows. No crew, just a camera, my life and a good recipe. A recipe has the structure and pacing of a perfect short film. It has a beginning (you shop or plan), a middle (you cook) and an end (you eat!).


Q

How did you start to develop your recipes? What were the restrictions/guidelines that you or your loved ones imposed?

A

If I ate all the food I wanted to, I would be huge. For myself, I’m looking at how a recipe is written or a restaurant meal is prepared. Since I care about the size of my butt, I began by looking at ways to eliminate fat. I also don’t eat chicken or meat, so I had to get creative in coming up with recipes that have substantial protein without using them. My husband is lactose intolerant and my kids are vegetarian, but sometimes my older son Davis eats fish. So just in my own household there was a lot to consider. Then when you start to cook for friends or bake sales or potluck dinners, you realize so many people have eating concerns. I found it challenging and also rewarding to come up with recipes that tasted amazing and that my loved ones and friends could eat and enjoy.


Q

You are an incredibly talented artist and an amazing mother of two young boys. How do you find time to cook and why is it so important to you?

A

I always prided myself on how efficient I am as a director, especially in television. It’s a whole different thing walking on to a set and telling 60 people what to do and then going home and patiently trying to get my toddler to eat his vegetables. In both situations you have to be creative and passionate about what you do. I tried to show in my cooking webisodes how I arrange my busy days to make certain recipes. Sometimes when I’m making a recipe, one of the steps is to do a quick part in the morning and that cuts down on the prep time at dinner. I also find that if I want to spend time with my kids when I’m not working, cooking with them is super fun. Even if they are not helping me in the kitchen but see me cook, they feel I’m there for them.

I really hope to inspire women with my recipes and show that it’s easy, fun, and rewarding to cook for your family. When half of all meals eaten by Americans take place outside of the home and about one in every five children are obese I feel there is a great need to get people back in the kitchen cooking healthy and delicious food. I also think with the current economy more people will find that cooking at home can save them money. I hope my recipes inspire these people!

Recipes:

Tamra generously gave us a few recipes from her new cookbook, Make Me Something Good to Eat. They are delicious meals everyone can enjoy!

Seitan a.k.a. “Dinosaur Meat”

Seitan a.k.a. “Dinosaur Meat”

Seitan is an amazing meat substitute. We use it all the time. It has a very similar texture and it even looks like meat. It really is a good substitute to use on someone who is used to and likes to eat meat at meals. I like it because it is a great source of protein for my kids and they always eat it. Don’t take this Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce for granted. It’s really good. I ate the original version of this at Candle 79 in New York City. It was amazing. They have a great cookbook called The Candle Café Cookbook. Basically, I just do a quicker version of theirs. It’s almost impossible for this not to taste great.

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Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce

Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce

Seitan is an amazing meat substitute. We use it all the time. It has a very similar texture and it even looks like meat. It really is a good substitute to use on someone who is used to and likes to eat meat at meals. I like it because it is a great source of protein for my kids and they always eat it. Don’t take this Seitan with Lemon Caper Sauce for granted. It’s really good. I ate the original version of this at Candle 79 in New York City. It was amazing. They have a great cookbook called The Candle Café Cookbook. Basically, I just do a quicker version of theirs. It’s almost impossible for this not to taste great.

Get Recipe

Grilled Fish With Pesto Sauce

Grilled Fish With Pesto Sauce

Pesto is a great standard. It’s simple to make and always tastes good. The color is so fantastic I can usually connect it with some cartoon character and the kids will eat it. Sometimes it’s Shrek Pasta, the other night it was Green Lantern Spaghetti. You could also call it The Little Mermaid Spaghetti. I make up names for their food all the time to help make it more familiar. I made this in Kauai—I served the kids a pesto pasta and added grilled fish for the adults. It was delicious. Oh, and I topped it with pine nuts and a bit of parmesan. Obviously, you can also serve fish to your kids too!

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Shrek Pasta

Shrek Pasta

Pesto is a great standard. It’s simple to make and always tastes good. The color is so fantastic I can usually connect it with some cartoon character and the kids will eat it. Sometimes it’s Shrek Pasta, the other night it was Green Lantern Spaghetti. You could also call it The Little Mermaid Spaghetti. I make up names for their food all the time to help make it more familiar. I made this in Kauai—I served the kids a pesto pasta and added grilled fish for the adults. It was delicious. Oh, and I topped it with pine nuts and a bit of parmesan. Obviously, you can also serve fish to your kids too!

Get Recipe

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

This is a super simple cake to make especially around apple season. In New York we get amazing apples. We went to an apple-picking farm right outside of the city with the boys. It was great fun and we got a ton of apples. If you can take your kids to a farm (where they can pick their own fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk…anything) and show them where their food comes from; it can be a great experience. This cake is also good in the morning with a cup of coffee or when you’re hosting a brunch.

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