A Q&A With Martha Stewart: Her New Book, What She Thinks of Gourmet, And Cooking to Ludacris
Martha Stewart is coming to town this Monday to sign copies of her new book, Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home: 52 Quick Meals to Cook for Family & Friends. For all of you keeping track, this is Martha's 67th cookbook. We spoke with her yesterday by phone in her New York offices, catching her momentarily between taping her show, blogging, tweeting and, generally, empire-ing. She'll be at the Sur La Table at the Grove next Monday at 5 p.m. to sign copies of her new book. And if you're in Carlsbad this Sunday at 3 p.m., she'll be signing books at the Carlsbad Costco.
We did not ask Martha how she keeps up this pace; nor did we ask her about doing time. We are far too polite for that. We did, however, ask her about what it's like to publish in this economy, about the demise of Gourmet, and about all that rap she listens to while she cooks. And, of course, we asked her for a recipe. Q&A after the jump.
MS: Take what you learn and cook, on a daily basis, delicious food that is really as good as most restaurants in an hour or less. We're pressed for time, and I wanted to do a book that's filled with 52 menus that takes out the guesswork of what goes with what. An hour an ten minutes is the longest they take; and that's for the whole menu.
SI: Has publishing a cookbook this year been any different than publishing a book in past years, given the state of the economy?
MS: Well, not really for us, because we're not about opening cans and boxes and taking the giant short cuts that so many books these days are taking. We want to come up with original recipes that are well-designed and that end up with really good results. Our books are more substantial than most; this one has over 200 recipes. We stress sustainability, shopping well, shopping cleanly.
SI: Given the amount of perspective that you have, and given the number of cookbooks you've published, do you think that people are cooking differently now?
MS: I think they want to cook. And I think they want to cook at home. And I think they want to cook fresh. And I think they want to cook healthy.
SI: Do you agree with Michael Pollan that people are abandoning the kitchen for their televisions?
MS: For the Food Network? Not the people that buy our books. They're not buying them and putting them on their shelves; they're actually cooking from them. Not the over 1 million subscribers to our Everyday Food magazine. They are cooking from that magazine. They are cooking. I don't like to criticize people; I'd rather encourage them.
SI: What do you think about the recent demise of Gourmet?
MS: I'm sad. I'm sad. I don't think that they didn't know their readers. I think that they didn't evolve; they just didn't change as much as they should have over the last two years. They stuck to that wonderful formula of travel and unusual places, and their recipes were good, and they were pretty and the results were always nice. My daughter was a big fan; I was a big fan. We're sad that it's gone. And they kept Bon Appétit, which is a magazine that I don't read.
SI: You have a blog; what do you think of food blogging?
MS: Well, again, I think people are going to realize that they really have a limited amount of time. And they're not going to be blogging as vehemently as they have been blogging, not be twittering and tweeting as much as they have been. Just because who is going to have the time to read it? I have The Martha Blog, and it's a good blog and it's well read. It's not The Huffington Post, but it isn't that kind of thing. I'm happy with the 200, 300 page views a day. Oh, 200, 300 thousand page views a day. That's how many we're getting.
SI: And you're on Twitter?
MS: Oh, yeah, Twitter is so much fun. We tweet recipes; we tweet questions looking for answers. Right now we have a little thing going where you ask me a question that I answer on TV and you get the new book. Today I answered some interesting questions. Where did the phrase 'make it from scratch' come from? And today we had a question about dunking for apples; what's that all about. There's very interesting answers to those things. Do you know? Do you know the answer to 'from scratch'? It started with horse racing. The scratch in the sand at the starting line, and all horses were treated equally. They all took off at the same time, there was no handicap. And now it means using everything that's at hand.
SI: So, I hear Snoop's a big fan of yours?
MS: Oh, yeah. We converse by email. Does he cook? Not really. He's a homemaker. We just chat about different things.
SI: And you like Ludacris a lot; do you cook to his music?
MS: Oh, yes. We play a lot of his music and Snoop's music, Diddy's music, and Eminem on our breaks on the TV shows. It's all rap.
Martha's recipe for duck with fig jam, from the new book, will be up later today.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.