Bad Manners

I have an awful lot of privilege. I know this. I’m a white woman living in suburban New Jersey with her family. Mid-thirties, house, yard, and even no job losses in our house in the middle of a pandemic. I consider myself “woke” in so many ways, yet I keep finding ways that my privilege shapes how I view the world.

One of these is the cookbook formerly known as Thug Kitchen. It wasn’t until the recent discourse surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement that it even occurred to me that “Thug” was a racial slur. It flitted in and out of my head with no real lasting consideration. I typically call the cookbooks my “sweary cookbooks” and I’ve loved their gimmick from the first time I saw them. Delicious, healthy vegan recipes that taste like comfort food, with recipes peppered with colorful language in ways that I, born and raised in the Garden State, found hilarious.

However, the creators of the cookbooks, who are two white people around my age from LA, have been (rightfully, when I think about it) called to task about their use of the word “thug.” They’ve been shifting their brand to “Bad Manners Kitchen” these days. Many activists in the online cooking community are justifiably angry that it took them so long to shift, or that they even dared to do this in the first place. There’s a lot of suspicion and anger around the fact that the authors kept their identities secret in the first place, maybe proving that they knew what they were doing wasn’t right. Many have called for “canceling” them over all of it.

I’m sticking with the recipes. I’m tentatively supporting their switch. I’m also acknowledging that I’m doing this from a privileged space and am not the authority on what is right. The recipes are still delicious and healthy. These cookbooks have been instrumental in making my cooking “grow up.” I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way to handle a situation like this, but I wanted to be clear about all of this before posting recipes from this source. They’re particularly a summertime staple for me, so it was a concern.

I choose to believe we’re all growing and learning how to be more respectful.

Bad Manners can now be found here.

Their statement on the name change can be found here.

The CSA Cookbook

OK, so it’s been quite clear so far in my blogging journey that Thug Kitchen is my favorite cookbook, and quite frankly, my default place to turn when I’m not sure what to do with my vegetables. Now we’ll get our first (of hopefully many) chance to see that I do, in fact, have some variety and range in my sources.

Linda Ly’s cookbook couldn’t have a more straightforward name if it tried – The CSA Cookbook. Subtitled: No-waste recipes for cooking your way through a community supported agriculture box, farmers’ market, or backyard bounty.

Well, then. Amazon impulse purchase back in the spring? Yes, ma’am!

I’ve only scraped the surface of what Ms. Ly shares in this book, but what has impressed me so far is how truly she does provide ways to use what would otherwise be waste, and today I’m focusing on herbs.

No matter how vigilant you are, at some point in the season, you can pretty much guarantee your basil plant is going to “bolt.” It’ll send up flowers that, while pretty and apparently a huge favorite of the bees that hang out in my yard, are kind of awkward to do anything with. When I snap them off, I historically have just used them to stuff a chicken, or added them to my stock bag.

Then I discovered Ms. Ly’s recipe for infused vinegar. My first batch is still steeping – it takes 2 weeks, minimum – but I’m optimistic for it! The vinegar (in my case, white vinegar, though she suggested that one might try champagne vinegar to be fancy – perhaps a future batch. steeps with the basil flowers and orange peel.

We’re already big fans in this household of another of her steeping suggestions: feta cheese with herbs. She gives instructions for using up all the ends of the bundles of herbs that you have sitting in your freezer. Some of her suggestions end up as salad dressings, but this has become a favorite appetizer in our house. My current batch is steeping with garlic chives from the share this week.

Long story short, if you find yourself at a loss for how to handle odds and ends of your share, and you want a cookbook that shepherds you through making the most of the season, this cookbook is right for you. There’s definite truth in advertising with her title.

Thug Kitchen

Hang around here long enough, and you may get sick of hearing about the one subject that dominates my conversations almost as much as CSA: Thug Kitchen.

Thug Kitchen is a series of cookbooks, blog, twitter account, etc. The authors live in LA and declare that their mission is to make eating healthy – and, specifically, vegan – accessible, affordable, easy, and delicious. They do this stunningly well, over and over and over again. I have two out of their three cookbooks, make meals from them regularly, and never have encountered a recipe that I’ve disliked. If you want healthy comfort food, Thug Kitchen is for you.

The one caveat is that you must not be offended by swearing. Their gimmick, from which the “Thug” in their name comes, is that all of the recipes are written in street-sounding language. There are a lot of f-bombs. Being from northeastern New Jersey (think Sopranos – it was shot nearby), I find this hilarious and endearing.

Below are some visuals for why this cookbook is worth every penny. Please, try not to drool on the keyboard.

Eggplant with Soba Noodles


Blueberry Buckle
Red Lentil Burger

This is not the last you’ll see of Thug recipes coming from my kitchen. Yum.