A Visit to the Kitchen of Legendary Cookbook Editor Judith Jones
The acclaimed editor and author, Judith Jones, prepares a recipe for pork and ham croquettes from her new book, âLove Me, Feed Me.”
NEXT TIME YOUâRE feeling uninspired or too lazy to cook, think of Judith Jones, the book editor who introduced the world to Julia Child as well as food legends James Beard, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis and Madhur Jaffrey. Her legacy also includes three books co-authored with her late husband, Evan Jones, and three of her own. At 90 years old, she continues to make supper nearly every night, and to eat it at a table beside a wall of hanging pots in her kitchen on New York Cityâs Upper East Side. âItâs sort of indecent,â she said, âbecause sometimes, I begin to think around 4 oâclock, âHm, is it almost time to start cooking?â â These days, she cooks mostly for herself and her Havanese dog, Mabon. To help others do the same, she wrote âLove Me, Feed Me: Sharing With Your Dog the Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy,â published last month by Knopf. Even those without canine companions are sure to find Ms. Jonesâs simple recipesâand her delight in sharing themâhighly motivating.
The thing that most people notice first about my kitchen is: all these hanging pots. I think hiding all your wonderful pots and pans is an expression of my motherâs generation, when a kitchen was just utilitarian; nobody had fun in there.
The tools I canât live without are: a wooden spatula and a wooden fork. Wood doesnât scrape the bottom of your pans so much. Itâs gentle.
The cookbook I turn to again and again is: âMastering the Art of French Cooking.â [Julia Childâs] wonderfully analytic way of expressing what is special about French cookingâand how to translate it to the American kitchenâwas thrilling. I still go back when Iâm sort of refreshing myself: âWell, what did Julia say about that?â
The pot I reach for most is: the smallest size Le Creuset [enameled cast-iron] saucepan. I have it in copper, too. Thatâs just great for Mabon and me. Itâs sometimes the pots that make you a better cook, so people should get pots that are pure and efficient and well-made. Good ones last a lifetime.
At this time of year, my favorite thing to eat is: root vegetables. Growing up, most of the winter we had turnips and parsnips. I remember when the first asparagus would appear in the spring, I would just cry with delight! I think thatâs rather good for your palate, to hold back for when a vegetable is really ready.
I first became interested in food: when I went abroad with my husband. My awakening was clearly in France. I tell the story, in this new book, of [chef-restaurateur] Fernand Point having us in for a lunch. He didnât know who we were; we were just scruffy Americans. But that was a great experienceâa turning point, in a way, in my life. And then I had a Hungarian sister-in-law, and she introduced me to Hungarian food. She was born a countess and then she met Mr. Jones, my husbandâs brother. From countess to Jones, what a tumble.
I donât like it when my dinner guests: bring something. I think weâre doing too much of that. It ruins the dinner. You plan a beautifully balanced meal, and then in comes a cupcake and people feel they have to taste it and ooh and aah, and it has nothing to do with your dinner. A bottle of wine is nice and helpful, and sometimes some cheese.
I like to drink: Campari. It just cleanses me somehow and gets me ready for dinner. Itâs actually better, I think, than a glass of wine on an empty stomach. But once weâre into the food, Iâm a good wine drinker.
A typical breakfast for me is: my own granola with Vermont maple syrup. And I have some blueberries and bananas. If Iâm in Paris, itâs a croissant and cafĂ© au lait, with the lait, you know, warm and almost bubbling on the top. I love breakfast. And then I love lunch.
On weeknights, I often cook: some wonderful pork tenderloins. Usually what I end up doing is making a roast with vegetables around. Itâs so simple. And then I have some left for a quick stir-fry with vegetables the next night. Or a little hash. I love hashes: You open your fridge and you see whatâs in there, so theyâre always a little bit different.
One of the most underrated foods is: again, root vegetables. Itâs interesting to use them in different waysânot just as a separate vegetable, but, say, in a ravioli. Theyâre new tastes, and yet familiar. I think if you reach too hard for the new, itâs a mistake.
A food trend Iâm totally over is: kale. I was trying new green vegetables on my dog, Mabon. So, with all this talk that you could hardly survive without eating kale three times a day, I decided to try a little bit. I stir-fried it and put three little clumps in his dish. And he sniffed each clump, picked each one up and put it over there, and there, and thereâand walked away. I was proud of him. Good boy!
âEdited from an interview by Charlotte Druckman