Leanne Brown is Starting a Newsletter!
And Here it is
Welcome to My Newsletter!
It’s the first day of the rest of our lives! And here marks the beginning of a new relationship: I am launching a newsletter today and this is it. You can expect to hear from me monthly with intermittent updates for important announcements. Each newsletter will include personal essays, a seasonal recipe and links to work and art and anything I am reading I think you will love. Are you in? I hope so.
If it's not too grandiose a sentiment, I might say that this newsletter feels like a re-birth. Because it does. I hope you are ready to come along on this adventure, because I want you to comment, email, share, and make this space your own.
You likely know me from my cookbooks, the bestselling Good and Cheap, a book for those on the tightest budgets, or my newest work, Good Enough, which offers a pathway to peace in the kitchen.
This career has been a strange one. Before I wrote Good and Cheap for my master’s thesis in Food Studies at NYU, I thought I would always be working for someone else. And I craved that security. But my heart also rebelled. I wanted to be heard.
With Good and Cheap, I wrote what I knew. I wrote it into existence because I longed to give, and the giving felt so good. So many of you met me there, with support and encouragement. While I am so proud of that book, I am no financial whiz--I am simply a confident home cook with a slightly above-average affinity for basic math. As Good and Cheap made its way into different communities and spaces, I began to notice that many people’s expectations of me were not a match for what I wanted to offer. For years I tried to fit myself into those expectations, thinking that it was the way to build a career that I was in charge of.
But eventually I realized that just doesn’t work. To have a career, or a life, is to take full responsibility for your own choices. To show up as yourself.
So I wrote Good Enough, because again, I had it in me. And also to open myself more fully. To show my tender parts that are a lot less certain and sure than the voice from Good and Cheap. It’s all me. It’s all true.
The simple message: We all deserve to eat well.
Juxtaposed with: the complexity of what that looks like in our unjust and limited world.
The simple message: We can only feed ourselves as well as we love ourselves.
Juxtaposed with: the complexity of how confusing and individual that journey must be.
I care about all these things and will continue to explore them here.
You deserve to eat well; you deserve to feel peace in your body as you cook and care for yourself. If you don’t yet feel like you are there, take my hand and let’s go together.
Later this month I will be launching a Cooking Club on Patreon. It will be just $5/month and consist of a weekly livestreamed cooking class of approximately an hour. You will receive the recipe in advance so you can prepare. If you miss the livestream, you will get the video afterwards to experience at a time that works for you.
These will be different cooking classes than you have seen before. I am calling them Embodied Cooking Classes for Building Self-Compassion. For comparison, think of a yoga class in cooking form. We will breathe and ground, set intentions, tune into our senses, receive instruction, and make space for our authentic experience. Then finally we will connect to gratitude and eat!
Learn to cook this way and you won’t be unhappy with the food, even when it doesn’t turn out, because something good can always be found in the process of cooking. I am positive that good things will come with this practice. Please come join me!
Double Pea Pasta with Cashew Butter and Chili Crisp
Serves 2 to 3
TL;DR: Boil the pasta. Sauté the peas in a pan. Toss pasta with a cup of pasta water, peas and the rest of the ingredients. Taste, adjust.
½ pound cavatelli or other smaller pasta shape
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup green peas (frozen, fresh, or canned)
¾ cup snap peas, chopped and trimmed if desired
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1 to 2 tablespoons Spicy Chili Crisp (*see note)
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package instructions for al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, scoop out a cup of pasta water, and drain the rest. Set the pasta aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour the peas and snap peas into the pan and use a spatula to coat them in oil and move them around a bit, cooking until they turn a brighter green, about 2 minutes. Add about a half-teaspoon of the salt.
Pour in the pasta, about half of the pasta water, the cashew butter, and 1 tablespoon of the Spicy Chili Crisp. Turn the heat to medium low and stir, adding more pasta water to loosen things up, as needed, to create a sauce. Taste and add more salt, pepper or chili crisp as needed. Finally, squeeze the juice of one lime all over, taste a final time, and adjust with anything you think it needs.
Serve as is or with a bit more chili crisp on top.
NOTE: Spicy Chili Crisp can be found in most Asian grocery stores, online or potentially at your local supermarket. It is distinct from Chili sauce and is a crunchy, salty, lightly spicy chili oil with a ton of flavor.
Death and Rebirth on a Plane
I recently went back to Canada, mainly to visit my dying father. But also, as it turns out, to sink deeply into my community of chosen family and be held. The experience of being with my Dad as he is in pain and seeing how my family is suffering, combined with opening my heart to the love that is there, was exquisite and painful and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
It was an unexpected experience. I knew I was doing something different than my historical patterns. I usually have been one to come when needed, to show up always, but not necessarily with my own best interests in mind. I was taught that to be good meant putting the needs of others ahead of my own. So I have not known what it feels like to do something hard and painful that is also very much for me. A pain that serves my own longings of how I want to be in this world. I realized that I needed to be with my Dad, not because he or anyone else needed me there for any physical or logistical reason, but because I love him and simply want to witness and be open to love that is there while it’s still here. This was new.
I feel like I crawled into a chrysalis full of worries and fear and a lifetime’s worth of shame and confusion about how to be this person that I am. And now I am crawling out, stretching wings trying to understand this wholly new body, mind, and heart. Recalibrating. Some days it feels incredible, and other days it feels so hard and strange.
On the flight back I ended up seated next to a man who looked an extraordinary amount like my Dad, if my Dad were a healthy weight and not in constant pain. He wanted to chat and share wildlife pictures (also like my Dad). And as the flight went on and we opened up to each other, I shared the reason for my visit to Canada with him. His response is still echoing around the halls of my mind. I said, “My dad is sick, and he’s not going to get better.” He paused and noted that it’s so hard when you can’t say “they’ll get better soon, I’m sure.” Then he said, “In situations like this, there is no right way, you can only do what you want.”
Your own internal guide is all there is. Because there will always be regrets or ways we could have done things differently if only we had known. But we don’t know. We can’t know. The only way to meet the not knowing is to do what you want. To allow that to be enough.
My Dad may not be able to tell me that himself, but I got to hear it anyway. It was just what I needed. It is grounding me through this phase of necessary recalibration. I come back to that. During times of uncertainty—which I’m starting to think is all of life, if we just open to it—“you can only do what you want.”
Further Reading, if you feel called. I enjoyed this review/personal essay by Abra Kurt about Good Enough. Perhaps you will too: https://www.abrakurt.com/post/leannebrown-goodenough