Minimalist Home Cooking: An Interview with Jules Clancy

by Tammy Strobel on April 15, 2010

For the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing amazing bloggers about minimalism, location independence, financial freedom and more. Every Thursday, a feature interview is posted on RowdyKittens. Last week, I spoke to Chris O’Byrne from Editing Your World and Tiny Simplicity. This week the feature interview is with Jules Clancy from Stone Soup. We talked about location independence, minimalist home cooking and her rockin’ books.

Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out Stone Soup.

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Tammy Strobel: Jules, leaving your day job was a big decision. What prompted you to take the leap and pursue your dreams?

Jules Clancy: The biggest factor was the realisation that if I stopped spending and started living a more minimalist lifestyle that I didn’t need a big corporate salary to live on. It lowered the bar as to how much money I needed which meant the dream of supporting myself through my writing was suddenly within my reach. The other factor was that over the 5 years I have been writing stonesoup I’ve come to know exactly what my passions are. Once you know your calling – it’s hard to keep working on other unimportant things.

3D cover

Tammy: You just finished writing a lovely ebook, called “How to Bake your Family Cookbook“. Can you tell us about the book and what inspired you to write it?

Jules: After I published my mum’s cookbook last year – I got a heap of feedback from people saying that they would love to do something similar for their families. There are so many amazing tools out there these days to help people write their own books I wanted to help more people feel the joy of capturing their family stories and recipes.

Tammy: You also have a print book called, “and the love is free.” Can you also tell us about this book and your motivation behind it?

Jules: I wrote and the love is free last year to celebrate the life of my Mum who died in 2007. I was lucky that my mum was an amazing cook and I saw the book as a way to preserve her memory and keep a record of the food that I had grown up with. I also wanted to share this simple home cooking with people who weren’t so lucky as to have a mum who could teach them the basics of good cooking.

Tammy: What is your definition of minimalist home cooking?

Jules: Minimalist home cooking the focus is on recipes that meet most or all of the following criteria:

1. minimal time
2. minimal number of steps
3. minimal number of ingredients
4. minimal equipment

It’s food that is delicious, visually appealing, mostly wholesome and as natural as possible but sometimes a little decadent – after all even minimalists need their chocolate.

fig tarts cropped-2

Tammy: When did you discover the minimalist movement? And how has minimalism improved the quality of your life?

Jules: I discovered minimalism mid 2009. I can’t tell you how much just starting on the path to minimalism has improved my quality of life. The biggest impact of course has been having the freedom to quit my day job (which was pretty fun – I used to design chocolate biscuits (cookies)). Now my 2 hours a day commute is gone as I am working from home and every day I get to do what I love (which is even more fun). Whether that’s cooking things and taking photographs of them or writing, I’m working on my passions every day rather than watching the clock or sitting through endlessly boring meetings.

Tammy: Reading is an amazing way to discover new perspectives and life changing ideas. What books have made a significant impact on your life and career?

Jules: I hate to say it but The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris had a big impact on me last year which started me searching. Leo Babuta’s The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life was extremely useful in visualising how I could apply minimalism to my life. Passionate Marriage by David Snarch has had a big impact on helping to understand myself and relationships.

In terms of cooking I’ve been heavily influenced by the Australian chef Karen Martini. I love Jamie Oliver and his relaxed attitude to cooking. My latest obsession is Nigel Slater in particular his latest book Tender Volume 1 – A cook and his vegetable patch which not only highlights the best ways to cook different veggies – it teaches you how to grow them – am plotting to be able to have my own vegetable patch one day.

Note: photography by Jules.

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For more interview awesomeness read:

Minimalism is a State of Mind: An Interview with Chris O’Byrne

Danielle LaPorte, “Growing an Empire that Works for You.”

Ashley Ambirge, “Let One Word Guide Your Way: Fun”

How to Live Anywhere: An Interview with Karol Gajda

How to Pursue the Reality You Imagine Yourself Living: Interview with Everett Bogue

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1 Andrew April 15, 2010

@Tammy, Jules–

I’d encourage both of you to have your own vegetable patch today… Lots of people seem to define “patch” as a big deal requiring a lot of time and garden space. Really, just growing a flowerpot of greens (lettuce, spinach) in the spring and fall, a pot of herbs, and one indeterminate tomato plant that will keep producing all summer–those things will make a tremendous difference in your eating and cooking. I have recently become fascinated by the staggering number of types of lettuce and their different attendant flavors. I’ll be doing a blog about that subject in the next week or so at MZ.

& @Jules: I’m working on a family cookbook this summer. Looking forward to reading your how-to book. I think it’ll be a great resource.

Thanks to you both for your great ideas.

2 Tammy April 16, 2010

@Andrew – thanks for the tip. I’ve been thinking about getting into gardening. I don’t have a yard, but we I’m sure there are a number of community gardens in Portland. Plus I could always grow herbs in my window sill. :)

3 Andrew April 16, 2010

I really used to be one of those people who thought there wasn’t really any difference between dried and fresh herbs. Until I grew them fresh and realized what a difference it made to clip a few sprigs of rosemary for (enter here whatever it is you like to roast–potatoes are particularly good), or oregano for sauce, or basil to top a homemade pizza. The flavors are not even close.

And there are thousands of kinds of lettuce that grow well in pots/small spaces. It’s probably too late (even with as cool as Portland stays in the summer) to start them from seed, but you can probably get seedlings somewhere (local nursery or hardware store, probably) to get you started. If you have a porch, patio, or other kind of outdoor walkway/breezeway that gets summer sun, you could think about using that space as well.

Let me know how it goes. I’m excited for you. I’ll email you with a blog link about herbs & herb gardening that I wrote.

4 Chris O'Byrne April 15, 2010

I love the ideas of minimalist cooking (and we’re not talking microwavable mac and cheese, here), so when I found Jules’ blog I was ecstatic. And she didn’t disappoint me. I’ve used several of her recipes or variations on them and have always been happy.

I’d like to emphasize Jules’ photography skills. I know how tough it is to photograph food and she takes spectacular shots.

Thanks for this great interview, Tammy, and introducing another one of my favorite minimalist celebrities. :D

5 Kathy April 15, 2010

“Once you know your calling – it’s hard to keep working on other unimportant things.”
Amen to that.

Also, ditto what Andrew said about the veggie patch. Homegrown food is unbeatable!

6 Suzie April 17, 2010

I absolutely adore thestonesoup – the recipes are all delicious, and I love that they are so simple to make. Beats my old ‘pasta and tomato sauce’ standby everytime!

I also like that Nigel SLater is an influence – I loved his TV series ‘simple suppers’, and he’s a great cook.

I second the vegetable growing. So many things grow well in pots and containers, so even if you only have a balcony or porch you can grow a few bits… and nothing beats using your own fresh ingredients :)

7 Tammy April 19, 2010

@Suzie – Jules is amazing. I’m in love with her blog and all the ideas she presents. It’s helped keep us out of our food rut.

I’m going to get on the garden bandwagon. We don’t have a porch, but I might be able to set up a little planter outside my window. :)

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