This week, we’re chatting with Sarah about where she finds the inspiration for her delicious, yet simple recipes.

Cooking can be intimidating for some people.  Do you have any tips for people who are just starting out?
It definitely can be! That’s why I always tell people to start small. Learn to bring water to a boil. Once you do that, you can learn to make pasta. It’s simple! Just add dried pasta to boiling water and boil for the amount of time indicated on the package. Then drain it in a colander. Once you’ve mastered that, try making scrambled eggs. Whisk together an egg with a tablespoon or two of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then pour it into a skillet warmed over medium-low heat that has a little butter melted in it. Cook the eggs, stirring with a rubber spatula, until they are solid. Then you’ve done it. These little skills put together add up to being able to cook for yourself. And once you know how to boil water, you can make the recipes in my One-Pot Pasta Cookbook since you know what boiling will look like.

What is your favorite dish to cook and why?
I LOVE making rice bowls. Fluffy white rice topped with raw and sauteed or roasted vegetables and a protein like steak, salmon, shrimp or a poached egg. Perhaps some pickled veggies. Maybe some hot sauce. There are so many ways you can vary the dish by mixing up the types of veggies or proteins or even different varieties of hot sauce (I love sriracha most for this, but sometimes Thirty Acre Farm’s Earth Fire hot sauce really hits the spot).

Where do you go for inspiration?
I have an extensive cookbook college with volumes dating back to the 1800s. I love, love, love vintage cookbooks and sometimes turn to them for ideas. When it comes to writing recipes for my blog and cookbooks, I consider those classic techniques but also draw on raw ingredients, good flavor combinations I have had in restaurants and my childhood. I am a big fan of cooking seasonally, so when I pick up a couple summer squashes at the farmers market, I try to think of ways to cook them differently — stuffing them with different combinations of meat, veggies, maybe cheese, for instance, or flavoring them with different herbs and spices before grilling or sauteing. I also try to work through ways to make dishes easily with accessible ingredients.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love the planning process when I’m deciding, for instance, what recipes will go into a book or what techniques will be explained. I also really love the revisions process, where I’ve written the recipes, the techniques, the introduction and get to go through and mold my words into something useful, helpful and intriguing. My favorite part, though, might be that moment when I get to hit “send” on a manuscript. There’s so many emotions that come with it — but the biggest is relief. It’s done. It’s ready for an editor to help me bring it to the polished form you see in print.

Do you have another cookbook in the works?  
Sort of! I’ve just submitted the manuscript for my next book. The working title is “Classic Diners of Maine,” and it’s due out this summer from Arcadia Press. It’s part guidebook, part history and has recipes for making diner food at home in it too.