Meet Laura Wright, the cooking genius behind natural food blog The First Mess. This Niagara native claims to have “an embarrassing collection of cookbooks and food-related literature,” attended culinary school, and has created an impressive stockpile of her own recipes. Visit her index to find a dish that will make your mouth water, and read on to find out why these meals are always guaranteed to be a success!
Q: Where does your recipe inspiration come from?
A: I mostly find inspiration in the life cycle of each season – it’s always an attempt to really enjoy whatever produce is flourishing at the moment. I also create recipes that are in tune with what my body is craving, which relates to all of the things going on in my life, too.
Q: How do you decide what ingredients to start with when you’re creating a new recipe?
A: It’s a combination of influences. Sometimes I’m taking a very classic recipe that might be animal-product heavy and aiming to make a healthy vegan version. This means that I’m going down the list of flavour profiles that make up for the lack of meat (like olives, smoked paprika, tamari soy sauce, capers, etc.) or I’m considering ingredients that perform the same function as eggs or dairy. The season always dictates the initial ingredient selection, though – I’ll never use tomatoes or peaches in January. By the same token, I won’t be cranking up my oven to roast root vegetables in the summer either.
Q: Where do you like to shop for ingredients?
A: My dad runs a great farm market and local foods shop in town, so I’m always there getting my pick of the seasonal goods. I grow a lot of my own vegetables in my backyard in the warm months, and I love a trip to the farmer’s market. I manage to get a lot of specialty, whole-grain flours at bulk stores and I do get some of the items that I use frequently at Costco — like brown rice, almond butter, frozen fruit, and coconut oil.
Q: What do you love most about cooking?
A: I love that cooking is all about connection. If I source locally farmed vegetables, I get to put those efforts from a specific time of the year on the plate. That practice nourishes my body and allows me to enjoy a meal with someone I love and care for. I think the notion of fine living is rooted in that greater connection.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about cooking?
A: I find the trials of baking to be a bit challenging. The disappointments are felt so much harder because the anticipation is pretty ramped up with things like cake and cookies.
Q: What do you think is the number-one thing about your recipes that makes people love them so much?
A: For the most part, my recipes are really simple, delicious, and look pretty on the plate. To me, the wholesome nature of them is almost like an added bonus. The recipes are easy enough for busy weeknights, but vibrant and interesting enough to serve to guests as well.
Q: Do you have a favourite recipe on your blog?
A: My chocolate hazelnut torte with date caramel and coconut cream. Indulgent, celebratory, and actually super wholesome.
Q: Why do you enjoy cooking?
A: I find cooking really relaxing for the most part – I like the sounds of a sizzling pan or a knife hitting a wooden chopping board.
Q: What do you love about eating healthy food?
I just enjoy feeling really energetic and vibrant all the time. I keep the recollection of that feeling in mind every time I go to prepare something. It helps to align the food choices with my overall intentions.
Q: What’s the best piece of cooking advice you’ve ever received?
A: It’s just food! I always remember that when I’m starting to stress about a recipe that just doesn’t seem to click or an important dinner I’m planning. Just to have access to good food is a privilege, and letting any frustration over it control you is just unnecessary.
Q: What are your top cooking tips for someone hosting a dinner party using your recipes?
Don’t stress, and make a prep list of everything you have to do a couple days before. Having a game plan in mind is half the battle.