‘Girl Meets Farm’ Host Molly Yeh On Pantry Staples, Career Advice, & Her Next Cookbook
"It’s important to create the work at a standard that you feel really good about."
In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice — from the best guidance they’ve ever gotten, to what they’re still figuring out. Here, Molly Yeh, host of Food Network’s Girl Meets Farm, tells Bustle about incorporating her Chinese-Jewish heritage into recipes, the best advice she’s received, and staying creative in the kitchen.
While many of us were panic-buying beans, frozen vegetables, and canned tomatoes at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, cooking with quarantine-ready foods was nothing new for best-selling cookbook author Molly Yeh. "Not having access to a lot of the ingredients that folks in cities and on the coast have access to, I’ve been cooking in this sort of pantry-staple style for a long time now," says Yeh, who moved from Brooklyn to a farm on the North Dakota-Minnesota border in 2013.
Despite her limited pantry, Yeh is passionate about creating unique recipes with impactful stories. "I don’t want to create recipes that you could just easily Google," she tells Bustle. "So to me, that means creating something totally new, like maybe a fusion dish that combines the flavors of my husband’s Norwegian heritage with my Chinese or Jewish heritage."
While Girl Meets Farm filming is on a break until August due to the pandemic, Yeh is currently working on her third cookbook, Home Is Where The Eggs Are, which is set for a fall 2022 release, and recreating recipes her dad grew up with. "I’ve been calling my dad and my grandma frequently to honor a lot of these recipes," she says. "Thank goodness for technology, because even being quarantined, I FaceTimed my dad had asked him about mapo tofu. I can call up my husband’s family members and ask them about Norwegian potato dumplings. There’s an endless wealth of inspiration in that."
Below, Yeh shares how she recharges, the hardworking mentality that inspired her, and the most challenging part of starting her award-winning food blog 11 years ago.
What’s something you still need advice on?
MY: I have a 15-month-old daughter, Bernie, and every day is new with her and it’s the most exciting, amazing thing ever. But I am always asking my mom questions — what to do when she won’t brush her teeth, how to raise her to make the world a better place, and what books to read her. We just filled up her library with books about diversity, with Black voices and Black stories. We bought a book about Harriet Tubman and this amazing book called Love Makes a Family about all different types of families.
How do you unwind after a long day of filming?
MY: I love reading — I read about five books at the same time. I’ve been working my way through the rom-com section of iBooks. I just bought Fair Play and I just read Twelve Recipes.
I also work out every day, not too much, just enough to make it manageable. I’m a big stickler about the time I go to bed, wake up, and turn my computer and my phone off so that I can have an hour at the end of the day to watch TV and turn my brain off. I try to eat healthy when I can, but it’s sometimes difficult when I have to test five cake recipes in one week. I balance it out many green juices and salads.
In retrospect, what was the most challenging part of launching your blog?
MY: The most challenging things for me have always been the nuts and bolts or business aspect of it all. Things like, how do I store thousands of raw files of a photo of a cake on my computer and not have my computer crash at the end of the day? What is SEO? How do I format photos? I have a lot of technology, internet, and programming questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MY: When my husband Nick and I started dating, "Die Young" by Ke$ha was really popular and there was this whole mood of just, "live fast, die young, go out and party tonight, because no one knows what’s going to happen next week." But, Nick, who is a fifth-generation farmer, was one of the first people to say to me, "No, let’s live like we’re going to live to 130. Let’s live like we’re going to put our future kids through college. Let’s save money, work hard on weekends if it means pursuing your dream, and do what you need to do in order to have a prosperous and happy future."
Farmers think in terms of generations. They’re thinking, what can I do today to set up this farm to be successful for my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids? This hardworking mentality inspired me.
The worst advice?
MY: If I go to somebody for help about something that’s keeping me up at night, the worst thing they could ever say is, "Just let it go. No one’s going to notice if that pie crust looks bad in this picture." But I’m going to notice. You never want to lower your standards. Maybe you learn to pick your battles, but if something is truly bothering you, it’s important to work to fix it and not let it go. It’s important to create the work at a standard that you feel really good about.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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