Lorna’s Culinary Biography
My mom was a good cook, and a very adventurous. Consequently I was the first kid on my block to eat avocados and artichokes before Julia was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. I was too busy reading books and editing the high school newspaper to spend much time with mom in the kitchen, but I grew up with a relaxed sense of cooking good food.
One day, when I was 28 and studying for my doctorate in medieval literature at Columbia University, I happened upon a published version of manuscript recipes from the royal household of Richard II, dated 1390. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I checked the book out and started trying the recipes. My experiments led to teaching to children at the Cloisters and then to the publication of To the King’s Taste by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Before completing my doctorate, I also wrote To the Queen’s Taste (about Elizabethan cooking), Dinner with Tom Jones (about 18th century English cooking), and Christmas Feasts from History (which traces Christmas specialties from the ancient Roman times through Dickens.) During the 70s, I gave lectures and taught workshops on the history of gastronomy all around the country.
Cooking Under Pressure
During the 1980s my career took a turn when my mom brought a pressure cooker back from India and started turning out delicious soups and stews in 15 minutes. A lightbulb went off in my head: why aren’t we all using pressure cookers to get healthy food on the table quickly?
Cooking Under Pressure was published in 1989 to wide acclaim and went through 24 printings. It is now out of print and somewhat of a collector’s item; however, a revised 20th anniversary edition will be published in November of this year.
For about a decade I was a strict vegan vegetarian and ate no dairy or eggs. During this time I wrote quite a few vegan cookbooks, including Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen, Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegetarian (now revised and titled Short-Cut Vegan), The New Soy Cookbook, and The New Vegan Cookbook. Philosophically I loved eating a plant-based diet, but I frequently found myself low on energy and gradually resumed eating dairy, eggs, fish, chicken, and ultimately meat.
When I take a break from cooking and writing, I pursue many interests, including growing cactus and other succulent plants. I have recently become a garden guide at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
I love to travel and take photographs both at home and abroad. You can keep up with my day-to-day adventures on my blog: www.lornasassatlarge.wordpress.com.
I love jazz, theater, and cabaret and wish I went ballroom dancing more often. Above all, I am passionate about New York City life and lore. I feel extremely fortunate to live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and have Central Park for my back yard.
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