photos: Emily Wight’s first cookbook is forthcoming from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and will be in bookstores in April. Photo: Tracey Kusiewicz.

Pants-free sangria, eat your heart out

Emily Wight pens a new cookbook for the rest of us.

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“If you are someone who loves good food, there's a pretty good chance you also love stories; food is all about stories.” This sentiment, expressed by well-known food blogger and soon-to-be published firstime author Emily Wight, rings true for all who have experienced the evocative power of shared meals and the often comforting, sometimes hilarious moments surrounding them.

Six years ago, Wight began her journey into blogging, launching Well Fed, Flat Broke as an online outlet for her creative musings combined with her passion for cooking on a budget. A Vancouver-based communications professional by trade, Wight connects with her readers by sharing her version of life's relatable ups and downs: kids, jobs (or lack thereof), friends, potlucks or just having one of those days.

Every well-crafted recipe comes with an anecdotal parallel, a glimpse of the inspiration that resulted in, say, pantsless sangria consumption (yep) or puddle jumping on a rainy night, hunting for marshmallows.

An admitted “over sharer,” Wight isn’t afraid to put it all out there, naturally connecting emotion and personal experience to food. “It's a very intimate thing, preparing food for yourself or for someone else, and when you do that you're telling a story about who you are, and where you came from, and what matters to you,” she says. “I am not great at expressing how I feel in words, but if
I spend five hours braising oxtails for our dinner it's because I like you.”

Wight’s lighthearted, approachable style (not to mention easy-to-follow, affordable recipes) has kept her online readers coming back for seconds, and carries forward into her forthcoming book, Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets & Messy Kitchens, due for release in April.

The book’s 120 recipes have been painstakingly tweaked, tested and “obsessed over”, with every ingredient considered carefully to allow for the building of a productive, versatile pantry that won’t break the bank. When curating ingredients for the book, Wight aimed to select items that could be used for multiple dishes—a great value-add for the flat broke among us.

Vancouver is known for being a pricey city in more ways than one. But that doesn’t mean people on a budget shouldn’t have access to good food. According to Wight, who has lived in Vancouver for over a decade, there are an abundanceof great deals to be found if one employs a few simple strategies (think bulk bins, points programs, and seasonal foraging).

“Things like grains, alternative- grain pastas, nuts, dried fruit, and alternative flours— buy those from bulk bins whenever you can.”

Among others, Wight’s favorite places to shop affordably in Vancouver include Kim's Market, Happylin Market, Top Ten Produce, Columbus Meats, and Sunrise Market.

If time allows, Wight suggests visiting a farm, as “a huge box of produce will cost a third of what it costs in thecity.” There are many strategies for cooking and eating on a budget, even in Vancouver. As her book jacket proclaims, “while you may occasionally be flat broke, you can always be well fed.”

Wight’s recipes are designed for the everyday cook, the busy family, the bargain hunter, and the lover of all things delicious. For her, creating a recipe can be experimental.

Wandering through markets for inspiration, and playing with ingredients to find just the right combination is, for Wight, a creative practice, “like painting,” she says, “but you get to eat it, and if you're lucky, someone else will clean up after you.”

Emily Wight’s Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets & Messy Kitchens is forthcoming from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and will be in bookstores in April.

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