After moving to Grand Forks, North Dakota, with her husband Nick (or “Eggboy” as he’s affectionately referred to in the book), Molly was able to focus primarily on recipe development and blogging. It was here that Molly on the Range came to fruition. A labor of love, the book began with Molly simply creating a list of some of her favorite recipes. “I made a list of all my favorite foods and started there,” she says.
“I wanted to do some things that might not necessarily be good in a blog post, but would be better in a book, and I also wanted to do some fun things that would translate well into illustrations.” Of its many colorful and often hilarious illustrations, it’s the macaroni and cheese flow chart that is particularly special for Molly. “Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese, especially when you have a flow chart that helps you make more awesome kinds of mac and cheese?”
Reflecting on her unabashed love for tahini, Chocolate Tahini Cake With Tahini Frosting is an example of the unique spin she puts on recipes. Made from toasted, ground, and hulled sesame seeds and often found in Israeli cooking, one might know tahini better from its inclusion in most hummus recipes. For Molly, though, it was a substitute for peanut butter when she was growing up. “You have to have good tahini,” she emphasizes. “[It’s] not too easy to find in the states. I order mine online from places such as Soom Foods out of Philadelphia or Seed + Mill out of New York.”
When it comes to the book’s one must-make recipe, Molly recommends her Seeduction Challah. Filled with many different seeds and blended with the sweet egginess of a challah, this is a traditional version with the untraditional Molly Yeh treatment. As for the uneasy baker, she has some advice for those who fear failure. “I hear people saying all the time, ‘I can cook but I can’t bake,’ or ‘It’s so complicated to follow a recipe’, and I feel like I’ve learned that when you’re baking, especially cakes, you have a lot more leeway than you think you do. If you have the basics fairly correct, then you’re going to be fine. Even if you do screw up a cake, you can always crumble it up and put it into ice cream or add frosting and make cake truffles. As long as you have the basics close to correct, you’ll be fine.”
Going beyond kitschy or cute, Molly’s blending of different cultures into her food offers another in a long list of distinctions for the Chicago native. Many recipes considered singularly Chinese or singularly Jewish get the Molly Yeh treatment and combine both her Asian and Jewish background, including highlights like Asian Scotch Eggs or Everything Bagel Bourekas.
“I love teaching people about these foods because they’re all very comforting and carb-y and good,” she says with a laugh. “[They’re] meaningful to me and played a part in my journey from Chicago to New York to the farm,” she continues. “They’re foods that pay homage to my heritage and to my new surroundings. They tell that story.” For Molly, Molly on the Range isn’t just a way for her to represent her unique story, it’s her hope that through the cookbook, she’ll be able to share the same joy she gets from cooking. “I want people to have fun with whatever they do. If I can play any role in being the highlight of their weekend, I would be so happy.”