Simply Inspired: Lindsay Cameron Wilson on Sparking Joy in the Kitchen

When I read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I applied her philosophy to the obvious: my physical stuff. It wasn't until I came across Lindsay Cameron Wilson's incredible essay, that I began to see how this idea of tidying can be applied to all areas of life, especially life in the kitchen.  Even though I've never met Lindsay in person, I feel like she's a good friend. This feeling is a testament to the authenticity of her voice; when I read or listen to her work, it feels like I'm hanging out with someone I've known forever, someone who gets it. This someone happens to be super articulate, funny, and one of the best storytellers I've ever (not) met. Read on to see how Lindsay Marie-Kondos her life (yes, it's a verb). And then go listen to her podcast. Seriously. Go. 

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Lindsay Cameron Wilson is a best-selling cookbook author and host of Love Food, a cooking show that celebrates food, family, and community. The Food Podcast is where she talks with food experts, food lovers and explores the real flavors of life. Lindsay studied history, journalism and the culinary arts. She taught cooking classes and started writing cookbooks in London, England, before moving back to Nova Scotia, where she grew up. Today she lives in Halifax where she works as a broadcaster, food stylist, writer and recipe developer.


What was your experience reading the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?

Do you ever feel like you’re wading through molasses while pulling a giant pile of rocks behind you? That’s how I felt last year as I was packing and moving house, as we moved, as I unpacked in the new house, as I set up my new home office and put old files and papers and cookbooks and random stuff on shelves. It was exciting to be in a new space, but I was literally carrying so much weight every step of the way. Needless to say, reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a wake-up call. The author, Marie Kondo, gives the reader permission to throw (or give) anything away that no longer ‘sparks joy’. I was holding on to everything from toaster warranties to twenty-year-old notes from random university classes. Stuff that didn’t spark joy. It all went, and it felt so good. It’s funny how I needed permission to do that.

Can you talk about the cleansing process?

Marie Kondo wouldn’t approve of my sock folding techniques. My drawers aren’t perfect, but now I only have what I need and love. The cleansing process inspired me to apply the ‘does it spark joy’ technique to other aspects of my life: to joyless friendships. To joyless jobs. To my cluttered, joy-less website that represented those joyless jobs. So I Marie-Kondo-ed it all! (She has become a verb :))

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How has this book transformed your life?

Marie Kondo-ing my website made the biggest impact on my life. I hired the Braid Creative team to help me rebrand my business. The Braid team also use ‘Marie Kondo' as a verb, so needless to say, it was a match made in heaven. Together we got rid of anything that didn’t match my aesthetic or my work priorities, and in the process, highlighted all that was great. I learned it wasn’t just a website I was trying to fix; I had to ask myself what I do and why I do it. I was reminded that I love working from home and am happiest writing while something is simmering on the stove. When this happens I can practically hear my future self-thanking me at dinner time.

Food writing, testing recipes for my cooking show and interviewing people on my podcast are all aspects of my career. It’s a life that revolves around good food. But, I have three (starving) boys. They’ve taught me to get over the dazzle and embrace the practical. Taco Tuesdays? Bring it on. Friday night pizza? Hallelujah. It’s a simple rhythm; it’s all very Marie Kondo. But it doesn’t mean I sacrifice flavor.

What do you do in the kitchen to spark joy?

The ingredients in my kitchen are predictable: standard dry goods, produce that rolls with the seasons, frozen peas, meat and chicken stock in the freezer and lots of greens in the produce drawer. The secret to sparking joy in the kitchen, for me, it to hit these perennial ingredients with flavor bombs. I always have a jar of pesto, dragon sauce or salsa verde on the go, or my latest obsession: chive oil. These ingredients make simple roasted vegetables, or omelets, or boring old broccoli SING. And the best part? Condiments are optional in my family. Sparking joy, I’ve learned, is a personal thing.

Want to try chive oil? Recipe here

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What have you decided that you don't need?

I’m six months into my new, joy-filled life, and realize that the kitchen is the one place that didn’t require a complete cleanse. I don’t have room for a bread machine, or a panini press, or even a special drawer for Tupperware (I would love to have a special drawer for Tupperware…) but looking back I have always been a minimalist in the kitchen.

I’ve filmed three seasons of my cooking show, Love Food, in various kitchens, and used an 8-inch chef knife for just about everything. The same goes in my home kitchen, along with a food processor or Vitamix (for all those flavor bombs!) a good vegetable peeler, a Kitchen Aid mixer, a Staub cocotte, a few cast iron pans and standard pots and pans. And of course a big jar on the counter for all the wooden spoons and tongs (the latter for pointing at children and grabbing things that fall behind the washing machine). That’s about it.

As a working mom, what do you do to simplify your life and live more intentionally?

Hands down, the best advice my mother ever gave me was to sauté garlic in a pan around dinner time, regardless of what you’re making for dinner. It sends the perfect ‘don’t bother me, I’m on it’ vibes throughout the house.

My grandmother said the secret to motherhood is always knowing what you’re having for dinner by 11am. When this happens (as mentioned above, when the stars align and I’m writing while dinner is simmering) I’m over the moon. When the day slips away from me, I just sauté garlic until I figure it out!

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Because I have to ask: what is your favorite salad?

My favorite go-to working from home lunch is a big, warm salad. The latest version is roasted sweet potatoes and red onion tossed with baby kale, feta, any seeds I have on hand, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a good drizzle of chive oil - my latest favorite flavor bomb.

For a salad inspired by Lindsay, check out this lentil potato salad with roasted red peppers and smoky paprika dressing.

Any simple tips or advice for making quick, healthy meals?

The secret to a good salad, even if it’s just for you, is a BIG bowl. A big bowl allows you to toss with wild abandon, and all the ingredients get a good coating. Oh and fresh herbs. A little mint, for example, will take any salad up a notch!

Ally MilliganComment