In a restaurant in San Francisco, Cade and Carrian Cheney sat indulging in a Margherita pizza. On the first bite, the Utah couple was hooked and blown away by the quality that fresh ingredients added to the meal.
After that pizza, Carrian Cheney said she and her husband came home, inspired to start baking their own way, creating recipes that were fresh. The rest, Cade Cheney said, is history.
“Our cooking isn’t about the food. It’s about the hands that prepare the food together, the relationships you can build while cooking,” Cade Cheney said in an interview with the Deseret News. “Everyone has a memory that is related to food, and we want to help people create more of those memories.”
"Our Sweet Basil Kitchen" is by bloggers Cade and Carrian Cheney.| Travis J Photography, Provided by Deseret Book
Since those beginning days, the Cheneys have started their own blog, Oh, Sweet Basil at ohsweetbasil.com, inspired by the basil on their San Francisco pizza. The Cheneys also recently published their first cookbook called “Our Sweet Basil Kitchen” (Shadow Mountain, $23.99).
The couple have been married for 12 years and said they have been cooking together since they started dating. They began their blog to make their recipes available to friends and family and were blown away when people from all over the world started discovering them, Carrian Cheney said.
She said, after a few crazy years of blogging and a few children, they were ready to put out their cookbook.
The Cheneys hope to remind readers “good food and good people make for a good life,” according to the book's description.
Cade Cheney said the “good thing” they want people to gain from their cookbook is the drive to get their families back in the kitchen and spending time together. They call their mission “reinventing dinner” and hope to also mix in family favorite recipes.
“Dinnertime doesn’t have to be mom slaving away by herself all day," Carrian Cheney said. "It can be quick and easy, and fun and healthy, going back to holding onto essential, unplugged time with family.”
The couple said this cookbook is their way of sharing the idea that families can create happiness and valuable memories in the kitchen. They also keep kids in mind, with simple meals with few ingredients to cater to those with children in the “picky eating” stage, as Cade Cheney called it.
Carrian Cheney said the moment she knew the book was going to become a reality came unexpectedly during a time of trial for their family. Carrian Cheney has hyperemesis gravidarum, a disease that causes intense sickness during pregnancy, according to a post on their blog.
Cade and Carrian Cheney are the authors of "Our Sweet Basil Kitchen." | Travis J Photography, Provided by Deseret Book
With her last pregnancy, Carrian Cheney said she spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and, after being discharged from a particularly rough stay, she had a moment of realization while listening to her husband make breakfast with their daughters.
“He was telling them that the batter wasn’t anything special when it was in the bowl, but that it becomes something awesome — and delicious — once it was put in the hot pan,” Carrian Cheney said.
“'It’s just like Mommy,' he said. 'She has to go through this hot pan in her life to make our family something cool. Good things are going to come from this,'” Carrian Cheney recounted her husband saying. “I knew then that those ‘good things’ were going to be so much more than just our blog."
One of the best qualities of the “Our Sweet Basil Kitchen” cookbook is the inclusion of simple ingredients. In the case of both the Honey Roasted Carrots and the Cranberry Toffee Oatmeal Chipper Cookies, all but a few ingredients were things most kitchens already have on hand, making for quick meal preparation.
The recipes are great for family kitchen time, with simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. The majority of the meals in the cookbook can be prepared with children, showing the success of the Cheneys’ mission to get families in the kitchen together.
Variety is another bonus to this book. In every section, from breakfast foods to salads, there are recipes for every appetite and preference. Each recipe includes a personal note from the authors in the description, which makes the book fun to look through, adding the feeling you are creating alongside the Cheneys.
Pea Pasta Salad is from "Our Sweet Basil Kitchen" is Cade and Carrian Cheney. | Provided by Deseret Book
PEA PASTA SALAD
8 ounces dry pasta, such as gemelli
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Cook the pasta according to package directions, being sure to not overcook it. Drain well and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.
Stir in the pasta, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, eggs, and cheese.
Top with bacon crumbles and serve. (If you choose to make this salad ahead of time, stir in the cheese and bacon just before serving.)
— "Our Sweet Basil Kitchen," Cade and Carrian Cheney