“I was a total foodie,” said Erway, “but it wasn’t very practical when you made $28,000 a year and live in New York City.”
Always an avid cook, she resolved to prepare all her own meals and thus began a two-year-long love affair with home cooking, which is chronicled in her book The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. Spending so much time thinking about cooking challenged her to eat more healthily, to consider the origins of her food and to cut down on waste.
“I realized I was eating a lot healthier than if I were eating out,” said Erway. “And after a whole week I’d compost organic waste, whereas before I’d have a whole can of garbage from one Mexican takeout order.”
Erway continues to blog about her culinary adventures, sharing her sustainable eating tips and recipes with readers. Her mission to save money on meals has proven effective; at the end of her blog posts, she calculates the cost of ingredients, and often times it amounts to less than $5 per recipe.
She recently staffed a farmer’s market at Asian Feastival, an event highlighting dozens of Queens restaurants, where she gave visitors a taste of unusual Asian crops and explained how to prepare them in meals.
“We think of them as exotic foods because they were introduced from other cultures but a lot of them can be grown in our climate,” she said. “It’s just a matter of introducing them to our palate.”
These days Erway grows some of her own food on the roof of Red Hook brewery Six Point Craft Ales. The rooftop garden is bursting with melons, zucchinis, berries, hops and even a coop with four different heritage varieties of hen. Several times a week, Erway prepares lunch fresh from the roof for the staff, another experience she blogs about.
“I went into this not knowing what would happen,” said Erway. “Whatever it is you’re passionate about, you should go for it, take it to the next level. You never know what you’ll learn in the process but it’ll be a very eye-opening and beneficial experience.”