Inspired cooking: Shelley Adams on making meals fresh, simple & delicious

So many amazing cookbooks have come out of BC. Not surprising, since we’re home to many world-class culinary celebs (Rob Feenie, Vikram Vij and John Bishop to name a few). Another fabulous cook named Shelley Adams can be added to this list. Adams has authored two best-selling books, Whitewater Cooks: Pure, Simple and Real Creations and Whitewater Cooks at Home, both of which have garnered rave reviews.

Like the beloved Julia Child, a fan blogger at Shelley & Me is blogging her way through all of Adams recipes (she cooks approximately one/day). We love it! For sooo many reasons, we wanted to find out what all the fuss was about and we did. Her recipes look, sound and taste amazing. Adams' style relies on fresh ingredients, and simple food that is full of flavour. Every recipe is mouth wateringly inspiring. Here we reach Shelley at her home in the Kootenays.

BT: How did you get started as a chef?

SA: I grew up in Vancouver and worked as a chef on movie sets for fifteen years. Eventually, my husband became the manager of a popular resort in Nelson, named Whitewater Resort and I took on the role of Food and Beverage Manager. Eventually, I decided to archive all my favourite family recipes into two cookbooks!

BT: Your cooking philosophy?

SA: Simple but yummy. Nothing out a package ever. It makes all the difference to a truly flavourful meal and it’s worth it. My theory is that a passion for real, delicious food is contagious. Case in point, my 18-year old son says he has two things he wants to do this summer: learn to drive a standard and cook!

BT: Indeed, you are a busy mom! Any tips for parents on how to remain inspired to cook?

SA: For inspiration, I recommend parents plan the meal early in the day or the night before. It’s important to develop a routine that makes you want to cook and to create a setting in which cooking is enjoyable i.e. turn the TV off while cooking, get rid of any cluttered homework on the counter. For prepping ahead of time, you can do things like marinate the chicken in the morning, make salad dressing ahead of time, and always let the kids know what you’re having that night for dinner so they are excited for the meal together!

BT: How have you invited your children to participate in the family meal?

SA: Dinner hour at our house is sacred and always has been. When my kids were younger and couldn’t do as much to help, I encouraged them to get involved in the meal simply by talking about what we would be having and engaging their ideas and encouraging them to enjoy good food. Even if they were sitting on the counter while I was making cinnamon buns, it was quality time together. Now that they’re teens, I leave notes for my kids and husband to tell them to help out when they get home by making a salad dressing or setting the table or making lemonade. As a result, my kids love to have meals together as a family, and make a priority to be home for dinner, no matter what their crazy schedules are like!

BT: What are your two cookbooks like?

SA: My two books are full of easy recipes, delicious flavour combinations, easy-to-find ingredients and include nothing out of a package. All of the methods are super easy and have been tested and approved by teenagers. Most of the recipes in both books incorporate around four ingredients. I think it’s important to be able to put together a really nice meal without a ton of shopping. The cookbooks are for people like me- I’m super busy and active but the dinner hour is very important so I make sure I can still cook dinner and get a million things done. The recipes are things everyone loves, like Summertime Linguine, Halibut with wasabi crust, Chicken Saltimboca, Chicken Marbella. Very family friendly.

Here we leave you with Shelley’s River Wraps. (pictured here) 

Title: River Wraps


2 Tbsp. (30 mL) vegetable oil

2 medium onions, sliced

¼ cup (60 mL) barbecue sauce

1 tsp. (5 mL) pepper

2 cups (500 mL) broccoli

2 cups (500 mL) cauliflower

1 cup (250 mL) carrot, grated (about 1 large)

1 cup (250 mL) red cabbage, grated (about ¼ head)

3 dill pickles, slivered

1/3 cup (75 mL) mayonnaise

1 tsp. (5 mL) chile in adobo (optional)

1 head leafy green lettuce, washed and dried

6 10-inch (25 cm) whole wheat tortillas


Cutting board and knife

Measuring cup and spoons


Frying pan


Sieve or colander

Small bowl

Bowls to hold each filling ingredient

Plastic wrap

Number of Servings: 6

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Method 1. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to colour. Add the barbecue sauce and continue cooking until the sauce is absorbed and the onions are just beginning to stick to the pan. Add pepper. Set aside to cool. 2. Break up the broccoli and cauliflower into small pieces and blanch it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. 3. Drain off the hot water and plunge the broccoli and cauliflower into cold water for a couple of minutes. Drain well and pat dry. 4. Mix together the mayonnaise with the chili in adobo in a small bowl. 5. Put all your prepared ingredients in bowls. Lay out a 10” (25 cm) piece of plastic wrap on your counter. 6. Toast one tortilla in a lightly oiled frying pan for a minute or two on each side. Let it cool slightly and lay it on the plastic wrap. 7. Assemble the wrap by spreading the tortilla with some of the mayonnaise and the onion mixture. Add a line of broccoli and cauliflower, a line of pickles, a line of grated carrot and red cabbage and top with lettuce. 8. Roll up the tortilla as tightly as you can, folding up the ends of the plastic wrap and making a nice tight roll. Don’t worry about any tears in the tortilla—just carry on. You can always eat your mistakes later. 9. Proceed with the rest of the wraps.

Shelley writes, “We like to toast the tortillas to bring out the nutty, whole wheat flavour but you don’t have to. If you do, be careful not to make them too crisp or you’ll have trouble rolling them up neatly. These wraps will last refrigerated for a couple of days.”

Try this recipe and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you. Join our conversation on Facebook. This week we’re giving away a copy of Shelley Adam’s Whitewater Cooks at Home to one of our lucky fans!

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