From Wall Street to Watercress

Fresh Made Simple

Alumna discusses dynamic career, from Wall Street to Reuters to cookbook authorship 

By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

It wasn’t something she envisioned back in her days as a Dickinson student, but 13 years and two very different, successful careers later, Lauren Keiper Stein ’02 is right where she wants to be.

Stein will visit Dickinson Monday, Nov. 16, to talk about her path from Wall Street to a major news bureau to cookbook authorship, and how her Dickinson education helped prepare her for each stop along the way (Stern Center Great Room, 4:30 p.m., also available online via live stream). She’ll also deliver an interactive cooking demonstration (Stern 102, 5:15 p.m.), preparing a farm-fresh dish straight from the pages of her new book. All are welcome to attend.

It’s a delicious homecoming for the former international business & management major and study-abroad student whose professional journey began with a job at a Washington, D.C., financial-consulting firm. Four years later, Stein moved to Wall Street, where she worked for two years until the financial crisis hit in 2008—a watershed moment in the industry and an ideal time to reassess long-term goals.

Realizing her love of writing, Stein enrolled in a master's program in financial journalism at Boston University and embarked on her second career—as a journalist for Reuters, covering breaking national news and the New England beat as part of the worldwide news service’s Boston bureau. She and husband Eric also began to raise a family, and two years in, she transitioned to a busy freelance writing career, which allowed her to spend more time with daughter Abigail, now 3.

Stein also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing healthy food for her family. That led to career No. 3.

While pregnant with her second child (Jackson, now 9 months), Stein developed recipes around fresh, local ingredients that would appeal to all members of her growing family—and that a busy parent and professional could prepare with minimal fuss and stress. The result is Fresh Made Simple, a 200-page, 76-recipe cookbook (Storey Publishing), released last month, and featured in the October edition of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Each dish is built with fresh, local ingredients, and most are vegetarian, though there are helpful tips on how to incorporate chicken, fish and beef. Some are inspired by her days as a Dickinson study-abroad student in Mexico. All are accompanied with watercolor-and-ink illustrations that artfully explain every step along the way.

“My hope is that the illustrations make [cooking] more approachable and remove some of the worry a cook might have,” says Stein, noting that because the emphasis is on fresh ingredients, rather than precise measurements, cooks are encouraged to modify amounts according to their own tastes. “The idea is that it’s OK to relax and get creative—and even a little messy—in the kitchen.”

Perhaps most importantly, because the recipes are simplified and can be made with basic cooking tools—a saucepan and oven, a spatula or knife—they are easy make, share and enjoy with friends (and even small children; her toddler, Abigail, regularly helps plan and prepare meals).

“It’s about being able to make good, fresh food, literally in minutes,” Stein says, “but it’s also about really enjoying making, savoring and sharing delicious, healthy food with your family or friends.”

Stein’s visit kicks off International Education Week at Dickinson, which also includes an international-flag Guess It! Game (Nov. 17 and 18), an international-flag ceremony and a South America study-abroad info session (both on Nov. 19) and an international movie night (Nov. 20).

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Published November 13, 2015