Q: What inspired you to write RECIPES FOR LIFE now?
Linda Evans: I came to a turning point where I had to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I have beautiful peace and joy in my life now, and feel I’ve only just begun. I recognized that my love for food and my passion for cooking and the life that I lived was something I wanted to reveal: The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows. I loved weaving together all the people that I’ve known and the wonderful food we’ve shared.
I wrote the book for people who love to cook, who don’t cook at all, or who just like to putter in the kitchen. There is a recipe for every level of cooking expertise; some are simple that anyone can make, some are a little more complex for those who like to experiment. In these difficult financial times, I included some recipes that are really inexpensive. The book is full of my very favorite dishes that will get anyone who eats them to say, “Mmmm, this is great!”
Open RECIPES FOR LIFE anywhere and the stories tumble out. You can read one chapter of my life, which may be only three pages, and just have that moment. You don’t even have to enjoy cooking; you can enjoy a really good read. Women will see that we all have similar journeys. The whole idea of loving and being loved is something I investigate throughout the book.
Q: Can you tell us when you realized that cooking was becoming very important to you — a central part of your life?
Linda Evans: It was the moment when I first saw that people can give so much love to you through food. Cooking is such a heartfelt gift. I wanted to reciprocate and be able to give back to them — not only the love that they showed me through the meal that they planned, but also the great flavors and tastes. I began a search for the best food, the best recipes, the ones that would put a smile on their faces and have them rub their tummies and say, “Oh my God, this is incredible.” Cooking is alchemy and there are so many things that go into it: The recipe itself, the love that you put into the food when you make it, the thought of the whole evening. I love planning a meal, I love cooking a meal, and I love doing the dishes afterwards. Every part of it is a joy for me.
Q: Barbara “Missy” Stanwyck, who played your mother Victoria Barkley on “The Big Valley,” became a nurturing figure in your life and acting career. How do you feel her presence on your first TV show, a role that also brought you stardom, influenced the rest of your life?
Linda Evans: It’s stunning to me that my first television series was with such an incredible legend. What a magnificent actress and beautiful human being. I was very fortunate that she wanted to teach me how to be a professional. She said, “Audra,” (she always called me Audra from the day I met her until the day she passed), “show up on time and know your lines.” This has served me very, very well and there are many parts that I got because of it. One of them was the Gambler with Kenny Rogers, who told me he hired me because I was such a professional. He had worked with unprofessional actresses and it was such a bad experience he was never going to do it again. Missy’s love and protection of me in the beginning of my career was really beautiful and her influence on me has been tremendous. She came to me when my mom died and said, “I’ll never replace your mom, but I’ll be your mom from now on,” put her arms around me and was there for me her whole life.
Q: In RECIPES FOR LIFE, you write about evenings at home spent with luminaries including Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, John Wayne, Julie and John Forsythe, Roger and Luisa Moore, David and Dani Janssen, Leslie and Tony Curtis — and so many more. As you were cooking, did any of you joke together about writing a cookbook one day?
Linda Evans: There was a lot of joking during meals and cooking with those people. They were a fun crowd. And when I went to their homes, they served the most wonderful food, which they made. They didn’t have their help prepare their food. Dinner was a time to share and enjoy each other.
Q: You write about catfights with Joan Collins on “Dynasty” and your guest spot on “Circus of the Stars” that ended with the teeth of the 200-pound leopard Sheba in your chest. What was your most unnerving or moving on-screen experience?
Linda Evans: The most unnerving show we did on Dynasty was one of the last ones. It was the ending of a season finale where Joan Collins and I were to appear trapped in a burning cabin. It was stunning how masterfully they set this up because it was meant to look like we were going to die. Of course, I love doing stunts and thought this would be fun, but I hadn’t counted on so much fire. With a blaze all around, it got hotter and hotter. I could feel the flames rush to my skin and I thought, “Aren’t they going to cut, aren’t they going to cut!” I was getting so nervous. I remember thinking, “Oh my God, is this out of control?” I didn’t have to worry about acting. The fear on my face was actual horror that we could die. It was probably one of my best performances because I was scared to death.
The most moving show … well, I love love. Blake and I got married several times on Dynasty, and I adored the sweetness of how our wedding was written, the romance of the two of them, the love that lasts forever, and being able to choose my wedding gown and have Nolan Miller design it. Being able to have the wedding of all time, next to Princess Diana. It was magnificent with every detail. There is something about those scenes where all day we got to get married and commit love to each other. Corny, but I loved it.
Q: What was your favorite “behind-the-scenes” moment from your appearance on the British TV reality show, “Hell’s Kitchen”?
Linda Evans: At night, we would go to our little area on top of a roof where we were isolated, and we could look out and see the stars from a certain angle. They would allow us a glass of wine and we would sit and get to know each other. For a reality show, we were a wonderful group that truly enjoyed each other. They taught me how to swear in British slang. When I would say the words, they would giggle, giggle, giggle because to me the word meant nothing and to them it was so outrageous. We shared and heard each other’s personal stories. We laughed and we cried. We were like a little family. And that’s why when they started eliminating us, it was truly painful because we all really went to bat for each other. It took them a long time to dismantle that in the workplace where people had to compete a little, but every night when we went back, we were there for each other.
Q: What are among your favorite comfort foods?
Linda Evans: I adore eggs, cheese and potatoes and mixing them together. Yum. I like to cook the potatoes and then cut them up and sauté them with herbs and then put them in an omelet that I make with lots of melted cheese. I could eat this twice a week. I just love it.
Q: What do you think will surprise people to learn about you when they read RECIPES FOR LIFE?
Linda Evans: I hope readers realize that everyone in life struggles and has insecurities or fears or doubts. Television stars and celebrities do not have a life that’s different from everyone else. It’s just a question of how we handle struggles and fears and how we learn from each other that makes our life a beautiful recipe that we create. We fashion every ingredient in it. And our life at the end is a testament to who we were and how we lived. I wanted to offer my life story to share one perspective. I hope people can laugh with me and that my life resonates with them in reflection to their lives, to see we’re all so similar in many, many ways.