REVIEWS BY KRISTINA SEPETYS
A bunch of new spring titles we’re anticipating as eagerly as that first spring daffodil! These are books and recipes to inspire you to get outside and into your gardens, to breathe deeply and revel in the fresh, earthy smells of springtime and to nourish your health and wellness. Tend the land, sow your seeds and use these stories to make plans to make the most of your harvest!
The Nourishing Homestead: One Back- to-the-Land Family’s Plan
for Cultivating Soil, Souls and Spirit
By Ben and Penny Hewitt
(Chelsea Green, 2015)
Writer Ben Hewitt was raised in northern Vermont in a two-room cabin on a 160-acre homestead. He eventually bought 40 acres of his own with his wife, Penny, in Cabot, where they built their own house, powered with a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels and carved out a small-scale hill farm. There, they homeschool their sons; keep cows, pigs, sheep and chickens; and maintain extensive gardens. They also keep a small orchard, forage for wild edibles and make the most of their harvest by processing meat, making butter and fermenting, drying and canning produce. They share the fruits of their traditional labors by preparing nutrient-dense foods for themselves and their immediate community. Ben Hewitt uses the term “practiculture” to describe his family’s work with the land and the practical life skills and philosophies necessary to create a thriving homestead, like raw-milk production, soil remediation, wild crafting, and bio nutrient-dense farming, permaculture and agro forestry. In this spirit of sharing, their latest book offers an engaging combination of personal narrative and how-to instruction to encourage others to build satisfying, permanent and nourished relationships to the land, nature and to one another. Although their experience and knowledge is deeply informed by their life on their particular piece of land in bucolic northern Vermont, they offer practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food on even a very small plot of land in any location and to think about it as part of ecosystem.
Simply Ancient Grains
By Maria Speck
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
Boston-based Maria Speck, a food writer and self-taught cook with a life-long passion for ancient grains, is the author of the much-decorated Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. In her latest book, she makes cooking with ancient grains faster, easier and more intuitive with a collection of nourishing recipes using grains like black rice, red quinoa, golden kamut berries and other ancient grains, most of which are gluten-free. Her family-friendly dishes are Mediterranean-inspired and delicious, with dishes like Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion and Pine Nuts; and Red Rice Shakshuka with Feta Cheese. An excellent reference and a fine source for healthy, nourishing and satisfying grain-based dishes.
The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon:
Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share
By Sara Forte and Hugh Forte
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
Nothing says ease and comfort like a meal in a bowl, whether that meal is a salad, midday snack, warming bowl of soup, hearty dinner, or rich dessert. In this follow-up to her successful James Beard Award–nominated first book, The Sprouted Kitchen, blogger Sara Forte serves up 100 recipes for vibrant, nutritious dishes combining vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins served up in a single bowl. While ingredients and preparation varies from easy to somewhat more complex, the resulting fare is simple and casual. With beautiful photographs by her husband, Hugh Forte, it’s a visually appealing collection of healthy, easily prepared, recipes well-suited to spring produce, like Eggs and Green Harissa-Spiked Asparagus, Capellini with Roasted Cauliflower, and Cocoa Nib Pavlovas with Mixed Berries, as just a sampling of the many dishes and combinations.
My New Roots:
Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season
By Sarah Britton
(Clarkson Potter, 2015)
Sarah Britton, a holistic nutritionist and popular blogger with ties to Canada and Copenhagen, where she worked in the NOMA test kitchen, considered one of the best restaurants in the world for its emphasis on wild and foraged foods in its menu. Britton strongly advocates cooking with fresh, locally grown produce, even in environments where those options may seem limited. Her debut cookbook shares 100 of her favorite plant-based recipes, all beautifully photographed. Britton and her blog have attracted legions of followers—vegetarians, vegans, paleo followers and gluten-free gourmets alike—eager to try her adaptable, easily managed and very healthy dishes. My New Roots assembles many of these recipes and describes the techniques to best prepare foods to draw out their healthful and most delicious properties. Follow the rhythms of the growing seasons with dishes like Savory Spring Hand Pies, Thai Style Coconut Soup with Zucchini Noodles, and Beet Party with Orange and Pine Nuts, Raw Cashew Yogurt with Maple and Blackberry; Grain-Free Hemp Tabbouleh; Sparkling Mint Melonade; Apricot Rhubarb Clafoutis; Vanilla Rose Apple Cider; and Raw Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. All of the recipes are vegetarian, most of them vegan and many of them gluten-free.
100+ Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes
By Ella Woodward
London-based Ella Woodward writes the very popular food blog Deliciously Ella. In her late teens, Woodward was diagnosed with a rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, a breakdown of the autonomic nervous system and a condition she attributes to a poor diet and too much refined sugar. The illness kept her bed-ridden, in chronic pain and plagued by heart palpitations and headaches. When conventional medicine failed her, Ella decided to change her diet. Literally overnight, the self-taught cook gave up meat, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, chemical additives and anything processed, and taught herself to make whole-food, plant-based meals from unprocessed ingredients. The effects were immediate. Her symptoms disappeared, her energy returned, and she was able to stop medication. Her cookbook is a guide to stocking the pantry and preparing healthy, satisfying plant-based eating with recipes that are uncomplicated, easy to follow and prepare. From Homemade Baked Beans with Giant Hash Browns, Beetroot Carpaccio, Fries and Ketchup, to Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Sweet Potato Brownies, Beetroot Chocolate Cake with Coconut Icing, the book includes new recipes and some of her classics.
Food52 Genius Recipes:
100 Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook
By Kristen Miglore
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
If you enjoy food writing and recipes, you probably know Food52, the award-winning online crowd-sourced food community and recipe hub. Executive Editor Kristen Miglore writes the James Beard Award–nominated and very popular Food Genius column found on the site. Each week, she features a favorite recipe from a well-known blogger, chef or food writer and identifies the “genius techniques” necessary to get the dish just right. The recipes aren’t terribly complex. And the techniques aren’t difficult, but they can really make a dish sing. For example, the secret to making Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese especially delicious is simmering the cauliflower in a seasoned broth before roasting. Marcella Hazan’s beloved Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion doesn’t require an all-day simmer or heaps of garlic and herbs for its pure flavor. The genius is in the tomato preparation. They should be blanched, frozen, processed in a mill, or even harvested from a can. The book includes 100 foolproof recipes and photos of each finished dish, like Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Black Pepper Tofu, Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, and Michael Ruhlman’s Fried Chicken. A great book for beginner and advanced chefs, very much in keeping with the Food52 ethos that memorable cooking doesn’t have to be complicated.
The Cabot Creamery Cookbook:
Simple, Wholesome Dishes from America’s Best Dairy Farms
(Oxmoor House, 2015)
Perhaps best known for its well-crafted and flavorful cheddar cheese, Cabot Creamery is a cooperative owned and operated by its members, 1,200 dairy farm families located throughout New England and upstate New York. Cabot produces award-winning cheeses, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream at its plants in Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. Their new cookbook is a collection of 150 easy to prepare recipes, appetizers to desserts. Stories about some of the family-owned farms that make up the Cabot Creamery Collective are especially engaging. Read about the Couture family, who also produce maple syrup at their farm in Westfield, VT. Or the fourth-generation dairy farmer working the family’s 163-year-old Maine farm. Or the farming family that also operates an educational center at Dutch Hollow Farm in New York. Recipes include hearty dishes like Baked Macaroni and Cheddar (Cabot, of course!), Echo Farms Au Gratin Potatoes with Cheddar-Stout Sauce, Buffalo Chicken and Pepper Grilled Cheese, and Cheddar Cream Biscuits. Nearly all recipes include photos of finished dishes and the book includes scenic photos of the countryside.
Classic American Pies for Today’s Home Baker
By Anne Haynie Collins
(Countryman Press, 2014)
At its most basic, a pie is pastry dough wrapped around a filling. In the U.S., that filling is typically sweet, a tradition stretching back to the early days of our country when Pilgrims brought their recipes from England and adapted them to make use of the fruits and berries introduced to them by Native Americans. Since then, pies have graced American tables and variations have evolved into regional favorites around the country. The sweet dessert has become an iconic symbol of American cuisine, “As American as Apple Pie!” Author and Cornwall resident Anne Haynie Collins has undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering. But her real love is pies, and she’s been baking them all her life. Her cookbook, published by Vermont’s own wonderful local publisher of historical titles, Countryman Press, presents dozens of recipes from centuries past, many using basic ingredients found in local gardens and markets and simple preparations familiar to most home bakers. Photos are by Shoreham locals Todd and Lisa Balfour. Collins includes recipes for a variety of cakes including basics, transparent pies (with slightly opalescent filling), cake pies, custard pies, cream pies and, of course, fruit pies. There are plenty of familiars, like American Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie. But more interesting are the less familiar, many with intriguing names and histories, like Butternut Maple, Lemon Chess Pie, and Bob Andy pie, Quakertown Pie, Union Pie and the intriguingly named Wet Bottom Shoo Fly Pie.
Kristina Sepetys loves reading and writing about cookbooks and testing recipes for accuracy (and taste!).