Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Farm to Table

Tenacious Rating: 
Last September my mom and stepdad went on a wine tour of the Pacific Northwest, namely Oregon and the Willamette Valley. In between touring vineyards and sipping some delectable pinots, my parents stumbled upon a sort of gift shop/market/cafe, that sold local jams, sauces, and other yummy tid-bits made by local chefs. The little place was called "Farm to Fork" and they boasted a totally local menu, gathering all that they needed within 200 miles of Dundee, OR, where they are located. She sent home to me some unbelievable goodies including: marionberry jam, habanero jelly, pinot noir vinaigrette and a pinot noir chocolate sauce! In addition, she picked up this awesome little cookbook for me, which couldn't have been more perfect as I had been doing extensive research in my graduate program on local food. 

A grocery bag my mom also picked up for me - it literally holds everything!

The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally by Ivy Manning, is the perfect new users guide to becoming a "locavore/locatarian" or  incorporating local food into your diet. Instead of being organized according to type of food or meal, Farm to Table is organized by season, the way any local food cookbook should be organized. If you want to try to eat locally, you have to be willing to eat with the seasons. It's definitely a transformation for most people, who have always had every ingredient at their disposal thanks to the advent of the modern grocery store and shipping all over the world. But the truth is, eating ingredients in season is eating food that is absolutely at its peak of yumminess and nutritional value. Not to mention, eating locally supports your local economy, reduces your carbon footprint, and is food as fresh as fresh gets! 

The book starts with a tribute to the local/organic movement that started as something very small and has since grown large enough that supermarkets around the globe now offer both options on their shelves. Manning also briefly explains the benefits of eating local and organic as well as a guide to navigate the farmers market -- my favorite tip: "take a stroll through the stalls before buying". Larger farmers markets can be overwhelming and many growers offer the same varieties, so checking things out first will help you to gain your bearings and also pick from whom you'd like to buy. 

This not-so-typical cookbook definitely continues with extraordinarily creative recipes, really playing up each section with the season's best. The seasonal sections even have mini tributes to certain ingredients that have a wide range of varieties, like spring greens, heirloom tomatoes, and winter squash. And some readers, such as myself, are not native to Dundee, Manning pays homage to the local growers that provide not only food for her plates but creativity to our palates. It certainly helps to form a new perception in readers minds about the average farmer and a new appreciation for the work they do. 

Check out Farm to Fork on the web at the Inn at Red Hills website. Also be sure to take a look at Ivy Manning's page for more information as well!

Recipes to try: 
  • Summer: Spice-Poached Peaches with Lavender Syrup and Mascarpone Whip
  • Fall: Butternut Squash and Bacon Stuffed Crepes
  • Winter: Sage-Braised Pork Shoulder with Herb Spaetzle
The Tenacious Winner: Spring: Brown Sugar - Sour Cream Ice Cream

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