My love and I have been getting a farm share for about five years now. It’s always fun but a challenge for us, used to starting from recipes and then building a shopping list, to do it the other way around and try to craft a menu from ingredients. And it’s hard nowadays to find recipes that aren’t written assuming you have a whole season’s worth of produce available at the same time – calling for April asparagus and August tomatoes in the same recipe, for example. A recent celebrity cookbook I glanced at claimed to be seasonal, but lumped spring and summer recipes together – not really helpful if you’re trying to cook from your garden or the farmer’s market. This is why I put a hold on this book as soon as I saw it waiting to be processed on the new book cart.
Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing This is a cookbook of the kind filled with glossy, full-page photos of delicious-looking food. Reusing is the chef at Lantern, a local foods restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her focus in this book is easy but delicious food from seasonal ingredients, something between a foodie’s complicated recipes and someone who cooks primarily from cans and boxes and thinks that real cooking is too complicated. (As an aside: she uses foodie the way I’d use gourmet. I’d consider foodie to be the middle ground between a gourmet and someone who eats only from necessity, someone who appreciates good food but keeps it simple. What do you think?) Refreshingly for the local-cooking effort, the recipes are arranged by season and month, starting with late March. Of course, North Carolina’s spring starts a good deal earlier than Michigan’s, but plants still come up in the same order, so that’s easy to adjust for. She also uses a lot of seafood,all varieties that she considers sustainable enough to eat. While not exactly coastal, Chapel Hill is still a whole lot closer to the ocean than we are. We can get some lake fish, and maybe even treat it the same way, but “local” and “seafood” just don’t go together in my neck of the woods. While my web research showed Lantern listed as an Asian fusion restaurant, I didn’t get that so much from the book. Yes, quite a few Asian-inspired dishes, but also a lot of Mexican and European-American traditional. The treatments are generally very straightforward, designed for simplicity and relying on good, fresh food for flavor. My foodie husband says that he would see himself looking at it for inspiration and then using his own usual methods to put things together rather than actually following the recipe. I would leave out the chilies, cayenne, and/or red pepper flakes that are present in abundance in nearly every recipe. I really appreciated her discussions of what to do with the mountains of hearty greens like kale that tend to arrive with a farm share. There are also little essays with experiences for every season – what’s in at the farmer’s market, making fresh strawberry ice cream with her children to celebrate the last day of school, heirloom apple varieties and the efforts to classify and preserve them. This, too, is a kind of primer on finding your local food experts. All in all, this is a beautiful and drool-worthy book.
Originally posted at http://library-mama.dreamwidth.org .