Something I’ve found out (the very hard way) during my 13 years of gardening and trying to cook is that being able to grow a diverse amount of amazing fruit and vegetables is one thing.
Actually using and eating those vegetables that you grew is something else altogether.
It can be nothing short of impossible on the best of days to think of a way to use the kohlrabi you planted on a whim, and sometimes there is just no way you can eat another mouthful of salad. Just. No. Way. Meanwhile, the plants keep growing and piling up in your kitchen and pretty soon you are ready to renounce gardening and vegetables altogether and embrace a diet comprised entirely of microwave pizzas.
The struggle. It is real, my friends.
Which is why, recently, in the throes of another rainy March afternoon, I was so thrilled to come across Andrea Bemis’s new cookbook, “Dishing Up the Dirt“. Andrea is a farmer here in Oregon, as well as an amazing cook (and blogger), so she knows just what the rest of us are going through. The recipes are original, creative and they all sound delicious!
I’ve bought a lot of “farm to table” cookbooks over the years, and other cookbooks written by other farmers, but for the most part I’ve been disappointed with all of them.
My main complaints with these books are that either they’re written by restaurant chefs and the recipes are just too complex and impossible for the likes of me, or they deal primarily with animal proteins. I don’t have a problem with animal proteins – I love cheese and hamburgers and yogurt as much as the next person – but what I needed was a cookbook that helped me deal with all the plants I was growing, not the other stuff. And I needed that help to be very straightforward and uncomplicated.
“Dishing Up the Dirt” is that book.
The recipes are, for the most part, all very simple – as cooking vegetables (and really anything) should be. Some of the recipes I’m most excited to try are Spring Harvest Pizza with Mint and Pea Pesto, Grilled Scallions with Romesco Sauce, Kohlrabi Fritters with Garlic Herb Cashew Cream Sauce, and Rutabaga Home Fries with Smokey Cashew Sauce. Don’t those just sound insanely good?!
Andrea’s book also holds true to it’s subtitle of “simple recipes for cooking through the seasons.” Instead of organizing her book by breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes as most cookbooks do, she separates the recipes by season, using ingredients that are either growing in your garden at the time or that you can find at your local farmer’s market. She also explains that she did this because there is no hard and fast rule that you can’t eat oatmeal for dinner. She eats what her body craves when it craves it, and that honestly seems more healthy to me.
Another thing that makes this cookbook so wonderful are the essays at the beginning of each chapter, and also the introductory paragraph with each recipe. Andrea’s writing is honest and genuine, giving readers a wonderful glimpse into what it takes to live and work on a farm, and to grow and sell food for other people. It’s a beautiful tribute to this way of life, and if I didn’t already know that I wanted to spend my life growing food in the quiet of the country, this book would definitely push me in that direction.
Now, I know that I am on the record about not being a fan of cooking, and for the most part it’s absolutely 100% true. But I do want to eat those healthy and nourishing things I grow out in the garden (and, more importantly, I want my children to eat them) and I think that thanks to this cookbook we’ll be doing just that.
Bring on the vegetables!
Dishing Up the Dirt
Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons
By: Andrea Bemis
Publisher: Harper Wave | March 14, 2017
Format: Hardcover | 304 pages
Rating: 5 of 5