This post is by Debra Kam, a member of Seacoast Eat Local, a non-profit organization that runs a Winter Farmers' Market in New Hampshire, and publishes Seacoast Harvest, an annual guide to local food. She writes about eating locally in Maine at her blog, Diary of a Tomato, and has got more cookbooks than anyone I know -- and the cooking talent to match. Here's her 2011 favorites. - Sam Fromartz
When Sam asked for my short list of this year's cookbooks, it wasn't difficult to choose. These are the ones that have made themselves at home in my kitchen, and have the food stains and handwritten notations to show for it. With local ingredients readily available from our garden or local farmers' market throughout the year, I view sourcing locally as less a limitation than a chance to cook with the best the season has to offer, and each of these titles have proven themselves able companions.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing
I often skip cookbooks that focus on foodsheds far from our own; the ingredients can be difficult to find or it may be a sensibility that just doesn't fit with what we have. Ordinarily North Carolina would fall in this category, but Andrea Reusing's sensitivity to what's in season and deep understanding of how they're grown surpasses geography. Her recipe for Old-Fashioned Baked Beans with Smoked Bacon has become a household standard (high praise from a New Englander), and I may have to go camping just to try her Campfire Bacon and Eggs in a Bag. The directions for Whole Roasted Onions borders on haiku in their brevity, but with luscious results. WIth the fall harvest in, Honey Frozen Custard with Honeycomb Candy awaits its turn in the kitchen.
Canal House Cooking
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's series of cookbooks made a big splash with their debut last year, and justifiably so. This is stylish food done with ease, each issue arriving to coincide with the change in season. I turn to these when guests are about to arrive and I'm in need of quick inspiration, or when all I require is a quiet meal with little fuss. Their online accompaniment, Canal House Cooks Lunch
, new for this year, is like having the ultimate in virtual take-out delivered daily, a reminder that every day can be a banquet.
Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler
Chances are, if you're eating locally, you're doing a certain amount of preserving. With my shelves already full of the usual home-canned goods — tomatoes, dill pickles, and peaches — condiments were the next frontier. Amassing the ingredients to make Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce, and Tomato Ketchup took a little forethought, but well worth the effort knowing we'd have these on hand to spice up a mid-winter meal.
It may be a specific demographic I'm hanging out with but, a quick glance at any of my friends' locavore kitchens reveals some amount of specialized equipment — Vitamixes, grain mills, hand blenders, pressure cookers, and meat grinders abound. So it's not such a great leap to include Modernist Cuisine here. It may not be a title most often associated with cooking locally, but there's plenty here to glean. The recipe format takes some getting used to — not unlike learning to drive on the other side of the road — but give your pressure cooker a spin and try out Caramelized Carrot Soup or Garlic Confit as a start. I admit acquiring MC is a commitment; their website helpfully includes a search engine for finding the nearest library with a copy of the five-volume tome.