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Jun 19, 2011 10:15 AM

cookbook rec needed for simple, seasonal, sustainable meals

I am looking for a cookbook that will support our attempts to eat simply, seasonally, locally and sustainably (we are in New England). Although I have found some "cooking from the farmers market" type books they are rather fussy and though I love that sometimes, I need simple right now. We are trying to move away from grocery-store meat products in favor of buying meat from farmers we know, which means that cuts like pork tenderloin and boneless chicken breast are out of our budget. We buy whole chickens, bone-in chicken legs, stew meats, roasts, and ground meat. We are also keen to include more vegetarian meals and fish (though we try to avoid "unsustainable" type fish so no imported shrimp for us.

All of the "simple and quick" cookbooks I've found use a lot of boneless skinless chicken breast, shrimp, and such. The quick and easy Eating Well book is an example of this, as is the Bittman quick cookbook.

We don't actually need "quick" per se (my hubby is stay-at-home so has time to stew, etc), but do need simple and rather frugal.

Can anyone suggest a book that might fit the bill?

Thank you!!!

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  1. Check out "More With Less" - it's a gathering of recipes from Mennonite homes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: penelopek

      I borrowed Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers Markets from the library but didn't have it long enough to try the recipes. Some used produce that isn't available in other areas of the country but it was an interesting read.

      You might be able to find two cookbooks published in the 80s when vegetable gardening with Crockett was a popular tv show at used bookstores. Cooking from the Victory Garden and the Garden Way's Joy of Gardening Cookbook. Each chapter is about a different vegetable from appetizer to dessert recipes. Both are good, basic guides to vegetable cooking.

      I would check your library first before buying a book.

      1. re: dfrostnh

        I think my mom has those books (and I agree they are great for veggies). Will check out her copies!

        I looked at the Farmers Markets book (I think) at the bookstore and that was the one I thought was too fussy (gingersnap crusted tart with marscapone and fresh currants comes to mind). Totally up my alley for entertaining but we're looking for something more basic. My DH would be stepping out to make his own not-from-a-mix pancakes...

        thanks for the recs!

      2. re: penelopek

        this one (and the related books) looks really fantastic. Will have to take a peek at the religious overtones to see if my husband will be able to get past that. Is there any meat in these books at all or are they completely vegetarian? I love that we could make our own homemade sub for sloppy joe sauce or cream of XXX soup. That's the kind of cooking he grew up on and it's exactly what we want to avoid (but it is comforting to him!).


      3. We are growing a lot of our own veggies now and I get a lot of mileage out of my copy of "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison. You can come home with any vegetable, fruit or grain and find several recipes starring that ingredient, ranging from very simple to only slightly complicated, as well as basic tips on handling and cooking that ingredient. It is as much reference book as cookbook. I highly recommend it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: dubedo

          Second the rec for VCFE. I buy produce almost exclusively at farmers market all year in SoCal and this book provides the recipes. Fairly uncomplicated recipes, tasty results.

          1. re: sweetTooth

            Ah, yes! I have coveted this book for a long time now. This may be my big chance. ;)
            I have many friends who LOVE it, so not surprised to see it recommended here!!

            1. re: amyamelia

              I'd also borrowed Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini from the library and enjoyed trying out recipe ideas from there. Was surprised to find so many that were meatless. But not a book I would buy.. at least not while I live in an apartment. :)

              1. re: amyamelia

                Sorry, hit post too soon! You might also want to check out Heidi Swanson's blog and her two books. Quite seasonal, definitely simple and yummy and meatless. But I am sure you could easily add meat to the recipes. Another cookbook that is actually arranged by seasons - The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook. This one doesn't have fussy recipes. Unfortunately many of them have an essential meat component, so my copy doesn't get used much. I don't know how much SoCal seasonal produce differs from New England, so your mileage may vary.

                1. re: sweetTooth

                  thank you for making such thoughtful suggestions! I will check them out!

          2. i really like Sunday Suppers from Luques by Suzanne Goin. i use it mostly for inspiration than actually following the recipes, but the ones i have used were solid.

            1. look into:
              "Simply In Season" by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind
              "Clean Food" by Terry Walters
              "Lucid Food" by Luisa Shafia
              "Serving up the Harvest" by Andrea Chesman

              and i second the recs for Deborah Madison's books.

              1. I like "Fresh Flavor Fast" from Everyday Food, and "Dinner Tonight: Done!" from Real Simple Books.