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cookbook rec needed for simple, seasonal, sustainable meals

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amyamelia Jun 19, 2011 10:15 AM

Hello,
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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    penelopek RE: amyamelia Jun 19, 2011 08:48 PM

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

    http://www.amazon.com/More---Less-Coo...

    3 Replies
    1. re: penelopek
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      dfrostnh RE: penelopek Jun 20, 2011 04:40 AM

      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
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        amyamelia RE: dfrostnh Jun 20, 2011 07:34 PM

        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
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        amyamelia RE: penelopek Jun 20, 2011 07:29 PM

        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!).

        thanks!

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        dubedo RE: amyamelia Jun 20, 2011 12:17 PM

        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
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          sweetTooth RE: dubedo Jun 20, 2011 03:04 PM

          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
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            amyamelia RE: sweetTooth Jun 20, 2011 07:36 PM

            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!!
            thanks!

            1. re: amyamelia
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              sweetTooth RE: amyamelia Jun 21, 2011 11:44 AM

              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
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                sweetTooth RE: amyamelia Jun 21, 2011 11:55 AM

                Sorry, hit post too soon! You might also want to check out Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks.com 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
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                  amyamelia RE: sweetTooth Jun 21, 2011 07:32 PM

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

                  1. re: amyamelia
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                    sweetTooth RE: amyamelia Jun 22, 2011 01:02 AM

                    Aww. You're very welcome.

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            tastycakes RE: amyamelia Jun 20, 2011 03:12 PM

            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. goodhealthgourmet RE: amyamelia Jun 20, 2011 03:30 PM

              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. pikawicca RE: amyamelia Jun 22, 2011 08:06 AM

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

                1. LaLa RE: amyamelia Jun 22, 2011 10:19 AM

                  I am a big fan of Holly Herrick! This book is great...

                  http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Farmer...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LaLa
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                    amyamelia RE: LaLa Jun 22, 2011 08:47 PM

                    Thank you, TC, GHG, PW and LL;
                    I will put all of your suggestions in my DH's cart and let him take a look. We are having trouble finding good summer meals that do not rely on the kinds of meats we have available. Perhaps the crockpot is the answer...or maybe we should do meatless summer instead of meatless mondays. ;)

                  2. Jay F RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 06:39 AM

                    Have you looked at any of Perla Meyers' books? She was doing farm-to-table long before it was a catchphrase.

                    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...

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                      aikigypsy RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 11:37 AM

                      I recently checked "River Cottage Every Day" out of the library. I have not actually cooked from it yet, but I think it's very much what you're looking for. The vegetable section appears to be arranged seasonally, with asparagus at the beginning and leeks at the end. There is a lot of meat in it, but part of it's schtick is featuring lesser known cuts of meat. Many of the recipes have variations, a couple of versions of pizza, 3 types of pasties, several salads, all of which suggest further exploration along the same lines.

                      I also like the River Cottage Family Cookbook, which is more oriented towards kids (and would be great for anyone needing more explicit, step-by-step instructions), but I don't think I really need both. I'm trying to decide which I would get more use out of. The Meat book from the same series also looks great, and I used it the other day with good results, cooking lamb's hearts for the first time.

                      1. Breadcrumbs RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 12:08 PM

                        I have a pretty extensive collection of produce/local/farm market cookbooks so I took a look to see what might fit the bill. I can recommend 2 books that would offer quick, fairly straightforward, seasonal recipes and 3 terrific books that have suitable recipes however they are of varying complexities. Nevertheless, they definitely have weeknight-worthy dishes:

                        Top 2:

                        A Year In A Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

                        Cooking From the Garden - Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardner

                        Three terrific books w recipes of varying complexity:

                        Vegetable Love - Barbara Kafka

                        Local Flavors - Cooking and Eating From America's Farmers Markets by Deborah Madison

                        Smith & Hawken Gardeners' Community Cookbook

                        Also, you might want to ask your farmers for recommendations. They may even have recipes you can use.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Breadcrumbs
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                          sweetTooth RE: Breadcrumbs Jun 23, 2011 08:16 PM

                          Ooh! Glad you mentioned Jack Bishop's book. I wasn't aware of his cookbooks at all. I see he has another Vegetable book. Eagerly looking forward to thumbing through both these. Thanks for the heads up, Breadcrumbs.

                        2. herby RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 12:58 PM

                          I just ordered Jean Anderson' Falling off the Bone cookbook - have a look at it if your library has it. Here is a quote: "You'll find a world of easy, economical meat dishes here so succulent they melt in your mouth and so good they're off-the-charts delicious."

                          1. sgogo RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 04:15 PM

                            A New Way to Cook - lots of basic recipes with guides for improvising with what you have on hand. Very vegetable heavy, not a lot of meat recipes. She writes well, I learned a lot from this book, and there are some unique recipes.

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                              MelMM RE: amyamelia Jun 23, 2011 05:06 PM

                              You already have a lot of good suggestions. I'll add to the list the Abel & Cole Cookbook. This is a British cookbook, but I think they came out with a US version. Abel & Cole is an organic produce vendor, and the book is written by one of the owners. The book is organized by seasons, and the recipes are pretty simple. It's a fun book.

                              Also, I think any of Nigel Slater's books would fit the bill, but especially Kitchen Diaries, or the new, two-volume Tender.

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