It’s rare to come across a cookbook where the recipes, photographs and stories capture such attention and evoke such a desire to get in the kitchen and cook that you simply can’t resist cracking open the book in your every spare moment to ooh-and-ahh over the pages. Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors is one such masterpiece.
The book is an artful combination of recipes and musings illuminating the brilliance of America’s farmers’ markets. Madison aligns the chapters of the book with the seasons, beginning with spring’s plentiful greens and ending with storage foods—foods that keep through the winter. The book jacket sums up Local Flavors perfectly:
“By going behind the scenes to speak with the farmers and producers, Deborah Madison connects readers directly with the people who grow their food. Full-color photographs of gorgeous produce, mouthwatering dishes, and evocative scenes from the markets will entice readers to cook from the farmers’ market as often as possible.”
I’ve already made a handful of recipes from the book, including Harriet’s Hot Roasted Cauliflower (who knew roasted cauliflower could be so good?) and a variation on the Chickpea Salad with Coriander and Cumin. I’m aching to try the Pea and Spinach Soup with Coconut Milk, but might get to the White Beans with Black Kale and Savoy Cabbage first.
To be honest, I don’t know if there’s a recipe in this book that doesn’t look good. (As I’m flipping through the cookbook now I’ve just come across the Three-Beet Caviar with Endive and Goat Cheese, which really contains no caviar at all. The beets themselves are the caviar, and the photograph is making me swoon.)
With nothing but farmers’ market abundance ahead in the next six or seven months, Local Flavors will be one of my go-to sources for inspiration of what to make with all of the treasures stacked high at the market. There’s nothing more satisfying to me, both physically and spiritually, than taking the gems of the earth—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes—and transforming them into delicious and nourishing dishes both sweet and savory. Produce itself is inspiring with its vast array of colors, textures and flavors. But I love it when I stumble upon a book like this one that harnesses all of those colors, textures and flavors and heightens them to a new level of deliciousness.
Madison writes in the epilogue of her book,
“We need to use our markets deeply if farmers are to continue to farm and we are to continue to eat well in the deepest sense, being nourished by our immediate landscape and community. How fortunate that meeting this need is one of the most pleasurable obligations we can assign ourselves.”
I couldn’t agree more.
In other news…
Have you checked out the round up of guiltless gluten-free recipes yet over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free? The March theme for the “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free” blog carnival inspired some of the best bloggers on the web to come up with creative and delicious gluten-free pleasures made a little bit healthier. I entered Two-Bite Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Cakes. Head on over here to see the 30+ other gluten-free entries!
I also wanted to share some info with you all about an interesting film project I heard about recently. The movie, FRESH, is designed to highlight and celebrate the farmers, thinkers, and business people in America who are changing the face of our food system. FRESH is all about re-inventing the way we eat in this country and emphasizing the importance of small farms, local food, and sustainable agriculture. For more information about this exciting project or to view the trailer, visit the website.