Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho la Puerta: Recipes From the World-Famous Spa
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., Jan. 16, 2009
Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho la Puerta: Recipes From the World-Famous Spaby Deborah Szekely & Deborah Schneider, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 208 pp., $35
Most of us start the new year with the same typical resolutions, such as living a healthier lifestyle or losing weight. Unfortunately, I myself tend to drop out at the first mention of chicharrónes. But after reading Cooking With the Seasons, I actually feel inspired to stick to a healthier lifestyle regimen for real this year. The reason could be that this is not a diet book nor a fast fix to weight or health problems. Instead, it offers a seasonal assortment of enticing yet very simple recipes and menus created with the freshest ingredients available and without processed foods whenever possible. The goal here is to change the way you think about food and cooking in your own kitchen.
Author Deborah Szekely invented the destination fitness resort and spa in 1940 when she opened Rancho la Puerta, now known as Baja California's premier resort spa. For Szekely and co-author chef Deborah Schneider, "food is the very force of life, and eating simply and healthfully is one of life's most profound pleasures." For anyone who loves cooking – and eating – as much as I do, this statement makes perfect sense. Nothing is more rewarding and soothing than a leisurely cooked meal, especially using what's available in my garden. And although I understand and completely agree that this is not a daily possibility for most of us, it is important to make the best effort we can. Relieving stress is one of the most effective contributions to a healthier lifestyle.
The authors offer sidebar tips with advice on everything from using herbs to modifying recipes and how to choose sustainably harvested fish. The chapter on basics provides information on different grains and their cooking times, vegetable-cooking techniques, and the Rancho la Puerta at-home skin-care regimen using ingredients readily available in most people's pantries.
This book's beautiful photos and dynamite recipes have firmly planted the image of a relaxing weekend in Baja in my head. In the meantime, while I save some money for this personal reward, I'll keep reading this book and learning from it every week. I encourage you to do the same.
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