The Austin Chronicle

Food, Foodies, Foodways

Cookbooks and cultural conversation starters top our summer reading list

Reviewed by Anna Toon, May 23, 2014, Food

The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle

by Jennifer McGruther
Ten Speed Press, 320 pp., $27.99

A food educator and advocate for sustainable agriculture, Jennifer McGruther founded the ever popular food blog Nourished Kitchen before embarking upon her latest endeavor. Based on the research of Weston A. Price, McGruther's The Nourished Kitchen focuses on nutrient-dense, traditional foods – or, as author McGruther explains, the foods of our great-great-grandmothers. Beautifully photographed, this cookbook showcases traditional foods in 160 simple yet refined recipes.

Embracing the bounty of gardens and farms, harvested locally and prepared at home, the idea is to eat mindfully while celebrating the connection between the farmer, the cook, and ultimately, the eater. Full of bones, organs, and muscle meat galore along with raw dairy and fats such as lard and butter, The Nourished Kitchen fully embraces old-world culinary traditions. From the divinely straightforward creamed collard greens made with butter, greens, heavy cream, onion, and nutmeg to the more complex rabbit pie with bacon and chanterelles, the book speaks to all levels of culinary prowess.

Organized into sections based on where the main ingredients are procured, recipes are found from the garden, from the pasture, from the range, from the waters, from the fields, from the wild, from the orchard, and from the larder. Though the traditional foods movement does challenge the benefits of an exclusively plant-based diet, The Nourished Kitchen also includes mesmerizing meat-free options such as rose petal and honey ice cream, dandelion greens salad with roasted nectarines and warm red onion vinaigrette, and sourdough blueberry pancakes with buttered orange syrup. Where the book most shines, though, is in its attention to four-legged provisions. Considering McGruther includes recipes for stewed beef heart with root vegetables and porcini mushrooms, pan-fried calf's liver with bacon and onions, and pickled tongue with mustard sauce, cooks who are squeamish about working with offal should likely look elsewhere. Ultimately, this cookbook will not be for everyone. Specifically, it speaks to a growing sect of eaters looking to revive the traditions of culinary past. Broiled lamb's kidneys, anyone?

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