If you want good, old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast, tempeh-filled enchiladas for lunch, and a westernized version of Indian kitchari for dinner, pick up a copy of "The Homesteader’s Kitchen: Recipes From Farm to Table." This cookbook has got recipes for basic bread and homemade yogurt — and newfangled ayurvedic and macrobiotic-inspired dishes, too.
Anyone stuck in a cooking rut will be inspired by the variety of recipes in "The Homesteader’s Kitchen" — though that variety is rather incompatible with the cookbook’s title. When I picked up "The Homesteader’s Kitchen", I assumed the dishes would focus on ingredients from Big Sur, where the author Robin Burnside lives. Best known as the former co-owner of Carmel Cafe in Carmel and Cafe Amphora in Big Sur, Robin is big on cooking with ingredients from your own garden or the local farmers market in the introduction to her book.
That’s why I was surprised when I got to the recipes, quite a few of which rely primarily on ingredients grown nowhere near Big Sur. The Creamy Mango Coconut drink sounded delicious, but neither ingredient in the drink’s name — nor the banana and agave nectar required by the recipe — are found in central California, as far as I know.
In fact, while "The Homesteader’s Kitchen" does have good, old-fashioned recipes for simple bread, basic vegetable soup, and grilled whole fish, a surprisingly large number of the recipes require macrobiotic staples like packaged tempeh and wakame seaweed or tropical fruits that you’re just not going to find in your farmers market, let alone your balcony garden.
Still, there’s much to like about "The Homesteader’s Kitchen". While I couldn’t get tofu and nutritional yeast at my farmers market, I did get all the veggies and mushrooms for my Scrambled Tofu and Fresh Veggies locally (above, with brown rice) — and enjoyed the delicious, slightly cheesey goodness of the healthy breakfast. I also tried baking Golden Oatmeal Cookies — made without white four or white sugar and instead sweetened with sucanat, barley malt, coconut, and raisins — and made new friends when I gave the moist, delicious cookies out to my neighbors.
"The Homesteader’s Kitchen" is not really any more helpful for the would-be homesteader foodie than any other cookbook with an emphasis on fresh, whole ingredients. But if you seek a good mix of recipes that’ll teach you a few basics for down home cooking and introduce you to today’s popular health foodie ingredients, this cookbook can get you started. Published last month, "The Homesteader’s Kitchen" is available at bookstores for $19.99.
Bottom photo: Siel