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Book Review: The Nourished Kitchen

Although the past nine months have been radically different from the nine months before, we are now approaching the official 18 month mark for our nomadic lifestyle.  Friends often ask what the most difficult part of traveling like this has been.  The answer is easy – food and friends.  Sourcing and cooking good and healthful food while traveling (especially camping) is much harder than when you have a home.  Thankfully, the past nine months of slow travel (staying in one place for a couple of weeks to a month or more) has made the food situation somewhat better, but still not ideal.  Not seeing friends regularly is by far the most difficult part of traveling.  Though we’ve been fortunate to see many friends through our journey, we typically see them for a day or few and then move on.  It has been amazing to see friends in far-flung corners of the country who I don’t see regularly, but I’d love to have a friend or two that I can see each week or couple of weeks.  Our time in Western Mass was amazing for that reason.  This will be one of the things I’ll most appreciate when we settle down somewhere.

To improve our eating habits while traveling, I picked up The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther through my affiliation with Blogging for Books.  It is subtitled “Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle.”  Perfect, I thought!  And it is truly a beautiful book.  The photography, layout, fonts, all of it, make this a book you just want to curl up with.  From that perspective, it is a fantastic book.  But, since I wanted this book for the recipes, I quickly decided to put it to the test.  Unfortunately, the recipes, though good, did not live up to the beauty of the pages.

cover

The book is divided into eight sections: 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.  The recipes range from the simple – delicious looking salads and dressings – to the adventurous – stewed beef heart with root vegetables and porcini mushrooms looks particularly interesting.  I may have to try the chicken foot broth after Van gobbled down chicken feet a few weeks ago when enjoying Chinatown dim sum with our friend, Gina. Given Van’s broad palate, there’s not much in here that he would turn his nose up at, but it’s not for those with a more restrictive palate.

I’ve given it a good go, making six of the recipes in the book with easier to source ingredients (be aware if you buy this book, some of the recipes look great, but call for harder to find ingredients).  This evening my family enjoyed the cider-brined slow-roasted chicken, which probably came out the best of the set.  My problem was less with the end results, but more with the actual recipes themselves.  I’ve come across several glaring mistakes.  For example, the caption under a recipe photo mentions as a main ingredient, something that is not in the recipe.  If it were only one typo, I wouldn’t even mention it.  But for a book of this caliber, I wouldn’t have expected repeated errors.  I’ve also noticed that several of the recipes leave out steps; I’m assuming under the assumption that they’re obvious and do not need to be stated.  However, to a novice chef, this will only cause confusion and a less than complete meal.

That being said, I’m still very happy to have this book in my library given the breadth of recipes that, though traditional, are hardly traditional in today’s society (stinging nettle soup with cream, anyone?).  I look forward to trying many of the recipes while we travel, and some of the more complicated recipes once we have a home.  I’m definitely excited to try my hand at making kombucha.  While camping, my treat to myself (when I could find it) was lavender kombucha.  An acquired taste for some, but I think it is absolutely divine.  It will be fun to experiment with the aid of this book and a proper kitchen.

If this beautiful, interesting, but less than perfect book sounds like it may be up your alley, you can check out a few excerpts here.  If you want to find out more about the author and her take on food, check out her blog, Nourished Kitchen.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

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