This month’s From Left to Write book club pick was actually a cookbook, which I was excited about because 1. I had other non-book-club books to read and very little time to finish them and 2. because I really do enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. The book is “The Earthbound Cook” by Myra Goodman.
I try to post recipes I like here on the blog (there’s a nifty “categories” drop down on the page where you can select “recipe”, but really I don’t have that great of a selection yet), but I take notoriously (at least in my own mind) horrendous food photos. So I always hope people believe me when I say that something is “awesome!” or “delicious…totally worth making!!” and I have a crappy, foggy photo. One of these days I’ll learn some tips for making my food look awesome, like my friend Joy whose food always looks like a million bucks.
But here’s a quick overview of the recipes I tried, before I jump into some of the other stuff in the book (because it’s a whole lot more than recipes).
First I made Cauliflower “Couscous” kind of on a whim, because I had bought a big head of cauliflower from Johnson’s Farm and I wanted to try something different with it:
The recipe involves chopping up raw cauliflower until it’s small (the author suggests using a food processor, but I’ll be darned if I break my mom’s and mine is in storage) and then adding other chopped veggies: leeks, carrot and zucchini, and cooking it down with chicken stock until it is almost like a rice consistency. Actually, I even tricked Marc by asking “how’s the rice?” (since we all know most men don’t even look at their food before scarfing) and he said “great!” I only felt a little immature when I gleefully yelled “it’s not rice, its cauliflower!” It really was yummy, and great topped with Pecorino cheese. Rayna ate it, which is always a victory when it comes to veggies, but like her dad she thought it was rice
Later I made the Linguine with Spinach, Tuna, and Bacon:
It was dee-licious, mostly because I love bacon (doesn’t everyone love bacon?) and Marc & I like “barely sauced” pastas. This was pretty much just sauteed bacon, a can of tuna in oil, a ton of fresh spinach, garlic and some grated cheese. Goodman has a little sidebar note about choosing sustainable tuna and she recommends pole-caught albacore as being the best choice. Since I’m pregnant, I’m guilty of our great many cultural food phobias including tuna-phobia, so I steered clear of the albacore and went for just the light variety.
This could lead me into the most interesting point I took away from reading some of this book (like I said, there’s tons of info in this book, interspersed throughout so you could read quite a bit book-style). The author owns an organic farm in California (“Earthbound Farm”–you may see some of their products in your grocery store) so naturally she argues for purchasing organic whenever possible. Now I try to buy as much organic food as I can; I usually stick to always buying organic dairy products, most anything I’m getting for Rayna, and most meat/veggies that I can find readily.
I have, however, been happy to buy non-organic veggies if they are locally grown (like the cauliflower from Johnson’s). Because there’s the whole “why would I buy organic from across the country when this was grown conventionally right here in Jersey?” (Of course, let’s pretend that statement is coming from an environmental standpoint, not necessarily a health one, but we could argue that perhaps the local produce in question was one of the “clean 15“). Goodman asserts that “When it comes to fresh produce, I believe local and organic is often the best choice[...]but I’m concerned when I hear recommendations for choosing nonorganic local produce over organic produce because it will reduce your carbon footprint. Choosing organic provides so many environmental and health benefits that I believe advocating local above all else is doing consumers and the planet a disservice” (page 212).
Interesting, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ll be honest, this isn’t a subject that I know too much about, or feel that strongly about, so I’m still on the fence. I see advantages in eating local and eating organic, I just wish that these decisions were easier. I do agree with Goodman’s bottom line–she ends her local vs. organic bit with “What I’ve come to understand is like a well-varied diet, local food and food shipped longer distances can each have a place in a menu that’s healthful for people and the planet.”
What do you think? I try to make the best choices whenever I can, because you could go insane (or have no life) living extremes. I’ll try to buy organic when I can, and local when I can, but not necessarily exclude one for another.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not paid or obligated to write this post, all opinions are my own.