Advocates of farm-to-table cooking applaud it for its economic solvency as well as health and environmental benefits. With fewer dollars going to transportation, processing, and storage, restaurants and home cooks, who enjoy locally sourced food, save money and receive higher quality products. Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz, authors of Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes (Chelsea Green Publishing, 978-0-615-22760-3), write “Even small farms that are not certified organic are likely to use fewer pesticides and many do not routinely administer antibiotics to their lifestock.” A professional chef and a registered dietician, respectively, Jarmusz and Imrie have created a cookbook/crash course in preparing healthy locally sourced food. Organized by course according to season, and offering up useful harvest hints, such as recommendations in purchasing lamb directly from the farmer or how to buy and store pears, this elegant book features delicious foods that are relatively simple to prepare. Among chapters one would expect, such as soups and pastas, is one chapter dedicated to preserving the garden’s bounties.
Following the course of changing seasons and using locally raised meats and produce have become touchstones for contemporary cuisine. Imrie and Jarmusz emphasize vegetarian dishes, but carnivores have little to complain about since duck, chicken, pork, beef, salmon, and trout all star in multiple places. Seeds, nuts, and cheeses enliven salads and vegetable gratins, and plenty of imaginative and colorful relishes and salsas dress up even the plainest meals. They leap the border to create a classic Quebecois meat pie, tortière, using buffalo, venison, and beef for richer flavor than the customary all-beef version. Imrie and Jarmusz offer a few recipes for preserving the summer’s bounty by pickling pepper, canning corn relish, and even bottling a maple syrup–based barbecue sauce. Full-color photographs make the recipes’ results appear even more attractive. New England and Northeast libraries will find this title particularly useful. — Mark Knoblauch
Imrie, Diane & Richard Jarmusz (text) with Andrew Wellman (photogs.). Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. Chelsea Green. Mar. 2011. 240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781603583343. $34.95. COOKING
In this reprint of a 2009 self-published book, registered dietitian Imrie and professional chef Jarmusz combine their professional talents and passion for sustainability to present recipes with local ingredients for deliciously fresh meals. They advocate growing produce in backyard gardens, participating in community gardens, and purchasing from local farmers' markets or farm shares. Fresh, seasonable vegetables and fruits are key ingredients, as are whole-grain flours. The book is organized by meal course and then by season. The complete index includes meal courses and ingredients, making the recipes exceedingly accessible. Nearly every dish receives a full-page color photo, and tips include recommendations for selecting and preserving produce and meats as well as shortcuts and cooking methods. Although the authors live in the Northeast, the recipes and hints pertain to locations throughout North America. Most of the recipes are easy enough for weekday dinners yet colorful enough for company.
Verdict Imrie and Jarmusz's beautiful, simple recipes that use local sustainable ingredients will please any cook looking for delicious guilt-free meals.—Ann Weber, Bellarmine Coll. Prepatory, San José, CA