Julia Shanks is a chef, serial entrepreneur and pilot whose passion for food preparation began when she was 12 years old and determined to bake, sauté and steam her way through the complete set of Time-Life Cookbooks. After college, she honed her culinary talents working in restaurants around the country, developing a taste for fresh, local and seasonal foods and “farm-to-table” cuisine. Today, Julia consults with restaurants, farms and food producers helping them maximize profits. She lectures on sustainable food systems and farm accounting, sits on the advisory board of Future Chefs, and is the regional leader of Slow Money Boston.
Brett Grohsgal has dedicated himself to delighting taste buds from New England to California, working as everything from line cook to executive chef, while developing and sharing his appreciation for artisanal, seasonal foods. As his passion for cooking evolved he began growing his own produce, and in 1996 he and his wife established Even’ Star Organic Farm. Even’ Star focuses on harvesting crops year-round for restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, and hundreds of CSA members, while adhering to the highest standards of responsible environmental stewardship. “Life is too short, and farm life too arduous, to ever grow or eat boring foods.”
Their collaborative effort, “The Farmer’s Market Cookbook“, offers detailed produce descriptions, storage tips, preparation techniques and over two hundred flavorful recipes for the rich array of unusual fruit and vegetable varieties that are found in farmers’ markets and CSAs.Â Read on for more information about this guide for seasonal eating and enter to win one of two copies from New Society Publishers!
How does this book inspire us to head out to our local farmers market or to dig into our CSA box and start cooking?Â And – how does your book help us to navigate through the newly discovered foods that we are to find while at the market?
Perhaps the biggest challenge of eating local is that we need to start cooking “ingredients first,” which is the opposite of how we usually plan meals by picking a recipe and then shopping for ingredients. This books reverses the usual cookbook practice, by focusing the recipes on the main ingredient. You can search the index by ingredient and find a recipe for exactly what you’re looking for. This is the perfect book to whip out when you come home from the farmers market or with your weekly CSA with vegetables that look gorgeous but are otherwise only vaguely familiar.
What are some of your favorite recipes in your book and why are they your favorite?
Brett: Gumbo (page 223), because it takes care of so much summer stuff and it’s so malleable. You can use up whatever you have in your fridge with this gumbo.Â I also like the chick pea crepe stuffed with wilted greens (196); because it’s not my recipe. They are delicious, vegetarian, and they’re not something I’d normally do.
Julia: Now that Brett’s got me thinking about using up what’s in the fridge, I have to admit that I really love the Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Vegetables (page 218). Besides being generally delicious, it’s great for using up odd bits – the stray carrot, the half tomato left over from sandwiches or the lone broccoli floret.Â I also really like the Savory Vegetarian Greens with Potatoes (page 208). This is one of Brett’s recipes, and I was skeptical. But I was amazed at how much I love it. I’ll make it at least once a week.
What sets your cookbook apart from the other cookbooks on our bookstore shelves?
Few books go into the same detail with storage tips and produce descriptions. We also deal with much more diverse produce”¦ not just tomatoes, but dozens of kinds of tomatoes. Not just winter squash, but 6 kinds.Â The recipes are generally pretty simple, and they really work.
Why is it important that we eat locally (and seasonally)?
Because it tastes so much better.Â Local produce is grown for flavor, not shelf-life and ship-ability.Â Produce has a chance to fully ripen on the vine instead of on the shipping truck. Cherokee purple tomatoes are one of the best tomatoes out there, but they don’t ship well. If you want a good tomato, you have to buy local.
What kind of home cook is your cookbook tailored for?Â Towards those who are busy or those who have more time to invest in the kitchen?Â And what type and range of recipes can we expect to find?
Most of the recipes are designed for the busy home cook, but there are definitely a few recipes for when you want a more elaborate dish.Â And for those who have more time to invest in the kitchen, the canning and long-term preservation recipes are invaluable to ensuring you have sweet tomatoes and bright herbs in the depths of winter.
To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, October 9, 2016 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:
Do you shop at farmers’ markets or are you a member of a CSA?
Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)
UPDATE 10/22/2016: Congratulations to Martha Creedon and [TBD]!