Monday, December 5, 2016

In Winter's Kitchen by Beth Dooley, Reviewed

One of the reasons I was drawn to In Winter's Kitchen is because, like author Beth Dooley, my late husband was a native of New Jersey. He came to St. Louis when I was but a girl of 12 to begin his career as a professor at the University of Missouri. I didn't know him at the time, but he eventually confessed to me that he expected this part of the country to be pretty desolate. Easterners, he told me, really didn't think much existed west of Pennsylvania. I honestly think he expected to see covered wagons. He was pleasantly surprised, in a method similar to Dooley, both discovering that the center of the country has plenty to offer.

In Winter's Kitchen is more than a simple food memoir. This is the type of book that I was expecting to read, but I was wrong. This book is a journey for the reader, taking it step-by-step along with Dooley as her eyes are opened to food and food culture in her new home of Minnesota. I don't think I've ever learned so much about food in one book, and so fully enjoyed myself while doing it.

The book is divided into sections, each focusing on a specific food: apples, wheat, potatoes, beans and carrots, sweet potatoes, cranberries, chestnuts, corn, milk, cheese and butter, turkey, and wild rice. Reading this book during the autumn season when I was preparing for Thanksgiving just added to my enjoyment. Naturally I had to try some of the recipes, making use of the recipes for turkey gravy and cranberries, both of which were very much enjoyed by my family last month. As I was reading this book, learning so much about food, seed saving, and sustainability, I couldn't help but think this is the type of book that should be used as a text in high school classes. We teach our children so many things that, while important, have nothing to do with the basics of life.

In Winter's Kitchen is engaging and beautifully written. It is a lovely tribute to the people of Minnesota and their local cuisine. It is a joy to meet the people behind the food -- Native American wild rice harvesters, goat cheese farmers, sweet potato growers, etc. -- who are much more fascinating than you are likely to believe. I loved reading about a Vice President of marketing who put up pickles on an old stove in his garage while watching Viking games, perhaps because it sounded so much like me. Buy this book, read this book, and then become your own researcher into your local food culture. I cannot recommend it enough.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Love the cover of the cookbook and it looks to be full of lovely reads. Glad you were able to enjoy it and try some of the recipes!