Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cookbooks: The Homesteader’s Kitchen by Robin Burnside

If the homespun quality of Robin Burnside’s The Homesteader’s Kitchen (Gibbs Smith) seems a little disingenuous, there’s a reason for that; and we’re all the richer for it.

While Burnside has been living aspects of the homesteader’s life in Carmel, California, since 1991, there’s more at play here than that. Burnside is a kitchen pro, who happens -- also and genuinely -- to care about fresh and wholesome foods, simply prepared. Burnside was the co-founder, chef and baker at Carmel Café and Big Sur’s Café Amphora and she ran the food services at the Esalen Institute for five years. Burnside’s book seems to speak of all of these aspects of her life: the caring parent and grandparent, the professional foodie, the caring Californian, deeply engaged with preserving the Earth and her flavors. As Burnside says in her introduction:
This book is the fruit of my personal and professional journey preparing nutritious and delicious food for myself, my family, and my community -- a passion that began in my teens and evolved in a forty-year culinary career.
The Homesteader’s Kitchen is filled with recipes and lore about fresh and contemporary food as perfected by Burnside and her contemporaries in California over the last three decades. Influences are international and varied, flavors strong and rich. The recipes reach into all aspects of kitchen preparation, but there is a strong, if unstated, vegetarian component to the book and the section that deals with meat and fish is both small and very good.

It strikes me that this is food the way most of us in the west are enjoying it now: fresh, focused and thoughtful. With an emphasis on wonderful ingredients and big flavors. The Homesteader’s Kitchen is a very good book. ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.



Anonymous Bethany said...

Hi Linda, sorry to resurrect this old post but have you tried any of the recipes in the cookbook? I'm thinking of buying it and just trying to find feedback on what the results can be :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:30:00 PM PDT  

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