From the author, Robin Burnside
For most of us, recipes are the beginning of the creative process in the kitchen. Enticing us to try new foods, teaching us useful techniques and inspiring beautiful presentations. They give us a framework to stretch ourselves into the unknown. When I’m at the farmers’ market I often hear people asking, “What do I do with these?” pointing to piles of multicolored winter squash, baskets of kiwi fruits or bunches of red chard and Russian kale. While I make my selections from the beautifully displayed produce, suggestions and recipes flow freely between customers and the farmers, as we marvel at their hard work and the season’s bounty. This is where many of my recipe ideas are birthed and old family favorites revisited as the seasons change. Fresh produce from the garden, orchard and our local farmers’ market keep me inspired and well nourished with nutritious food through out the year.
Finding the best quality ingredients is always the first priority when choosing a recipe, so I usually let the garden lead the way. Bouquets of rainbow chard, vine-ripened tomatoes and ripe, juicy strawberries fuel my passion in the kitchen. Have you ever tasted a sun-kissed tree-ripened plum grown with organic compost and love? Yum! I've found that the flavor of organically grown produce tastes considerably better than the same commercially grown variety. And most important, it is healthier for your family and the planet.
Before the industrialization of farming and food distribution, cooks around the world created dishes that were a reflection of their environment, history and personal preferences. Times have changed, but gardens today still grow many of the same kinds of produce our ancestors enjoyed. There are only so many edible whole foods in the world and each culture uses many of the same basic ingredients, often with distinctly different outcomes. The regional and seasonal variations inspired cooks to develop distinctive flavors from their local offerings. Today, with technology and transportation, we can obtain most any kind of food year-round and our choices have expanded accordingly. I prefer to shop locally and minimize my purchases of foods that come from afar. Farmers’ markets have blossomed in every little town across the country, inspiring cooks with fresh-picked organic produce and other farm-fresh products. These valuable community resources are improving our health with nutrient-dense foods and can go a long way towards lowering the overall costs of feeding a family. The flavor and nutrition of locally grown fruits and vegetables is far superior to produce that has been shipped from somewhere else and held in cold storage for days, weeks or months. Support your local farmers’ market with weekly visits and choose from a wide array of seasonal offerings, sold at the lowest price you’ll find anywhere. Get to know the farmers who grow your food and co-create a sustainable food supply that will nourish and support your community for future generations. If you can possibly plant a garden, or even just a few little pots of herbs and greens, do it!
Today we enjoy dishes from many different cultures and recipes are often needed to familiarize us with a variety of new ingredients, techniques and flavors. Once acquainted with a particular dish, we can expand beyond the recipe, making it our own by adjusting the ingredients to reflect personal preferences and seasonal variations. Recipes are a good beginning. Finding your own way with the food and moving beyond the recipes is what creative cooking is all about. The measurements in these recipes are only guidelines, except for the leavenings and wet to dry ratio in baked goods. The amounts given are not fixed on stone and most of the ingredients can be adjusted to account for personal tastes. The sizes of fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be quite different. For example, small onions are often firmer and sweeter than the larger ones and heirloom tomatoes can be any size and shape. I have intentionally written these recipes with the amounts given by volume for the best balance of ingredients. When a recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped onions, just translate the amount into whatever size onions you have. It is really very simple to do with fresh produce, as well as other foods, and with a little practice you’ll be “eyeballing” the measurements like the pros.
The Homesteader’s Kitchen will show you how easy it is to integrate traditional flavors from around the world into tasty dishes made with wholesome ingredients, and your creative touch. All good recipes begin with the highest-quality ingredients, and the finished product, when mindfully prepared will taste wonderful. It’s as pure and simple as that. With the recipes in this book, you’ll learn how easy it is to prepare flavorful whole foods meals in the comfort of your own cozy kitchen.