With grace, humor, and irresistible recipes, the author of Girl Sleuth
takes us on her journey as an amateur chef, amateur farmer, and amateur parent Melanie Rehak was always a passionate cook and food lover. Since reading the likes of Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Wendell Berry, she'd tried to eat thoughtfully as well. But after the birth of her son, Jules, she wanted to know more: What mattered most, organic or local? Who were these local farmers? Was it possible to be an ethical consumer and still revel in the delights of food? And why wouldn't Jules eat anything, organic or not? Eating for Beginners
details the year she spent discovering what how to be an eater and a parent in today's increasingly complicated world. She joined the kitchen staff at applewood, a small restaurant owned by a young couple committed to using locally grown food, and worked on some of the farms that supplied it. Between prepping the nightly menu, milking goats, and sorting beans, Rehak gained an understanding of her own about what to eat and why. (It didn't hurt that, along the way, even the most dedicated organic farmers admitted that their children sometimes ate McDonald's.) And as we follow her on her quest to find the pleasure in doing the right thing--and become a better cook in the bargain--we too will make our peace with food.
A Recipe From Eating for Beginners: Carrot Purée
- 1 pound carrots
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash or peel the carrots and chop them roughly; circles are fine.
2. Place carrots and butter in a frying pan (preferably not nonstick) over medium heat.
3. As butter melts, stir constantly so that the carrots caramelize and don't stick to the pan. You want them brown but not burned--about fifteen minutes.
4. When carrots are nicely caramelized, remove them to a blender and add heavy cream.
5. Blend on low, pressing carrot mixture down as it purées, so that it all gets blended together. If it seems too thick, you can add a bit more heavy cream to loosen it up (this is really personal preference, but you don't want it too runny).
6. Remove the carrot purée to a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste, folding it in as you go.
From Publishers Weekly
Rehak (Girl Sleuth), a Brooklyn resident and new mom, spent a year toiling delightfully inside the kitchen of a neighboring restaurant to get a handle on where the food we consume really comes from. Volunteering to help long hours at Applewood, a small restaurant in Brooklyn owed by trained chefs Laura and David Shea and devoted to the idea of supporting local farmers and sustainable agriculture, Rehak was able to observe and participate in the "choices and the compromises" of gathering, preparing, and cooking the food we consumers pay good money to eat. At the same time as she manned the garde-manger station, preparing aesthetically pleasing salads and cold appetizers, Rehak had to deal with her finicky toddler, Jules, at home as he refused to eat even toast. Eventually, Rehak was happily promoted to the fish station, and Jules took a bite of a chicken leg. By turns, Rehak proved game at making cheese at a diary farm in Connecticut, sorting beans at an organic vegetable farm in Hamden, N.Y., and, hilariously, getting violently seasick while catching monkfish aboard a lobster boat off Long Beach Island. Lovely recipes at the end of each chapter display her culinary achievements. As part of a welcome, continuing spate of recent works concerned with rehabilitating American eaters, Rehak's chronicle is pleasantly lowkey, generous, and nondidactic.
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