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To Eat: A Country Life Hardcover – June 11, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A pig named Morose, a bull called Hadrian, recipes for carrot cake and oxtail stew, the advantages of cold storage, and the appeal of cippolini onions. Such is the evidence of a life lived well and deliberately, a commitment Eck and his partner, Winterrowd, made early on in their 42-year personal and professional relationship. In this bittersweet memoir, Eck’s preface reveals that Winterrowd died before the book was completed; the afterword should come complete with hankies. In between are endearing and educational glimpses into their gardening practices and gustatory preferences, their peripatetic journeys and permanent joys. Compost is dug, seed catalogs studied, sapling trees planted with the most hopeful of intentions. Readers will delight in this exuberant paean to the pleasures and benefits of growing one’s own food, elegiac homage to how Eck and Winterrowd celebrated the bounty such labors bestowed, and Eck’s reflections on daily changes and seasonal challenges at Vermont’s North Hill Farm. Eck and Winterrowd will inspire even the most reluctant gardeners to take steps to harvest a more rewarding life. --Carol Haggas

Review

Praise for To Eat:

“The vegetable garden at North Hill always enchants me, and therefore it is a particular pleasure to read of its bounty in this last collaboration between Joe and Wayne.” —Page Dickey, author of Embroidered Ground

To Eat: A Country Life, Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd’s last book together (Winterrowd died in 2010), is an artful tribute to their 7-acre southern Vermont garden and their passion for raising, preparing and eating food together. Even lettuce becomes luxuriant in their exuberant and informative hands. Bobbi Angell’s drawings and Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta’s recipes, along with Eck and Winterrowd’s elegant prose, take readers through the northern New England seasons, featuring one food per chapter. The book is seasoned with history, anecdotes and abundant practical advice, and with reverence for land and tradition: ‘the deepest reward of a country life is that its deliberate embrace of a small conserving ethic opens one to the rhythms, values, habits and flavors of another time.’ Whether or not you garden, To Eat is a vicarious pleasure.” —Deb Baker, The Concord Monitor

“Part memoir, part cookbook, part gardening book, To Eat: A Country Life is a delight. Fans of the authors’ previous books, among them A Year at North Hill: Four Seasons in a Vermont Garden and Our Life in Gardens, will find similar rewards in the latest offering in which educated musings on country life and growing tips are delivered in prose more akin to poetry and literature . . . They, and their writing, are to gardening what M.F.K. Fisher was to food: a revelation . . . The book brings both laughter and tears. The afterword is particularly solemn. Wayne Winterrowd died in 2010 in the middle of writing the book, and it will be the last joint effort by the pair. Loss, in life and in the garden, is a bitter truth.” —Erinn Beth Langille, Macleans

“For foodies as much as for gardeners, this savory collection of anecdotes about farming is a testament to the joy and reward of labor and achievement … Authors Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd describe how they spent decades raising various crops in southern Vermont. They offer tips on soil as well as recipes for preparing fresh-grown food. It is hard not to appreciate beets or salivate over illustrator Bobbi Angell’s descriptions of Winterrowd’s blueberry pie.” —Gary M. Kramer, Instinct Magazine

“These elegant reflections on gardening and the vegetables and fruits they grow, harvest, and eat over four seasons offer a joyous celebration of our connection to food and the Earth . . . Gardeners and cooks should have a copy of this book, beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell and with recipes by Beatrice Tosti de Valminuta, in their kitchens, next to their garden tools, or on their nightstands.” —Publishers Weekly

“A pig named Morose, a bull called Hadrian, recipes for carrot cake and oxtail stew, the advantages of cold storage, and the appeal of cippolini onions. Such is the evidence of a life lived well and deliberately, a commitment Eck and his partner, Winterrowd, made early on in their 42-year personal and professional relationship. In this bittersweet memoir, Eck’s preface reveals that Winterrowd died before the book was completed; the afterword should come complete with hankies. In between are endearing and educational glimpses into their gardening practices and gustatory preferences, their peripatetic journeys and permanent joys . . . Readers will delight in this exuberant paean to the pleasures and benefits of growing one’s own food, elegiac homage to how Eck and Winterrowd celebrated the bounty such labors bestowed, and Eck’s reflections on daily changes and seasonal challenges at Vermont’s North Hill Farm. Eck and Winterrowd will inspire even the most reluctant gardeners to take steps to harvest a more rewarding life.” –Carol Haggas, Booklist

“Here, the authors plant a lifetime of knowledge in this collection of short essays, each one focused on a different edible product of their land and labor. Far from the popular trend of urbanites-turned-farmers-turned-writers, however, Eck and Winterrowd bring more than 40 years of experience to the table, championing “the vital human need” to witness hard work and achievement united by dirt and patience. Unlike other textbook-dry treatises on the do’s and don’ts of gardening, the writing here is as rich as dark soil. Mixed in with cultural and botanical histories of apples, asparagus and beets are practical tips and gardening secrets for the seasoned and beginner gardener alike. The authors colorfully render daily life with the companionship of pigs, hens and cows, and the home cook finds bounty here too; rare recipes, sourced from Italian grandmothers, first-century cookbooks and other corners of the authors’ well-traveled lives, pepper the pages. Eck and Winterrowd celebrate good eating and good living with a kind of reverence reminiscent of Wendell Berry and a sensuality that evokes M.F.K. Fisher. Notably, Winterrowd died before the book’s publication, and Eck’s obvious grief and heartache strike a quiet but heavy chord. It’s a memoir about falling in love continuously, season after season, and a lesson in caring tenderly for each other and the land. Full and fragrant, this book will satisfy the appetite of anyone with a taste for simple pleasures.” —Kirkus

“A beautiful, passionately conceived memoir steeped in flora, fauna, and a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, all cultivated with enduring love and tenderness.” —Jim Piechota, The Bay Area Reporter

“An unusual and introspective guide to growing and cooking one's own food filled with anecdotes of [the authors’] remarkable journey back to the earth.” —Amy J. Barry, The Day

“[To Eat is] a tribute to gardening and to knowing what’s really on your plate . . . Partly a love letter to the earth, and partly a paean to good eating, To Eat is one of those delicious little books that, like a great meal, you’ll want to savor. With the circumspection of veteran gardeners, New England authors Joe Eck and the late Wayne Winterrowd share their observations about growing plants, livestock, and together. I took great delight in their quietly humorous stories of being gentlemen farmers; if you’re a gardener, you’ll find solid tips in each quick-to-read chapter and if you’re a gourmand, you’ll drool at the recipes here, too. At just under two hundred pages, this book will last you through two or three quick lunches or meal-preps, and it may give you some new ideas. So grab To Eat and take a bite.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, Naples Daily News

“[To Eat is a] delightful discussion of various vegetables, poultry and animals on their North Hill Farm in Vermont. Included are several intriguing recipes. The book is filled with great advice—based on 30 years experience—for growing leeks, Meyer lemons, fingerling potatoes, Belgian endive, Egyptian onions and the more mundane but essential carrots, chard, radishes and cucumbers. It’s a book you can savor chapter by chapter, visualizing a huge garden atop a Vermont hill nestled next to the chicken coop and the barn for the pigs and cattle.” —Cheryl B. Wilson, Daily New Hampshire Gazette

Praise for Our Life in Gardens

“This is a generous, thoughtful, inspiring book . . . It’s in the descriptions of the day-to-day labor of gardening that this book is so moving . . . The pleasures revealed in this beautiful book are countless.” —Dominique Browning, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374278326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374278328
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Her illustrations here are wonderful.
mbeth
Many people who've read it rate it very highly, and I understand why.
B. Frei
In most cases, say the authors, add to the evening's salad.
Owl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Owl on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mortgage the cat, if you must, to get this gentle book.

You will be reading mostly about a country life in Vermont; about two lives intertwined for over 40 years; about what was grown on their Vermont farm, North Hill; and, when it comes to eating, about a mostly vegetable love.

The country life unfolded on the farm created by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd, located near a village settled in the older time by the likes of the Birches and the Bramberries and then by Italians drawn to the furniture factory. In earlier books, such as "Our Lives in Gardens," Joe and Wayne (one gets to a first-name basis with writers who tell of raising chickens in their parquet-floored first home, once the ballroom of a Boston mansion) have shared their gardening knowledge in efforts to live, seasonally, from their land. And their curiousity (as insatiable as that of the Elephant's Child), their triumphs (including growing the rare blue Himalayan poppy), and their lives (with tantalizing mentions of wines & eating).

Much of North Hill was described in "Our Lives in Gardens"---rock gardens and roses, plantings, friends, and feastings through the unmistakable seasons of Vermont. "To Eat" shares in closer focus the foods they grew and some of what they did with this bounty. They honor the piggery with comments on our linguistic transitions from pig to pork, from living animal to (in this case) Chicharrones, and do eloquent homage to the cowery, from veal to Coda alla Vaccinera. A three page chapter celebrates the hens, who become (as old hens), Chicken Stew with Unborn Eggs.

This is a relatively slender book totalling 194 pages.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mohan Babu K on November 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
To Eat explores the quaint notion of modern day "subsistence farming." The authors explain how passionate hobbyists with a few acres of fertile land can sustain themselves.

The narrative is highly readable and divided into sections focused on vegetables, and farm animals. At the end of each chapter, authors highlight their favorite recopies using the crop described in the chapter.

A good book for those who are interested to know where "food" comes from, or at least used to come from before the pervasiveness of industrial agriculture
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By Nom de plume on November 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. It is a combination love story and escape to the wonderful and challenging gardener's life in Vermont.
In a recent trip we visited the home of Joe Eck. His partner is gone now, but having read some of his books I could walk
the paths and enjoy the arches made of saplings, etc. that together they built over the years. I dream of having acres
to plant. To someone without those interests I'm not sure it would be that wonderful. Oh, and they even have recipes!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a long time fan of Bobbi Angell's work. Her illustrations here are wonderful. I wish there were more of them. Beyond that, the writing was a real treat. Interesting insights and nice weaving together of plants as food and the cultivation of it.
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