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Customer Review

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crisco and Chanterelles, May 4, 2012
This review is from: The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food (Hardcover)
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It does seem as if farm-to-table cookbooks have become as ubiquitous as dandelions. Ian Knauer's The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food is an appealing entry with an engaging narrative about working a farm that belonged to his Pennsylvania grandparents. I suspect that the photography, by the Canal House series writers Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, is every bit as gorgeous as the black and white proofs in my review copy seem to promise.

And now to the recipes (including two for dandelions). I won't review a cookbook without making a serious effort to try a range of recipes. Knauer's choices are an eclectic bunch, from a recipe for baking powder biscuits straight out of his grandmother's recipe box (Crisco!) to a recipe for a roast chicken basted and finished with wheat beer. The biscuits were light and tasty, the chicken perfectly pleasant, with plenty of liquid to moisten the leftovers. Likewise, a rhubarb crostata was nice, if unexceptional, while short ribs with dried fruit was on the rich and heavy side. Guests took seconds on the tart but not the ribs. Raisin-caper broccoli was good, but does the world need another recipe for lemon pudding cake or molasses raisin cookies? I think I liked the Dandelion Greens with Garlic, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins the best of all.

I doubt I'll reach for this book very much. My go-to cookbooks when the garden is bursting are Marian Morash's sensibly arranged (by vegetable) Victory Garden Cookbook, Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and Alice Waters's The Art of Simple Food. What I like about these three books is that so many of the recipes are delicious and simple, whereas some of the non-Grandma ones in The Farm strike me as a bit contrived. It must be difficult to write a new cookbook that focuses on seasonal produce that is so good that it needs little adornment (unless it's the woodchuck, the subject of one amusing recipe). The truth is that beautiful produce in season and the hard-working home gardeners that labor to produce it deserve a minimum of fuss.

M. Feldman
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2012 1:37:51 PM PDT
Thanks for providing such an excellent review of this cookbook as well as others that you thought are more worthwhile. I like more simplistic recipes that allow the fresh veggies to shine through. So based upon this and the other less favorable review, I think I'll pass.
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