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The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 24, 2011
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"This certainly isn't the first memoir about living la vida locavore, and while its subtitle might inspire a little eye-rolling, the first page lets readers know that the author's scenario is decidedly not contrived. She's middle-aged, suddenly alone and unemployed, and endearing in her frankness about her plight and her financial fears. Though she's not a professionally trained cook, Mather is a longtime food writer and she knows her way around the kitchen. The recipes that accompany her earnest prose are lovely, simple, and just-gourmet-enough. Entries such as whole strawberries in balsamic-black pepper syrup; butternut squash with honey, cherry vinegar, and chipotle; and cardamom-coffee toffee bars are intriguing yet approachable, and they all have a reason, seasonal or otherwise, for being in the book. She shares kitchen wisdom, from the anecdotal ("Get the water on to boil before you pick the corn, and then sprint back to the house with it, shucking as you run") to the practical, such as instructions for making fromage blanc and fresh chevre. (July)"
—Publishers Weekly, 5/16/11
“All Americans know what the good life is supposed to be--what brands you need, how big a house. So Robin Mather’s fine book is charmingly subversive--a lovely reminder of, and guide to, the things that really count.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, founder of 350.org
“Can local food work? How does it work? Can my kitchen really be economically viable? The Feast Nearby lovingly and practically illustrates how localization works. Robin Mather opens her heart--indeed, bares her soul--in this captivating journey that affirms everything doable and beautiful about living and eating locally. Everyone should read this book.”
—Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm, author of You Can Farm
“Suddenly out of a job and out of a marriage, food writer Robin Mather retreats to her tiny cabin in the Michigan woods. But instead of wallowing in despair, Mather embraces her new life, its many challenges and also its rewards--learning to live and cook frugally and sharing her days with a cast of endearing companions, both human and animal. The Feast Nearby is much more than a cookbook. It is a moving account, in essays, of Mather’s determination to find beauty--even luxury--in life’s simplest offerings. It is a book of honest prose and simple, honest recipes that celebrate the gifts of each season.”
—Domenica Marchetti, author of The Glorious Pasta of Italy
“Robin Mather invites us along on an extraordinary journey: a yearlong migration from loss to discovery, from her familiar life to a new world of satisfaction and joy. Reluctantly trading job, marriage, and city life for a new beginning in a lakeside cottage, she learns to live bountifully and generously on little money by focusing on the kitchen, and by relying on neighbors and friends. If you want to learn about preserving food, making chèvre, and raising chickens, here’s your delicious hands-on primer. If you simply want a moving story handsomely told, this is your book, too. You’ll end up wonderfully fed, body and soul, and clear on what it means to live well.”
—Nancie McDermott, author of Southern Pies
About the Author
Mather was the food editor of the Detroit News, a senior writer at Cooking Light magazine, and most recently, a staff reporter for the food section of the Chicago Tribune. She also started and ran a small goat dairy from 1995 to 2000 in Mississippi. Her first book, A Garden of Unearthly Delights: Bioengineering and the Future of Food, was the first to expose genetic modification of crops and livestock (and its consequences for the food supply) for a broad market. She lives in a 650-square-foot cottage on a small lake in southwest Michigan, where she is eight miles from the nearest street light. Visit her online at thefeastnearby.com.
Top Customer Reviews
This lovely book contains more of the same from Robin Mather, with a heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant story to round out the carefully thought out recipes that accompany each chapter. I plan on using it as a template for the rest of the year, and armed with the knowledge Robin gives on shopping and technique, I can try to cook seasonally.
Robin Mather, along with being a great cook, is a very good writer, graceful and deliberate with her words. Reading this book is like having a relaxed conversation with your (much smarter and more articulate) good friend. She makes a gentle point about what we are doing to ourselves with our over-indulged palates when there are wonderful things to savor with every month. Rural Michigan must seem like a winter wasteland for fresh produce, Robin proves this wrong.
I am glad Robin emerged from her terrible horrible year successfully, and am looking forward to reading more (and more) from this wonderful writer. Buy this book, buy this book for your foodie friends.
(Not really Robert S. Ingalls but his happily cooking wife Barbara)
Robin Mather is a seasoned food writer and editor, having written 30 years for papers such as Chicago Tribune and The Detroit News and now at Mother Earth News. The Feast Nearby is her second book; the first, published in 1995, Garden of Unearthly Delight: Bioengineering and the Future of Food, perhaps before its time, discussing the two sides of eating locally or eating genetically modified foods.
The book caught my attention for several reasons. I have been eating predominantly locally grown, organic foods for some years now, and find myself as enthused about this food adventure today as I was when I first started. More so. I still can't believe what I've been missing most of my life in terms of culinary joy. But I was also intrigued because the cottage to which Mathers moved was in the neighborhood where I'd lived once--near Delton, in Michigan's Barry County.
I was also curious about Mather's claim to eat local and organic foods on $40 a week. Not that I am not already a believer. I don't spend much either, and I don't even can and preserve, but I do hear that complaint more often than I can count--that eating organic is too expensive. I'm still baffled by that. I spend less on groceries today than I did when I bought my food at the supermarket, packaged and wrapped.
Cooking from scratch is almost always less expensive. Add to that the joys of cooking with friends and family in the kitchen and at the table and, well, you get the idea of real value for your food dollar.Read more ›
One of my more difficult decisions has been how will I cope with the fact that everyone I have been reading about raises their own animals to slaughter? I love animals too much to know them personally in my life and on my table. Robin raises a small flock of chickens for their eggs and buys her table chickens already processed from a local source. Her lake property is too shady to grow fruits and vegetables but she manages a dish herb garden in a sunnier spot and has been blessed with neighbors that share their garden bounty with her (recieving the fruits of her talents - canned salsa's, jams, baked goods, knitted hats and such). She buys everything she possibly can from local sources or orders it from small farms and fair-trade like sources. She provides much appreciated advice on how to obtain the best foodstuffs such as humanely raised meat, growth hormone-less milk, local milled gains and organic fruits and vegetables for what she still needs to purchase.
I was encouraged to read how she figured out the quanties of canned/dried/frozen supplies she would need throughout the year and how she was able to plan the cost of these necessities. Ms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is much more of a cook book than I expected. Written well, but I'm a little disappointed.Published 22 days ago by JE
Do not read this while trying to lose weight. I had to put it away until I reach my weight goal. I like the personal quips between recipes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by neverlost4good
Not at all what you would expect from the title. I was hoping to hear more about her trials and successes coping with her circumstances and small budget but it was overly... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cortney
I loved this book, but I might be a little biased since I'm from rural Michigan and super interesting in a self sustainable lifestyle. It's a great little book, and very inspiring. Read morePublished 6 months ago by HH
I love to read of places familiar and close to home. It makes me open my eyes and want to explore.Published 8 months ago by Gkuklo