A culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and the joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food world ethos, especially in Vermont.
I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
—The Dalai Lama
Rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
Buy your snacks from a farmers’ market.
Even when he had a garden in Paris, Thomas Jefferson cultivated Indian corn, “to eat green in our manner, …as quickly after it left the stalk as possible.
—Evan Jones, from American Food
The Mindful Carnivore
The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance
Author: Tovar Cerulli
Publisher: Pegasus Books LLC
Buy Now (or order the book from your local independent bookstore!)
I met Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore, two years ago when he was in the process of publishing his book. It was at a poetry reading in Waitsfield, Vermont. Tovar’s wife was catering the event for friends and Tovar was there too, an interested fellow writer. I guessed that Tovar was a PhD student just from his appearance, and I might have thought he was a vegetarian from his slim build, but I never would have thought of him as a hunter if we hadn’t discussed the subject of his new book, his decision to hunt deer rather then eat commercial meat.
In that moment of surprise, I recognized my prejudice toward hunters and guns. It was one I was ashamed of, living in the state of Vermont, because Vermonters take their hunting very seriously. And for good reason since, for many, deer and other wild animal meat is the source of protein depended upon by many Vermonters.
I remember the first time I was made aware of the local reliance on hunting and the difference between my life as a Connecticut suburban-raised child and the lives of those who lived near us on Stannard Mountain, our summer home in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Not a Sport
One Thanksgiving, traveling on a back road in Vermont, I passed by a small farmhouse, smoke trailing out of the large brick chimney indicating the family was at home. In the front yard, for everyone to see, was a large buck hung on a wooden rack set up to allow the dead animal to bleed. It was on one hand a terrible sight, the large animal slit open and gutted, but on the other, it was so real and raw, it left the indelible impression on me of the importance of hunting. This was not the evidence of a sport, the casual game of wealthy Americans with access to hunting clubs and fine rifles. This was the work of people who would fill their freezer, and possibly the freezers of family members and friends with meat for the winter.
When I met Tovar many years after that first awareness, I really thought I understood. I was completely confident in my attitude about hunting, especially hunting in Vermont. But, there it was, when I was surprised by the subject of his book, my prejudice so apparent I couldn’t deny it. I still believed that hunters were a certain kind of person, a certain kind of man, especially, and one that I didn’t really understand. My love of animals and my fear of guns and violence blended together into a single prejudice. That’s when I knew I had to read Tovar’s book when it was published.
Reading The Mindful Carnivore is a process. At least it was for me. Tovar describes, very winningly, the many hurdles he had to go over to become a meat eater, again, after his doctor recommended meat protein be introduced back into his diet. Being a fisherman from childhood, and having an uncle who is a hunter helped him to come to the conclusion that hunting his own red meat was a better option then running down to the grocery store to buy it.
Slowly, I found myself won over by the sincerity of his experience and the conscience he brought to it while dealing with the everyday hurdles of introducing, first milk products and then fish and chicken into his diet. The mastery of hunting, a long and arduous experience, is, in itself, a reason to read the book.
The Best Reason
There are a lot of good reasons to read The Mindful Carnivore. It is one way to understand the reason for being a vegetarian, or a vegan, as Tovar had been when he was younger. It is also a way to understand the evolution of man from cave to high-rise and why there is some latent urge that many of us have to shoot animals for our dinner.
The best reason to read The Mindful Carnivore, I think, is the emphasis that Tovar places on mindfulness, on the consideration we need to have about everything we eat. In talking about the “enchantment of the uncertainty” of hunting, he brings the reader into a different space than the one we usually reserve for any discussion about food. Twenty-first century humans—most of us— don’t worry about where we will find our next meal, but only what it will be. In The Mindful Carnivore, you will find a change that happens to the things you think you understand, just as I did. And, you will be reminded, again, that everything is connected and this applies to what we ingest, whether it is wild deer meat or meat that comes from a domesticated animal. In truth, it’s a book about “… how we live in the world well,” with consciousness and concern for everything in our lives.
Posted: 1-20-2013SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG’S FEED
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Simple Asian Meals
Simple Asian Meals
Author: Nina Simonds
Publisher: Rodale, $29.99
Who isn’t cooking Asian these days? I just had friends over for a dinner of our grass-fed beef short ribs only to be reminded at the last minute that one of them was a vegetarian. Out came my wok, frozen shrimp from my freezer, some snow peas, green onions, red peppers and a variety of soy, oyster and fish sauces, along with some cooking sherry. I improvised and my hungry friend seemed satisfied with the end result, a quasi-Chinese shrimp stir-fry. But, if I’d had Nina Simond’s book, Simple Asian Meals, I might have cooked a dish that would have made my short-rib eating friends jealous.
The premise of the book is in the title, Simple Asian Cooking, with an emphasis on “simple”. Simonds has a section dedicated to stir-fries, knowing how common it is for Americans to pull out a wok whenever they are craving something fast and simple. The first stir-fry recipe, Gingery Shrimp with Asparagus and Edamame, would have been a perfect choice for my recent dinner party. Not only is the recipe clear and concise, the ginger marinade and sauce bracketed for easy reading, but Simonds has general directions for stir-fry, making this a full-proof event. Boxed at the head of the chapter are the four steps to basic stir-fry. If you’ve ever had the least doubt about the technique for handling ingredients in a wok, these four steps take the mystery out of the process.
There are tips for easy “weeknight cooking” when family stomachs are often growling long before dinner is on the table. Tips on stocking the larder with the right Asian staples, preparing foods that you know you will be using, like rice, roasted peppers, chopped garlic and onions, all kept in the freezer for use at a moments notice, are helpful. I also liked what Simonds calls, The New Asian Pantry, a deconstruction of Asian staples with recommendations on when to use each one and how to store them. I found this a useful review, reminding me, among other things, that Hoisin sauce is made of fermented beans.
Nina Simonds has been traveling in Asia for many years, as her work as an award-winning journalist and cookbook writer attest. I’m still jealous of a trip she and my stepmother took together that was a tour of several Asian countries. Simonds, the tour guide, my stepmother, happily the follower, as they passed through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia eating “deliciously” all the way. I was the satisfied guest at many an Asian inspired meal for months afterward. You will be too, after reading, Simple Asian Meals.
For more information about Nina Simonds, visit her website, www.spicesoflife.com.
You can find the Gingery Shrimp with Asparagus and Edamane on the recipe page.
Posted: 4-17-2012SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG’S FEED
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Food events that have caught my eye.
a La Carte Videos
Bronwyn Dunne and Judith Jones Prepare Two Potato Salads at Bryn Teg. See the recipes
Gateau de Crepes- In Molly’s Kitchen.
See recipe from the Smitten Kitchen
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- It’s Time for an Organic Revolution! - Sep 2014
- Food for the Soul as well as the Body: Shojin Ryori - Aug 2014
- The Venerable Shojin Ryori Cuisine of Japan by Hiroko Shimbo - Aug 2014
- Better than Summer Camp: Summer Programs in Cheese Making, Fermentation, Charcuterie, Draft Horse Farming & Food Writing at Sterling College - May 2014
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- A Very Important Birthday: Judith Jones Celebrates Her 90th Birthday! - Mar 2014
- A Book Is On Its Way! As my interest in local farming has grown, I find myself writing a book… - Jan 2014
- After the Barn Fire Fundraiser Dinner to Benefit Maple Wind Farm – Tues, Jan 28 at Hinesburgh Public House - Jan 2014
- Sign Up for Blog Updates from In the Kitchen with Bronwyn & We’ll Donate $2 to the VT Foodbank for each subscription through Dec 31! - Nov 2013
- A Recipe for the Holidays from Shelburne Farms - Nov 2013
- When the Farm is a School: Shelburne Farms - Nov 2013
- Bronwyn Jones Dunne Selected by IACP as Featured Blogger - Nov 2013
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- The Spirit of Vermont at the 2013 UVM Food Sustainability Summit - Jul 2013
- My Shangri-La: A Weekend at Twin Farms Resort - Jun 2013
- Twin Farms’ Gluten-Free Soufflé Pancake Recipe - Jun 2013
- Remarkable Recipes, Remarkable Women - Apr 2013
- Food & Art at Twin Farms - Apr 2013
- Video of Bronwyn Dunne & Judith Jones Preparing Potato Salads at BrynTeg - Mar 2013
- Potatoes from Peru: An Ancestral Flavor Reclaimed - Mar 2013
- Cookbook Author Joan Nathan’s 70th Birthday Party - Feb 2013
- Subscribe to my Blog by March 31 to Benefit the VT Foodbank! - Feb 2013
- The Mindful Carnivore - Jan 2013
- An Adventure in Cooking, Food & Healthy Living… - Jan 2013
- Caledonia Spirits & Winery: The Honey Man’s Dream - Dec 2012
- A Spoonful of Fresh Maple Yogurt—Farmers to You Delivers! - Dec 2012
- Bronwyn Featured in Best of Burlington - Dec 2012
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- Two Last Meals, Part 2: Breakfast at The Inn at Shelburne Farms - Nov 2012
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- Cedar Circle Farm’s 2012 Heirloom Tomato Guide - Oct 2012
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- Cooking with Evan Jones: My Father’s Recipes, Part 3 of 4 - Jun 2012
- Cooking with Evan Jones: My Father’s Recipes, Part 2 of 4 - May 2012
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