October Book Review: Cooking Close To Home


I grew up here in Vermont, but I am perennially amazed at how much productivity can be stuffed into our short growing season. In a recent conversation with a farmer, we marveled together at how vigorously vegetable gardens and farms grow and yield such great bounty for our little northern state.As if they know how short their lives will be, these faithful vegetative friends work tremendously hard, giving up their best and most beautiful efforts, only to collapse at this time of the year, all leggy, exhausted, yellowing and damp.

Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz saw an opportunity to do just that when they wrote and self-published their cookbook, Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes in 2009. Full of very appetizing color photos and informative sidebars called “Harvest Hints”, Imrie and Jarmusz bring seasonal treats into my kitchen, using what is good, when it is at its best.

The book is divided into dish types: apps, soups, salads, entrees, veggies, and desserts. There is a special section dedicated to pizza and pasta, as well as one titled “Filling the Pantry” for those who want to extend the harvest into the freezer and onto the shelf. Within each of these sections, the book divides recipes into seasonal profiles, for example, Creamy Asparagus Brie Soup is a Spring recipe, while the Warm Red Potato Salad with Dill finds its home in Summer.

Standout recipes included Roasted Lamb with Garlic and Mint (Fall), Pumpkin Cheddar Ale Soup (Fall), Blueberry Sour Cream Granola Tart (Summer), Woodland Mushrooms with Black Pepper Fettuccine (Winter), and Radicchio, Broccoli and Pear Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing (Summer).By far, our favorites were the Parmesean Crusted Tomato Pudding (Summer), a custardless bread pudding, like a warm and toasty panzanella, and the Vermont Vegetable New Year Rolls (Winter), crispy pan fried egg rolls which we simply couldn’t stop eating.

With this book tucked under one arm, and my bulging market bag in the other, I feel ready to keep up with the season’s bounty, whatever the weather.

“Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes” by Diane Imrie & Richard Jarmusz. Photos by Andrew Wellman. Published by the authors, 2009. 240 pages, color photos.

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