By Judith Fertig
I've driven through Ohio, stopped off in Missouri to see the Gateway to the West once and, when I was about 5, traveled to Illinois with my momma. (For the record, we arrived in Illinois on the tail end of an ice storm, and I don't think I've ever been so cold in my life.) But I've never really experienced the Midwest nor have I ever thought I'd want to visit the Midwest - until now.
Judith Fertig's Heartland: The Cookbook has made the Midwest come alive in my mind. With her heartfelt, descriptive stories of farm life and big beautiful photos I can't help but want to make every single recipe in this book and drive straight to Kansas as soon as I'm done. Pantry staples welcome you in the beginning of the book, main dishes fill out the middle and sweet endings bring everything full circle. This book is filled with recipes that focus on wholesome ingredients (no box mixes here!). But this cookbook is filled with more than just great recipes.
"Midwesterners have a grounded sense of who they are because they're still close to the land," Fertig writes in her introduction. She describes the stories behind the recipes and even offers sidebars on where to find great Midwestern ingredients. (Looking for a good blue cheese? There's a farm in Newton, Iowa, that's been producing the stuff since 1941.)
I haven't made my way through all of the recipes in this beautiful 265-page book yet, but I've spent plenty of nights thumbing through the pages, savoring the stories and drooling over the photos. And the only complaint I have about this book is that it doesn't include nutritional information for the recipes. I know, I know, I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to reading food labels; not everyone is interested in knowing these details. So I can't say the lack of this information is a reason not to add this book to your collection. Besides, when you can whip up a no-knead bread as good as this, do you really need to know how many calories are in every slice? Whether you make it in the Southeast or across the Atlantic Ocean, you can take pride knowing it was made with simple, good-for-you ingredients. And if you want to pretend you're in the Midwest when you pull the beautiful, honey-fragrant loaves out of the oven, that works, too.
|No-Knead Clover Honey Bread|
Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge to write this review. I received no monetary compensation; all thoughts are mine alone.