Thursday, December 15, 2011

dinner from a chef

After my most recent trip to the library, I came home with the usual pile of books that can be sorted into 'Food Books' and 'Baby Books.'  {Just to head-off anticipated questions, we're not trying to "start a family" right now ... although of course we are a family even without children but I think you get the meaning I'm getting at, no?}.

On the top of my 'Food Books' pile, was a little audio version of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I am probably one of the few who is very enthused with the local, clean food movement who has not read the book that preceded this one, The Omnivore's Dilemma.  While I plan to pick it up in the future, I also know plenty of the wrong that he writes about and am already convinced it's not a good thing. 

Enter: In Defense of Food.  This book was intended to be a follow-up to the Dilemma and offer some ideas of where we should go from the point of "lots of bad things are happening in the industrial food world."  Let me just say that I got this audio book simply to entertain me while I was knitting furiously and instead I listened intently and vowed multiple times during the listening to change my lifestyle and tell the whole world!  {When ideas strike me as true I get rather passionate :-)}.

I would beg you to please read this book (traveling for Christmas?  Take it with you!).  I'll try not to make it out to be the most awesome thing ever, but he draws many aspects of food and culture into his writing that I think strike at the core of what needs to change and why and he does so without sounding too much like a crazy "you must eat local, organic and not to is sinful" kind of person.  If you want to hear him give a sort of short summary of the book, watch this video.

All this to say, I became much more highly motivated to make good, real food and enjoy, even savor it!  Thankfully I had checked out another book to help in such a quest: Harvest to Heat.

The pictures are gorgeous - the stories of chefs and farmers are enchanting - the titles of the recipes make your mouth water {they are written by famous chefs, after all} - the foreword is written by Alice Waters.

My highly motivated, Saturday-morning-fresh self picked many of our meals for this week from this book - including last night's supper of "Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Braised Plums and Crumbly Blue Cheese."

Hours after commencing, we enjoyed the product of our (rather significant) labor.  A dish that could have been served  - albeit, not made by me - in some fancy locavore restaurant!    Delicious?  That wouldn't be the exact word I'd choose - an interesting taste experience - would be more like it.

More importantly, it was a meal that reminded me that it is worth it to spend hours cooking from scratch, using foods that are full of nourishment for both body and spirit.  I am by no means a gourmand, but I do enjoy putting effort into something that I can be proud of and that my little two person family can take pleasure in.

What have you been cooking these days?  Any delicious ideas to share?


  1. Hey, ain't nothing wrong with having your baby philosophies in order ahead of time! Also, I love Gnocchi, that looks yummy!

  2. I've become addicted to this particular tomato soup:

    I substitute yogurt for cream, but other than that, I pretty much follow the recipe.

  3. I would have to say the gnocchi tasted better as leftovers. I think it was because we had too much plum and sauce on it the first time through. The leftovers were more balanced and you could really taste the potato/cheese/sauce as a balance, rather than just intense plumness.