Go Beyond Farm-to-Table With The Nourished Kitchen

All photos by Jennifer McGruther, courtesy 10 Speed Press.
Almond rosewater currant Portugal cake.

Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York's best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we'll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.

The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle
By Jennifer McGruther, 320 pages, Ten Speed Press, $27.99

Jenny McGruther started her blog, "The Nourished Kitchen," in 2007 as a chronicle of her personal exploration and interest in traditional food. Last week, she released a collection of the resulting recipes in a beautiful new book, filled with lush photos she shot herself. It's an impressive and far-reaching collection, with recipes ranging from smoked salmon roe to bohemian rye bread.

A food educator and farmer's market regular, McGruther was taken by the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneering M.D. living at the turn of the last century, who trotted the globe studying how primitive cultures sourced, prepared, and ate food.

Dr. Price's studies revealed that isolated, primitive populations subsisted on whole grains, meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, sourced from nearby land, and prepared them in simple, straightforward fashion, preserving surplus for later. These people, he contended, had very few health problems, longer lifespans, and better resilience in the face of injury than their counterparts in developed areas, who ate from a more refined, processed pantry. Price believed the difference was largely due to diet.

The traditional foods movement is based in this work, and it's what the Nourished Kitchen (blog and book) is all about: recapturing this inborn way of sourcing, preparing, and consuming food in a modern kitchen.

The ideas that unprocessed, fresh, organic foods taste better and are more nutritious than super refined things from a box or produce grown steeped in pesticides and genetically modified is not exactly news, but McGruther notes that back when she started the blog, "traditional food wasn't really being talked about; since then it's really taken off."

The author looks at food as a whole experience, linking how it's produced, prepared, and how well it nourishes both body and community. She says it's as much a mindset as anything: It's about "food that's been grown with intention, prepared with intention, consumed with intention, and then shared with intention for the community, as well."

On the next page, McGruther chats up the difference between traditional and farm to table dining, Portugal cake, and the glories of lard.

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