Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Feast Nearby

As the year comes to close, we have to take a look at all that we have. We have to appreciate that there is food on our tables and laughter in our life. We often take some many things for granted. In 2009, Robin Mather was getting a divorce and lost her job from the Chicago Tribune. She decided to return to rural Michigan and live on a very limited budget of $40 a week. Mather had been a food critic so she wanted to eat well, and eat locally. The Feast Nearby is the account of this time.

In The Feast Nearby Mather chronicles her year-long project: preparing and consuming three home-cooked, totally seasonal, and local meals a day--all on forty dollars a week.
Through local eating, Mather forges connections with the farmers, vendors, and growers who provide her with sustenance. She becomes more closely attuned to the nuances of each season, inhabiting her little corner of the world more fully, and building a life richer than she imagined it could be.
The Feast Nearby celebrates small pleasures: home-roasted coffee, a pantry stocked with home-canned green beans and homemade preserves, and the contented clucking of laying hens in the backyard. Mather also draws on her rich culinary knowledge to present nearly one hundred seasonal recipes that are inspiring, enticing, and economical--cooking goals that don’t always overlap--such as Pickled Asparagus with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic; Cider-Braised Pork Loin with Apples and Onions; and Cardamom-Coffee Toffee Bars.

I often found myself enthusiastically nodding as I read this. The government tells us eating on a budge means eating harmful food, but Robin proves that is easier than that. We can eat locally grown, delicious food without drying up the coffers. I know this book really hit home for us, especially at this time of year where money seems to be scarcer than ever.  Mather inspires with her story and even separates the books into seasons.  She tells you how to cook and how to preserve and freeze so you do save money without sacrificing health and taste.  We were huge fans of the Thai-Style Pumpkin Soup.  I always buy numerous pumpkins to carve and cook with from the farm down the street.  I had saved a large pumpkin through Thanksgiving, and this gave me the perfect (and delicious) way to use it.
We warmed ourselves on many a morning recently with Baked Indian Pudding which utilizes coffee, cornmeal and even blackstrap molasses (a huge iron boost).

 The Feast Nearby is about taking stock of your life and living and eating with the seasons.

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