Friday, June 10, 2011

Travels to Seattle: A New Favorite Cookbook


It has been more than a month since I went to Seattle for Heidi Swanson's book signing. The albums of photos on my computer have grown and stories and thoughts along with them. There will never be time to always share all the moments while they are fresh, and I suppose this is why we have memories to store up more than we have time to express at once. I love recalling something forgotten for a good ten years.

Before moving into the present, I want to note my appreciation of Heidi's new cookbook Super Natural Every Day. It has already received much due praise from bloggers much more reputable than me. Check out the words of Matt Bites, Smitten Kitchen, Steamy Kitchen, Lottie + Doof, and La Tartine Gourmande.

101 Cookbooks was one of the first food blogs I ever encountered. I have been returning to it for four years, drawn to the author Heidi Swanson's photography, voice, and clean organization and thoughtful arrangement of typography and details. Heidi's graphic design skills shine through here, and the same fine aesthetic has transferred into both her cookbooks, Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day.

I have recognized a natural affinity for the recipes within these pages, embracing new ingredients and combinations and drawing to old familiars like Japanese flavors, Indian spices, and grains like quinoa (a friend commented the other day about how my mother was serving quinoa at the family table long before half the Northwest knew what it was!).

The first recipe out of the new cookbook that I mentally earmarked was the Tutti-Frutti Crumble. If I do not start reading a cookbook from the dessert collection, then I struggle to put it down before flipping beyond the savory pages. I have an undeniable sweet tooth but not the frosting-laden sort, which is why I mesh so well with Heidi's palate. I grew up on half-whole-wheat claufoutis and fruit-rich crumbles for dessert, so the thought of enhancing such a simply perfect dessert as a crumble or crisp with poppy seeds, currants, and Beaujolais wine delightfully challenges the definition of perfection.



Between my fantasies of that crumble and the present, I was drawn back into the lunch and dinner pages, and I know this is a cookbook I will continue to flip through from cover to cover. (Breakfast deserves due attention, as well.) I acquired tarragon and remembered that I had seen it mentioned in the subtitle of a Wild Rice Casserole. Cremini mushrooms, mustard, and Gruyère were also components, and considering that Western Washington has kept us bundled in sweatshirts and slippers through May, it sounded like a lovely warming dish. (Oh, it was.)


And then there is the kale salad that I ate for a week straight, and even still, this pattern could have pleasantly lasted longer. Salty tamari and toasted sesame oil infuse crunchy roasted kale leaves and thick coconut flakes. Then these are tossed with whatever grain is at hand, like the big batch of cooked brown basmati rice in my fridge. It is such an easy recipe, I have enthusiastically relayed it in conversation, and I have already played around with it based on our vegetable supply. Kale is not the only hearty green that works, and a successful adaption involved thick coins of white leeks in the roasting pan along with the kale and coconut. A poached egg on top, and I could live on this meal.


On a side note, I rolled out of a friend's bed at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday to get home to Bellingham that weekend. Swinging by Cloud City Coffee on my way out of Seattle, I stocked up with an Americano and treat for the drive. That treat was a slice of Coconut Bread, and - oh wow - it was sublime. I would love to find a good recipe for such a loaf. Do you have any recipes to share?


Rachael said...

The cookbook sounds great. I'm looking forward to the summer meals we'll get to share this season. There's nothing like the big boys coming home to cherish more gatherings around the table.

GrantJM said...

Lael - found a 'not so healthy' coconut bread recipe...but thought her sight looked a lot like yours. Full of photos that help you feel like you are there. Beautiful words and settings as you always do - thanks.