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COOK THE BOOK: blackberry farm cookbook

You know, there are a few times in life I've found myself envious. I believe once there was a tangible evil glare I'd always give one particular "fashionista" in new York because she was inexplicably and without fail always dawned in the hottest designers while on a Ramen noodle budget (I would later learn this was called runway renting, who knew). And there possibly may have been an incident where I might have allegedly instigated a cheeky rumor back in high school about a girl who would always arrive to school in a limo (I had to take two trains and a bus, what gives!). But I'm older and wiser now and have let such frivolous source of envy fall to the wayside. Instead you can find me vehemently envying Sam Beall. Why? Oh, I'll tell you why. Sam's father started Ruby Tuesdays, but that is just a minute detail in comparison. It was this now famous restaurant chain that led Sam's father to pack up his family and move every few months or so. While most kids would find this sorely inconvenient for their social life, boy would I have reveled in the chance to see the many facets of an entire country at such a young age. I imagine I'd be quite the hippie actually. Well, finally Sam settled down and did the typical traditional course of attending culinary school, working for gastronomic giants like Thomas Keller of French Laundry in California, then onto renowned vineyards and even a creamery for godsakes. But even after such a jealousy-inducing journey, nothing comes close to the fact that all the while, Sam had this miraculous and other-worldly gem called Blackberry Farm that would be awaiting his return. What a gift it must be to come home, or call home rather, a place where the seasons are as vivid as a Matisse canvas, the harvest more bountiful than any chemical crop could produce, and the region like a patchwork of kindred spirits all engaging in a like-minded hub of artistry, reverence and tradition. So can you blame a girl for being a teensy weensy bit envious?

The Blackberry Farm Cookbook is a monster of a book. I'm not being facetious, I literally mean this book is bigger and heavier than my imaginary Japanese knife drawer (seriously have you seen the prices at Williams-Sonoma? It's like a car down payment for one knife! I thought Japan was a land of child labor, hmm). But as they say, the bigger...the more to love right. If you can get over the grief of dealing with this massive book that's suffering a coffee table identity crisis, the seasonal recipes, anecdotes, and extremely warm tone of Sam's thoughts on what makes for a desirable food system and lifestyle are sure to have you captivated by the inevitable magic that is Blackberry Farm.

In an effort to embrace what it must be like to be a stay at home mom (a current political controversy if you can believe it) I decided to cook two meals a day for one week that was enough to feed this mansion-like abode that's currently housing me. The Blackberry Farm cookbook was the perfect aid. I set out to answer whether the average family could maintain a seasonal, produce-heavy diet (diet here simply meaning chosen foods) and the answer is a resounding yes. While the cookbook itself offers no more false encouragement than Animal, Vegetable Miracle where Barbara Kingsolver takes a year off to start a farm with her monetary riches, what it does do beautifully is highlight the simplicity of dishes that prosper purely from the farm fresh ingredients that go into it with a sprinkling of ignited passion for cooking and eating that everyone should be equipped with.

In the end, do I think this lofty sixty dollar tome is worth the dough? No, not entirely sorry to say. The photographs, while brilliant, are not the modern over-styled pieces of art so many gourmands are spoiled with today. The size is severely inconvenient as a functioning cookbook. I found myself thinking the glossy pages were too precious to have near my dirty bustling kitchen but then not useful enough when all the way on my coffee table sitting pretty. And who really wants to photocopy their own cookbook just to prep a meal? That's hardly kosher (read eco-friendly). But make no mistake, while I originally was going to tell you that you'd be hard pressed not to find another clean food, farm-to-table, 365 seasonality inspired cookbook that did a better job than Sam Beall's...the truth is that as I sit here even now, ravaged by my late-night dessert cravings as always, the aroma of crisp tart apples baking up in a delectable casserole downstairs, the truth is that when you need a flawless recipe that delivers, this cookbook is quite the charmer. But seriously, enjoy it at a library, bookstore aisle or borrow from a richer, more enviable friend!

PS- Let that friend be me. I'll be posting tons of recipes from my experiment of cooking the book for the rest of the week. Roasted pineapple upside down cake, carrot souffle, and sweet corn pudding anyone?

Blackberry Farm image by the lovely Coco of Roost


  1. Can't wait for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake!! I'm planning on making one next week! :)

  2. Cannot wait to enjoy these lovely new recipes!


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