The Heavy Table reviews Beth Dooley's The Northern Heartland Kitchen

By Susan Pagani
The Heavy Table

In her upcoming cookbook, The Northern Heartland Kitchen ($29.95, 280 pages, University of Minnesota Press), Twin Cities author and food critic Beth Dooley (above) sets out from where 2004’s Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland left off: She refocuses her strong seasonal bent to bring home cooks more than 200 new recipes inspired not so much by the historic traditions of the Upper Midwest as by its extraordinary bounty.

In Savoring the Seasons, Dooley and Lucia Watson brought the region’s diverse native and immigrant food traditions to life, folding history, anecdotes, and photographs in with their updated recipes and creating a book that was a delightful read. Although peppered with interesting bits of advice and insight from local farmers and producers, Northern Heartland Kitchen is more of a working cookbook. Accordingly, it offers only a short introduction to the current conversation on local and sustainable food in the Upper Midwest before digging into the recipes. Two compact lists entitled “Ten good reasons to eat seasonal and local” and “What do local and regional really mean?” really pull their weight in explaining why consumers should care about and invest in local and seasonal food. Similarly, a succinct chapter on community sustainable agriculture contains good information on how to sign up for, use, and store your CSA box veggies. However, the few paragraphs in the introduction — which discuss how local producers, farmers, and researchers are using innovation, science, and sustainable practices to bring us urban gardens, longer growing seasons, and greater variety — were perhaps too brief; we turned the page wanting more of the storytelling Dooley wove into Savoring the Seasons.

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