Friday, May 24, 2013

Kingsolver and Wizenburg

A woman who made her home rural Virginia, then spent several years in Arizona, I can relate palpably to the feeling of leaving and then returning to the dusty South. Instead of feeling someways ashamed of my cultural heritage and southern youth, I'm enlivened, enriched, and emboldened by a new sense of comraderie with my fellow locals *and yokels?* here in Tennessee.

Our earth is rich, our sunshine is promising, our culture supports farming well.

I'm amazingly humbled, though, by the expanse of ignorance about local food that encompassed by brain like a thick fog before reading this book.

I'm also a little embarrassed to tell you how many crickets stopped chirping and how small of a pea my brain actually was before reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

What does it mean to actually become a 'locavore'?
The three years it takes to grow asparagus?
The sweat it takes to eat your own cherries?
The weeding required for healthy squash?
The number of tomato recipes to pull out of your own hat?
The temperature needed for making your own mozzarella?

Oh and can I add one more thing to the list?  I know I wasn't supposed to start a vegetable patch *something on my high and mighty to-do list for the Spring* until reading this book.  I wouldn't have known what to do with a tomato. Compared to Kingsolver, slicing it for my salad doesn't compare with bushels of tomatoes in chutney, sauce, canning, and freezing for the rest of the winter. For some this life of canning is the norm- for me, I really think- partially from experience-that it would be a bizarre marriage of confusion and mistake.

Interested in eating locally? Think you like to eat vegetables? Proud of your little patch? If you haven't read it, my advice would be abandon what you think you know, and spend a little time in the pages of this book.  At the least, you will absorb some new vegetable recipes, such as disappearing beans or squash. You will certainly learn something new, even if you don't agree with all of her opinions. I for one am going to wait a year before trying my hand at vegetable-growing. Becoming a locavore will take much longer for me, I'm sure.

The thing I like most about Kingsolver? These words, in her Acknowledgments section:
"Many mentors helped shape this project: Wendell and Tanya Berry were there all along: everything we've said here, Wendell said first, in a quiet voice that makes the mountains tremble."

Leigh Kramer recommended that I read this book next. I know my sister read it, and I think I may have checked it out from the library once before. Time to buckle down an really read it, I think.

I also recently found A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg at the library. Although planning to save it, I plowed through in a couple of days. This was just a fun book to read. I loved the account of how she met her husband, and how she changed through the events of the book. Loved, loved, loved her writing, couldn't put it down. Brilliant storyteller, cathartic account of father's life and death, amazing memory with penchant for charming details, and a quirky sense of humor to boot.

About the Recipes-

Liked/Disliked- I made the Dried Fruit Pie. The crust turned out ahh--mmm-azing, as in, I'm gonna have to write it down. And I liked the filling of (pre-soaked, then drained) prunes, figs, raisins, currents, and chopped walnuts. It was something different from your usual apple/cherry/pumpkin. It called for golden raisins and dried apples, but I substituted the regular raisins and currents because I couldn't find the dried apples and I prefer regular to golden raisins.  I served it (as she called for) with a dollop of sweet real whipped cream. The combo of prunes and whipped cream- to me- was fabulously yummy with this delicious crust. However, the concept "tried and true" doesn't ring right with me. First off, because my kiddos didn't take such a liking to the fruit, and second, neither did the hubby, who usually will eat most anything. They all got a good kick out of crust and cream, though- who wouldn't? My only alteration to the recipe besides my substitutions would be to serve it slightly warm, instead of as the book said, at room temperature.

Want to Try: Homemade tomato soup- because I always eat the canned kind.
All of her salad recipes, including the potato salad and red cabbage and all of them.
And of course I want to try her chocolate cake and all the pickle recipes from her wedding.

Loved- French bread and (melty) dark chocolate. Yummmmmmmmmy. Because a book had to inspire this snack (?! it's true, it did), and I'm nevah goin' back.


SquireRose said...

I've been enjoying and pondering 'Animal Vegetable Miracle' lately too. It was recommended to me as a good introduction to small farming and mindful eating, and it really engaged me. My reaction is similar to yours: mind blown, and wondering where to start. Recently I stumbled into a short essay by Kingsolver in "The Complete Organic Pregnancy" by Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu that just about brought me to tears. It is a really personal and compelling look at the same issue, mother to mother.

Tacy said...

You know what, I'm going to check into that article. I'm sold on reading anything Kingsolver!