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The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook by Kim O'Donnel

More ideas for winter eats that will get you through the season.

(Step Up to the Plate is running a series of posts to introduce readers to seasonal cooking. We aim to get you through the winter with satisfied taste buds and a head full of delicious recipes. Our second cookbook review is Kim O’Donnel’s Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook.)

O’Donnel tackles the entire year in this cookbook, with recipe options tailored specifically for spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Her focus is the whole-menu approach: instead of dividing the contents into ‘soups,’ ‘sides,’ or ‘entrees,’ she groups her offerings into what she thinks will work best as an entire meal. The Hummus-Stuffed Tomatoes are right next to the Fattoush Salad and Seared Halloumi, for example, while the Red Lentil Dal is cozied up with the Individual Flatbreads. There’s a nice balance of uber-simple options (e.g., Wilted Greens in a Skillet Vinaigrette) with the more time-consuming (such as the Gumbo z’Herbs), and she offers plenty of guidance about which recipes are gluten-free, vegan, kid-centric, or convenient for leftovers.

As the book’s the title implies, there’s no fish, poultry, or meat to be found within its pages (and no desserts, either). Some of the ingredient lists might require a quick trip to the grocery — O’Donnel seems particularly fond of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce — but the results are worth it: the stuffed peppers (pictured) would be a welcome side dish at any meal, and the Black-Bean Chili is just the thing for a snug evening by the fire. It’s a great guide for those who are new to seasonal cooking, and the conversational tone and abundant photos make it a handy resource for the beginner chef. 

Happy 2012

New Years' Inspiration to Eat WellHappy New Year! We hope the coming months are full of delicious, sustainable Oregon food. Along this vein, NPR's Weekend Edition recently ran a story about the growing popularity of farm-fresh, artisanal food and drink. Read it, and resolve to make food a more considered part of your life in 2012.

And if you're on the lookout for a recipe to properly celebrate the new year, check out Willamette Week's Bowl O' Luck, which Ken Rubin crafted as a Northwest-centric dish (akin to Hoppin' John or Pork and Sauerkraut) to help ring in a prosperous 2012. We're certain that the meal's lucky mojo will work even if you make it post-Jan 1 (Indeed, for those of us whose stomachs only just recovered from our holiday excesses, that's a very important point).

May you have an appetizing and abundant 2012.

Winter Harvest Cookbook by Lane Morgan

(Step Up to the Plate is running a series of posts to introduce readers to seasonal cooking. We aim to get you through the winter with satisfied taste buds and a head full of delicious recipes. Our first cookbook review is Lane Morgan's Winter Harvest Cookbook.)

Morgan's hortopita pastry

If one cookbook could ever get you through the winter, this is it. Morgan opens by introducing us to exactly what we'll be working with: mini-biographies of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that thrive during the cold season. A well-organized index makes it easy to find recipes that cater to whatever is on hand (your CSA delivered nothing but greens this week.. no problem!), and instructions are straightforward and varied.

Morgan's hortopita pastry proved an excellent potluck offering. Tasty even at room temperature, it received enthusiastic reviews from a distinctly omnivorous crowd while the spinach salad added a unique twist to a familiar side dish. Not just for vegetarians, there are recipes on hand that incorporate fish, beef, and pork, as well as a nice selection of sauces, desserts, and gluten-free options.

If this book has one flaw, it's in the baked goods section. While the flavor combinations in the celeriac bread and carrot-date squares are rave-worthy, you might need to experiment a little to get your batter to the desired consistency. And while the lack of pictures might be a negative for some, the space that would have been devoted to shiny images is filled with fun descriptions, sample menus, and helpful tips. With over 200 dishes to try out, there's more than enough in this book to get you through the season in style.


Winter Wasteland? Not Hardly.

Seasonal and regional cooking ideas to get you through the cold months

Winter Harvest CookbookFor too many of us, autumn and winter are seen as the 'lean seasons': gone are the fresh strawberries of summer, the crisp asparagus of spring is just a memory, and most local farm stands have packed it in for the year. It's no wonder people get depressed around this time: short, rainy days are difficult enough even without having to contemplate five months of peaches-from-the-tin or mealy tomatoes from Florida.

 

The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook

Of course, we wouldn't be writing this if we didn't have an easy antidote to the 'winter-food blues';. Our advice: instead of resigning yourself to living without for half a year, hustle to the nearest bookstore and check out some of the Northwest's other natural resources: cookbook authors! This region is full of delicious fruits and vegetables that thrive in the cold season (you can find more details on exactly what's out there with Seasonal Cornucopia or Epicurious), and local cookbooks are a great way to find recipes that show them off.

The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook

Over the next few weeks, Step Up to the Plate will be running a series of posts that will introduce you to some of the best that the local culinary landscape has to offer. If we do our job right, you'll never lack for warm, satisfying, local-and-scrumptious goodies to fill your table throughout the entire course of winter.

So, away with your canned goods! Break out the oven mitts! Discover just how tasty and abundant these winter months can be!

Autumn Farmers Markets

Supporting local farmers is never out of season

farmers marketAutumn has arrived! While we can all celebrate the colors, smells, and events of the fall season, it also means saying goodbye to some of the farmers markets that made this summer so memorable.

Though most markets in the area have already wound down, there are several that will operate year-round:

Visit Portland’s Sustainable Food website for more information about the closing dates, hours of operation and locations of these Portland hold-outs. And in the meantime, check out these videos from farmers markets in Hood River and Astoria–there's so much more to markets than just great food...