cover image Local Dirt: Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home

Local Dirt: Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home

Andrea Bemis. Harper Wave, $32.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-297027-5

Bemis (Dishing Up the Dirt) presents a practical if predictable collection of recipes for local-to-her food, inspired by a 30-day attempt to eat solely items from within 200 miles of her Oregon farm. Chapters are broken out by season, but the organization within chapters feels random, so that strawberry shortcakes in the spring chapter are sandwiched between sugar snap peas and creamed chard. There’s also a discounting of immigrant contributions to the nation’s table; for Bemis, “eating like our grandparents did” means cooking narrowly defined “American” cuisine and eschewing items such as soy sauce and coconut milk (though she uses Mediterranean staples olive oil and canned tuna). An introduction recounting the author’s forays into butchery and tuna fishing includes observations like “Beef is complicated. The industry on a whole is super flawed.... But then you get to know actual ranchers... it’s clear that they’re stewards of this beautiful country.” The recipes are solid and easy to prepare, such as pork shoulder roasted for hours, and macaroni and cheese with bacon and nutmeg; a surfeit of soups and stews include a broccoli cheddar puree, as well as a lamb stew with carrots and parsnips. Bemis does include a few innovative offerings, such as a pot pie filled with ground pork, kale, and pumpkin for fall, and mushrooms cooked over an open flame to welcome spring. Readers will appreciate the straightforward recipes, but may not share the author’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for what is essentially familiar fare. (Oct.)