Ripe from Around Here
I'm an avid vegan cookbook collector, and Ripe From Around Here is more than a vegan cookbook. jae steele, a holistic nutritionist from Toronto, offers a neat little package of sustainability, mindfulness, and the politics of food in addition to vegan gourmet recipes in the end. She really does pack it in—the first five chapters alone touch on local eating, container gardening, mindfulness, canning, natural housecleaning, worm composting (vermicomposting), and a four season overview of how to be healthy through the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine. I really enjoyed reading the paragraphs on how to eat an apple mindfully, and what to holistically focus on during each of the four seasons to promote overall well-being.
But what about the recipes? Yay! The rest of the chapters are a vegan journey, taking us through how to make your own oat milks, nut milks, and rice milks (how much more local can you get?) to West African Groundnut Stew. My mother-in-law and I tried the Tomato Chard Bake the first few days I had the book, and were definitely pleased. A little warning though... the bake took an hour to prepare. This is not fast food, folks. If you have three hungry children waiting for dinner, you have to be strategic about making these kinds of entrees.
You can definitely tell that steele is a nutrition counselor too, because many of her recipes call for spelt and oat flours, coconut oils, and other ingredients you might not immediately have lying around or can pick up at your local corner store. Some of the ingredients will be more expensive. Convenience and price are two big factors for myself and most struggling people I know. I've come to a personal revelation though that perhaps as people in the U.S., maybe we should be spending more money on the food we eat. Michael Pollan, of Omnivore's Dilemma fame, mentioned once that our portions of income on food has declined but our spending on health care has increased. Food is health care.
Ripe From Around Here comes right on time, adding to the zeitgeist of getting back to the basics, eating more locally (and with real food!), and supporting a growing sustainability movement. It can be challenging sometimes to find the time and money, but after finding ways to work it, sitting down to your own homemade Grandmother Palmer's Baked Beans (baked for over four hours!) will be worth it. Mine are just starting to simmer and they smell delicious.