(This story was first published in the May 9, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Virginia Dean
Columnist Tracey Medeiros took on a daunting task a little over a year ago by contacting more than 100 Vermont farms, asking them to help her create her new book, The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook.
“It was an amazing process,” said Medeiros. “I called each person and asked them to showcase ingredients that they grow on their farm. It’s a beautiful community, and I’m so appreciative of their support and kindness. In writing this, I really wanted to reflect those contributors.”
As such, Medeiros and the statewide farmers have generated a plethora of rich, and mostly organic, victuals that are reflected in 150 recipes, bringing the pure foods from the farm to the table.
“Writing a book is a lot of work,” said Medeiros. “It could have gotten chaotic but people were so supportive of my deadlines and getting back to me, taking the time for me to interview them. Everyone works so hard and is so dedicated. Their passion really drives them to make communities healthy through food.”
The desire for the hale and hearty high-quality food has always been important to this freelance food writer and stylist, recipe developer and tester, who also writes a weekly food column for the Essex Reporter and the Cochester Sun as well as the Edible Farm column for Edible Green Mountains Magazine.
“I’ve always loved food,” Medeiros said. “Even as a child, I liked to cook.”
As she became older, Medeiros continued her passion but in a somewhat roundabout way. Receiving her BS in Political Science at Northeastern University, the Massachusetts native also received a paralegal diploma from NYU but decided that the subject wasn’t creative enough to pursue so she enrolled in Johnson & Wales University and earned a diploma in Culinary Arts, magna cum laude.
“I just wanted to pursue my cooking and love of food,” Medeiro said. “After graduating from J&W, I began to take the field seriously and fell in love with cooking and working with food.”
Published this year byWoodstock’s The Countryman’s Press, and illustrated by freelance photographer Oliver Parini, Medeiros’s second book (her first book, Dishing Up Vermont, was published in 2008 by Storey Publishing) reflects the small, independent farms that make up the economic and cultural spine of Vermont. From the dairy goat farmer to the sweet corn grower, readers are exposed to high quality recipes ranging from breads to desserts in just more than 250 pages.
From the Amee Farm in Pittsfield, for example, interested folks learn about its lemon lavender dressing that, according to owner Lee Ann Isaacson, is remarkable.
“It’s mostly because of the uniqueness of the flavors in it,” said Isaacson. “A lot of people don’t cook with lavender but added to the right pot, it’s amazing. It’s not overbearing if used right. It has enough depth and flavor to stand up by itself. It’s particularly great on heavy greens. Or, with thickening, it can be used over chicken. It has a lot of versatility. It’s a great product.”
In North Pomfret at Thistle Hill Farm, owner John Putnam explained that the cheese used in his Alpen Macaroni recipe is inspired by the French Alps.
“We picked a recipe that we learned about there,” said Putnam who co-owns the Farm with his wife, Janine. “Most people don’t make mac ‘n cheese like this. The taste is incredibly good.”
The Tarentaise cheese, Putnam noted, is unique to Pomfret in that its soil, geography, climate and flora combine to give Tarentaise its characteristically smooth, subtle nut flavor and complex finish. Following the traditions of the Savoie region of the French Alps, Tarentaise is made in a copper vat which is essential to the development of the proper flavor. Tarentaise is an aged, raw milk, farmstead organic cheese that is handmade by the Putnams from the certified organic milk of their grass fed Jersey cows.
In Quechee, Meghan Mahoney, marketing specialist of Simon Pearce Restaurant, indicated that the three recipes offered for the cookbook are house favorites.
“They feature local ingredients from our partners and nearby community farms,” Mahoney said. “Our Vermont cheddar soup, which we recommend pairing with a pint of Vermont’s own Long Trail Ale, is a deliciously addictive recipe with a velvety texture that pairs perfectly with our Rory’s Irish scones. Our warm apple crisp with hazelnut crumble is a flavorful ending, featuring firm local apples in handmade Simon Pearce Brookfield bakeware.”
With the exception of two recipes, including a tri-colored carrot recipe and a braised meat recipe, all were submitted by local farmers, food producers and merchants, including Woodstock Farmers’ Market and Cloudland Farms. And, as Medeiros notes, there is something for everyone: vegetarian, meats, desserts, soups, salads, breads, breakfast foods, and drinks.
“I wanted this cookbook to reflect the face of Vermont,” Medeiros stated. “It’s a community cookbook.”
Medeiros will be on hand for signing and a meet and greet dinner on Tuesday, May 21 at 6 p.m. at Carpenter & Main. The menu will feature dishes from The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook.
Ten percent of the proceeds from the book and $500 from her advance will go to the Vermont Food Bank which was designated by local farmers, Medeiros said.
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