I'm not one for cookbooks but Basics with a Twist
by Kim Sanwald has truly inspired me to transform my own cooking with
the same zeal and enthusiasm as Julie when she went through Julia
Child's classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
I buy local and organic food as much as
possible, but find that not only do I have to force myself to eat
vegetables, but I lack enough ways to cook them besides the handy but
boring steaming and stir frying. Many farmers market patrons and
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members have a similar problem.
Sanwald's book is just for us!
As a truck farmer at Brickyard Farms in
southwestern Michigan, Sanwald and her partner, Valerie Lane, grow 17
varieties of tomatoes, seven varieties of potatoes, hard garlic, three
varieties of beets, seven varieties of carrots as well as different
greens including collards, kale, Swiss chard, spinach.
The five-and-a-half acre farm's success is
attributable to the production of fresh, flavorful vegetables grown in
good clay soil that has "some amazing minerals" to enhance their
"shocking taste." This is all done without chemicals or sprays,
although the farm is not certified organic.
Last year Sanwald and Lane grew 4,800
tomatoes from 1500 plants, and from 650 seed potatoes, they harvested
7,000 pounds. Their market customers couldn't get enough!
In the book Sanwald takes readers through
the growing season by focusing on the farm's most popular vegetables:
garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and beets. She provides tried and
true recipes for salads, soups, stews, sauces, dressings, casseroles,
and side dishes that go well with various meats. They make your mouth
water just reading them!
But the book is more than a cookbook. It is also
a memoir of Sanwald's complete change of life after 36 years as a
manager of a dental office in the city to become a truck farmer in rural
- Advertisement -
Sanwald first started working on the farm
in 2007 when she and a group of friends came to Lane's aid after her
partner, Cate Burke, had died unexpectedly from a blood clot at age 46.
Lane had purchased the farm in 2001 after leaving a career as a
building and remodeling contractor.
Being close to the land and close to her
source of food awakened something in Sanwald despite the fact that the
work is hard and dirty and the days are long.
One day as she was harvesting kale she
suddenly broke down in tears realizing that she was connecting to the
earth in a deeply spiritual way.
"I'm home," she said. "I felt like I had arrived."
Doing what others encouraged or expected
her to do had made her unhappy and depressed through most of her life.
She found happiness, however, by growing food. Today, she said she
rejects hair coloring, make-up and stylish clothes, things that once
held great importance for her. And, she has reduced her weight by 30
pounds and 2 dress sizes.
"I feel better," she said, "and the better I feel, the more I want to do this work."
Basics with a Twist shows readers
what can happen to a person through greater attention to food. Ever the
cook, Sanwald expresses her appreciation for the aesthetic pleasures of
food that is flavorful, healthy, homegrown, home-cooked--and shared with
others around a table.
It took Sanwald took two years to write the
book and six more months to prepare it for publication. The whole
project came about because she found herself giving out hundreds of
recipes to customers at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids
where Brickyard Farms is a vendor. Lane suggested she put the recipes
together in a book, however, Sanwald was anxious to write about what her
new life as a truck farmer meant to her.
"The book is a validation of who we are and
who I am," she said. "I love to write and cook. It's my creative
outlet and this book stretched me and my learning process. By combining
both of these things, I am able to help others as well."
She has plans to write a second book that encourages people to grow their own gardens.
The book also includes a resource list for
people looking for information about self-sustaining and organic methods
of farming and gardening as well as commentaries on the local food
movement and environmental issues.
Olga Bonfiglio is a Huffington Post contributor and author of Heroes of a Different Stripe: How One Town Responded to the War in Iraq. She has written for several magazines and newspapers on the subjects of food, social justice and religion. She (more...
|The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.