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The Vineyard Kitchen

Menus Inspired by the Seasons
by Maria Helm Sinskey (Harper Collins, September 2003)

The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons


As the days get shorter and the sunlight runs sparse we crave nurturing, warm meals, foods that restore a sense of wholeness after a spent summer. Nothing replenishes the soul like a home cooked meal and glass of wine sitting at an evening fire as the leaves turn out of doors. But with our hectic schedules, the dream of spending more time in the kitchen may just remain that, a dream.

The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons by Maria Helm Sinskey is at once an urgent request to turn toward the garden, local market and find wholeness through cooking with clean, ripe, local foods and at the same time a poem, an ode to the seasons, an ode to the past, and an homage to the sheer nurturing goodness of food.

Thomas Keller sets the tone in his foreword to this precious book: "What is forgotten…is that cooking, a craft born out of necessity, is crucial to our emotional well-being, creativity and social interaction."

Indeed it is. Rather than going for another self-help book or blasphemous piece of garbage on weight loss, we recommend this book. It is a sheer delight. It will at once lift the woes that come with the seasons' changes and align with our inner clocks, our forgotten seasonal gauges that without our doing drive toward Fall's bounty, move to Winter's offerings to be reborn again with the coming of Spring. Maria offers 40 menus, ten per season and more than 180 recipes. In Fall, you may crave a tart flambé, followed by roasted duck breast with quince compote; or butternut squash soup and buttermilk biscuits (this may be all you need, soup and a heel of crusty artisan bread) and roasted guinea hen and sautéed savoy cabbage with golden apples and a caramelized apple galette.

"Oh, the pure delights of apples, sugar, butter and flaky pastry. This galette is a study in simplicity," she writes. Her words are so full of joy, so bursting with delight in her craft, we couldn't help but smile and at the same time feel a slight sense of longing for restoration, via food, via wine, via a celebration of the seasons.

(Updated: 01/16/09 SB)

The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons

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