A few years ago it seemed that every other new book was a memoir of restoring a house in the European countryside. Well, this year’s writers have come home and are deep into farming.
An interesting example of this genre is e Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love by Kristin Kimball. Kimball describes in detail what happens to her life when she falls in love with a young farmer, moves from Manhattan to Upstate New York and lives with the relentless rhythms of farm life. She gives enough detail to make the story really interesting, and you can feel her ambivalence every step of the way. You can see both the great amount of work and enormous satisfaction involved in, for example, bottling 1,000 quarts of maple syrup.
Similar titles include Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet by Catherine Friend; e Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather; and Barnheart: e Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich.
Jim Lahey became somewhat famous when his recipe for no-work, no-knead, no-special-equipment, crusty delicious bread shot across the world via the New York Times, the internet and the book itself: My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. His new book My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home is another sure hit. Microgreens: How to Grow Nature’s Own Superfood, by Fionna Hill, is a beautifully illustrated hands-on guide to growing nutritious microgreens, the tiny first growth of plants such as basil, wheatgrass, beets and kale. “Delicious” and “easy” are the key words for growing microgreens. They grow well in containers, they stay short and they’re ready to eat in a week. Kind of like bonsai for farmers. Very fun.
Speaking of fun, Jelly Shot Test Kitchen: Jell-ing Classic Cocktails— One Drink at a Time, by Michelle Palm, stops people in their tracks as they exclaim out loud “Oh my God, look at this!” I passed it around the bar at Night Town one night, and it was the star of a dinner party a few nights later. (I carry it around in my purse.) You don’t actually have to make the drinks for your party, just have the book on hand and people will be impressed.