Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-Table Meal


The story of a feast two years in the making, from the farmer who harvested the vegetables, raised the animals, and prepared the meal.
In Growing a Farmer, Kurt Timmermeister recounted the toil and joy of wrestling an empty plot of land on Vashon Island, Washington, into a dairy farm. Now he tells the story of a feast made from only what the farm provides. But the story of the meal begins two years earlier with the birth of a calf, Alice. When she is grown, Alice will produce ...
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Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-Table Meal

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The story of a feast two years in the making, from the farmer who harvested the vegetables, raised the animals, and prepared the meal.
In Growing a Farmer, Kurt Timmermeister recounted the toil and joy of wrestling an empty plot of land on Vashon Island, Washington, into a dairy farm. Now he tells the story of a feast made from only what the farm provides. But the story of the meal begins two years earlier with the birth of a calf, Alice. When she is grown, Alice will produce the cream to be churned into butter, made into sauce Béarnaise, and served alongside poached eggs and kale gathered the morning of the feast. Along the way we meet Leda, who trades onion seedlings for Kurt’s cheese; Michiko, who forages the white chanterelles for the antipasti course; and Bill, whose large, thin-skinned tomatoes will form the basis of the tomato upside-down cake. Rich in detail, resonant in story, Growing a Feast depicts the effort behind every meal, the farm that comes before every table.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the sequel to his 2011 book Growing a Farmer, Timmermeister painstakingly chronicles the cultivation of a grand farm-made feast, asking readers to consider the source of their meals more carefully. Beginning two years before the day of the feast, we bear witness to the birth of Alice, the farm’s newest dairy cow, who will help make butter and cheese; we follow Timmermeister in each step of the delicate cheese-making and -aging process; and we discover the origins of his prized tomatoes. Timmermeister’s methodical prose in these sections can be tedious, reflecting the monotony the author finds in so much of farm life. Where the book shines is in its reflective passages; Timmermeister does not shrink from the honest truth, providing an unflinching account of slaughtering a bull that will both shock readers and immediately force them to question their reactions. The end of the book features recipes for many of the meals discussed. Agent: Elizabeth Wales, Wales Literary. (Jan)
Library Journal
Timmermeister (Growing a Farmer: How I Learned To Live off the Land), the owner of Kurtwood Farms in bucolic Vashon Island, WA, discusses how he set out to create an autumn dinner for friends. The reader may be astounded to discover that the process began nearly two years before the guests arrived, with the birth of the calf that provided the milk for the cheese and butter. Slowly, the author walks the reader through the seasons, animals, plants, and people who contributed to the meal. His profound love for food and for his farm is conveyed through his straightforward descriptions; he writes with a beguiling simplicity that makes farming accessible and reveals the depth of his expertise. It is Timmermeister's knowledge that differentiates this book from the spate of other farm memoirs that have been popular in recent years, which usually focus on the experience of a city dweller-turned-novice farmer. VERDICT Timmermeister has created a feast not just for his dinner guests but for his readers as well. Fans of food and of farm memoirs who have the patience for this journey are in for a treat.—Audrey Barbakoff, Kitsap Regional Lib., Bainbridge Island, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Creating a feast for friends from the bounty of your farm takes a variety of skills and plenty of dedication. In his second memoir, chef and author Timmermeister (Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land, 2012) chronicles the long journey of a farm-to-table meal. The author's farm on Vashon Island, Wash., produces plenty of vegetables, but the stars of the show are the butter and cheese created through the teamwork of Timmermeister and his herd of beloved Jersey cows. The author begins with the birth of a calf, whose butter and cream will become ingredients in the feast two years later. "The idea that this calf, this young Alice, will produce rich, fatty cream that I can churn into a golden, grassy butter seems unfathomable today," he writes. Timmermeister counts down the days until the meal, tracing the origins and preparations of the foods his guests will enjoy. He explains the process involved in making homemade hard cheese, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables, breeding and milking cows, maintaining pastures, butchering a steer and preparing the meal for the author's 20 guests. "The menu is neither arbitrary nor capricious," he writes, "but it is casual. It reflects what is available for this time of year--the second week of October; the beginning of autumn--and what I had preserved from the past months of growing at the farm." Timmermeister admits he is a perfectionist narrating the smallest details for readers, and this is most delightful during the author's account of the final hours before the meal, including the reasons for the various utensils used, his attitude before and during the meal, and the multitude of steps involved in each recipe. A treat for anyone craving a point-by-point narration of how living off the land plays out for this former urban restaurateur–turned–cheese maker/farmer.
Penelope Green - The New York Times
“Distinguished itself from the multitude of farm memoirs… with its scope and vantage point.”
Lindsay Abrams - Salon
“A former chef in the Seattle food scene turned small-scale dairy farmer, Kurt Timmermeister is in a better place than most to set the record straight about where our food comes from.”
Shelf Awareness
“We hear the phrase ‘farm to table’ often, but to understand what this truly means, read Growing a Feast.”
Chris Walters - Acres
“Timmermeister’s narrative is an antidote to food cynicism.”
Kent Black - Boston Globe
“I hung on every word. . . . Timmermeister has the knack of helping the reader imagine the tastes of the produce coming out of the earth and the smells of the dinner being made in the cookhouse.”
Nancy Leson - Seattle Times
““Delicious. . . . takes a realistic look at a world we’ve come to fetishize and glamorize.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393088892
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/6/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 590,057
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kurt Timmermeister was a successful restaurateur in Seattle before buying farmland on Vashon Island in 1991. Originally four acres, Kurtwood Farms is now a thirteen-acre dairy farm specializing in farmstead cheese.
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