Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fertig (Pure Prairie and Que Queens) uses her native knowledge of the heartland (and parts of Canada) and its cultural patchwork to create dishes that go beyond the dreaded Campbell soup casseroles without losing that essential ingredient--comfort. For reliable, filling recipes that make great leftovers, this is the ticket. Hearty appetites will appreciate Polish Wild Mushroom and Potato Soup or Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup. For spicier fare there's Santa Fe Trail Smothered Steak. The book's strong point is the sinful, filling food category, which includes Baked Macaroni and Cheddar and Golden Nugget Custard. The breakfast section (St. Louis Gooey Coffee Cake, Gingerbread Waffles with Pear Sauce) appeals any time of day. Cooks will learn that Church Supper Chicken and Wild Rice Hot Dish, more than a casserole, is a Minnesotan potluck rite of passage. Tucked into every nook of this exhaustive collection are what may be the best treats of all--original jellies and sides (Raspberries and Red Currants in Honeysuckle Jelly) that conjure up stops at roadside country stands. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
When the "back-to-the-land" movement first struck, a number of country cooking/ heartland cookbooks appeared, but that was more than a few years ago. Fertig's (Pure Prairie: Farm Fresh and Wildly Delicious Foods from the Prairie) latest cookbook includes dozens of enticing recipes for both homey comfort food and more contemporary fare, from St. Louis Gooey Butter Coffeecake to Smoked Goat Cheese on Field Greens. Many of them reflect the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the immigrants to the Midwest; others come from early American cookbooks. Readable sidebars cover a variety of topics, including the location of Laura Ingalls Wilder museums and "historic sites," and quotations from writers such as Willa Cather and Mark Twain are scattered throughout. Highly recommended. [Good Cook/BOMC main selection.] Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
This book is not affiliated with Garrison Keillor's public radio show, but other than the title, there's nothing derivative about Prairie Home Cooking. Midwestern cuisine tends to get short shrift in the trendy world of food writing, and
Kansas author Fertig reveals why that's a shame. Unusual but simple fare like Orchard Chicken with Cider and Prunesas fine a braised chicken dish as you'll find anywheredemonstrates how the region's German and Swedish immigrants brought European flair to the prairie's rich harvests.
The best chapter, A Prairie Pantry, explains how to pickle onions, make vinegar from wild leeks, prepare chokeberry jelly and preserve watermelon rind. Elsewhere, Fertig even discusses Midwestern microbreweries that specialize in (what else?) wheat beer. Literary echoes from Willa Cather, Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder, among others, complement Fertig's own bucolic reminisces.