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.