Maggie's Harvest Hardcover – Oct 1 2007
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I bought this book for myself as a present, and have spent hours remembering recipes from my youth and rejoicing in the offerings of the seasons. Ms Beer's book is organised by season: Summer; Autumn (Fall); Winter and Spring. Entries are alphabetic within seasons. The instructions are easy to follow and the recipes are foolproof (trust me: I've tested some of them).
This is a book to explore and to seek inspiration from. From almonds, anchovies and artichokes to venison, vine leaves, witlof and zucchini there is much to feast your eyes on. And should you want more than a visual feast, then there are recipes to follow as you create your own actual feast.
I bought this book for the pictures, but it continues to encourage me to explore new cuisine. I especially enjoy the seasonal approach. It may be true that many of us can obtain most items at any time of the year but there is something wonderful about fresh food in season that makes cooking even more satisfying.
As an ex-pat Australian, I was only vaguely aware of Maggie Beer from a TV show she does with a rather whiny "chef" as well as the excellent products she has produced, although an unopened bottle of her verjuice sits somewhat forgotten in my pantry... Forgotten no longer! I now have several excellent recipes to use this mysterious substance in, thanks to Maggie Beer's well-researched and easy to follow recipes.
Okay, I haven't attempted one yet, but all the recipes are so simply presented it should be a snap. The first recipe I will try is Maggie's famous "sour cream pastry" -- just three ingredients - flour, butter and sour cream. Sounds pretty decadent.
So far I have enjoyed the stories of how Maggie's business grew. Also the photos in this large book are just breathtaking and make this Aussie girl quite homesick for her sunburnt land.
I love that the book is laid out in seasonal chapters. In this day and age where most produce (at least here in LA) is available all year round, consulting this book is will definitely encourage me to buy locally and seasonally. Something we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint, right?
One other thing -- I thought my library was complete with a couple by Bourdain, Gabriel Gate, my Larousse and Stephanie Alexander's excellent and comprehensive Cook's Companion, that lists all chapters via ingredient. I was wrong! Maggie's Harvest is a welcome addition to this handful of oft-consulted books.
And Mum, next time buy it from amazon, silly! You might save a fair few bucks!!
I do have to disagree with some of the other reviewers who mentioned it's not worth your time if you don't live in Australia. Sure, there are items we can't get in the states, but Maggie really knows how to teach...and she's so passionate about cooking that you're bound to learn quite a bit by watching her (YouTube is great) or just reading through this treasure trove of recipes.
Why's it so expensive? Probably because it wasn't published in the US (for shame...). The stitchery on the cover is gorgeous, the color photos inside the book are beautiful and the book weighs over 5 pounds and is well over 700 pages. Maggie said it's a labor of love and I completely agree with her. I bought one for my mom and she jokes that she never opens it without gloves. Me? I already have a few stains on some of my favorite recipes.
Don't let converting metric to standard intimidate you. That's what Google's for - plus, I bought a digital scale on Amazon for around $12.00 that measures into grams, kilos, pounds and ounces. Easy peasy.
maggie not only share all her good recipes, she takes us through a journey of how she developed her passion in food wihtout a grand plan and with her gd senses as a guide. you will travel with her from the past to present envisioning the smell and taste of unadulterated farmers produce. the ingredients in her recipes are very easy to obtain, i have been quite conscious of MIchael Pollan's food rule "avoid ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce" which makes alot of sense, and is assuring that Maggie uses only the basics.
until i read her book, i always thought refrigerating fruit allow it to develop the full flavour the same as if they were in room temperature, except with added benefit of prolonging their maturity.
it is a real shame to see her book ranking so far back just because Maggie Beer is not a familiar name out of Australia and UK.
there arent that many cookbooks that will age on your shelf gracefully and this is one of them.