What a treat, to be in the same room as some of the best known and newest cookbook authors featuring the bounty of Martha’s Vineyard, including Laurie David & Kirstin Uhrenholdt, Susie Middleton, Joan Nathan, Chris Fisher, Sarah Waldman, Chris Fischer, and Karen Covey.
That’s what Cook the Vineyard offers, a chance to meet and learn more about these amazing recipe and story purveyors.
A sold out event, Lola’s dining room was packed with food lovers and enthusiastic cooks. Not only were guests going to hear from each of the authors, but we were also going to get to sample a recipe from their cookbook.
Chef Chad of Lola’s was cooking up these tasty dishes for us hungry folks.
Wine from Channing Daughters (loved the Rosato Merlot) was being passed as were apps, including the most wonderful little corn fritters from Sarah Waldman, and then Bang Bang shrimp, a signature dish from Lola’s own menu.
A great way to begin an event. Good food and good wine.
The moderator of Cook the Vineyard was the talented, entertaining, Sissy Biggers, here with her sister, Molly. Any event she does is guaranteed to be fun. She is a foodie herself and loves this Island. The perfect person to host such an event.
Sissy got it right out of the gate. She mentioned the great talent but more importantly, she mentioned that these authors provide us guidance with cooking and food.
I like that, “guidance.” Makes me have a little more ownership over my cooking.
Before we got to the cookbook authors, Jan Pogue from Vineyard Stories spoke. She and her husband and Vineyard Stories pioneered cookbooks on the Island.
Among one of the first published was from Morning Glory Farm. This was a cookbook unlike any other. It had gorgeous pictures and great stories in addition to the recipes featuring local food.
It was more than a cookbook. It inspired, provided connection, and showed a relationship between the recipes and their history.
This is true for many of the cookbooks from the Island today. We want more than just a recipe for good zucchini bread, we want connection to the land, to the author.
Sarah Waldman’s book Little Bites launched last week at Bunch of Grapes. This mother of two, a friend of mine, is truly an inspiration.
Dismayed by the fact that so much packaged food was marketed towards young children, she decided to create something with her friend, Christine Chitnis, which is Little Bites.
She uses local, natural ingredients to create family friendly snacks that are great alternatives to yogurt sticks and granola bars. Her recipes showcase that you can have really good, tasty kid friendly snacks that are healthy.
Karen Covey’s book, “The Coastal Table: Recipes Inspired by the Farmlands and Seaside of Southern New England” features recipes from New Englanders and chefs.
The style of recipes vary greatly since they’re all from different people. Some are recipes handed down through generations, others are from great Boston chefs. This book offers a glimpse into regional, coastal ingredients and flavor.
From Karen’s book, we sampled a beautiful green bean, tomato and frisse salad. It was so light and flavorful, and the frisee made it even a little playful.
Laurie David’s “The Family Cooks,” Co-Authored by Kristin Uhrenholdt was up next. Laurie and Sissy are friends, and have been for years, so their energy was amazing.
The one just happened to be Laurie. These two ladies gave us — and had — a good laugh. It was awesome.
Back on topic, Laurie shared the importance of family dining — that the benefits of eating meals together provided amazing results. It’s at the family dining table that family connects, shares stories, bonds. It’s the process of cooking together, the event that also adds to the quality of the family unit.
So many companies have made it seem bad to be in the kitchen cooking, that prepared, fast food with little effort is the way to go. Laurie says no way. It’s the process, the sharing, the time spent together, that should provide joy and strengthen a family.
She’s so right. It’s important to slow down, cook meals together, enjoy each other. After all, if we don’t teach our kids to cook, who will?
From The Family Cooks, we sampled Popcorn Cauliflower. It was super yummy. It felt like I was eating a treat, not something so healthy and good for me.
And it sure was. The amazing Susie Middleton was there with book “Fresh From the Farm” and prepared a beautiful and delicious summer gratin with potatoes and tomatoes from her farm, Green Island Farm (one of my favorites).
I love hearing Susie speak. She is a farmer, a chef, an editor, a true renaissance woman. Her words hit home, really resonate.
In her book, Susie offers you the knowledge of how to build your own farm stand. She also has so many amazing vegetarian recipes that will impress even those most skeptical of veggie eaters, including my husband.
Her cookbook is a common one used in our house. Lucky for us, another one is in the works
Susie’s gratin was paired with Joan Nathan’s Salmon Poisson – which is an amazing sauce that has been around for centuries. Our moderator, Sissy, was particularly excited about this delicious dish.
Joan is the author of 10 cookbooks including her most recent, “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.” She too is working on another book, “King Solomon’s Table.”
And like Laurie, Joan talked about the importance of sharing meals as a family, and that most Merit Scholars grew up having family meals. An interesting fact to be shared and one that really hammers home the importance of family meals.
The “Top Chef” of Martha’s Vineyard as Sissy referred to the chef whose dessert would wrap up our meal, was none other than Chris Fischer, whose cookbook “Beetlebung Farm” was released earlier this year.
For Chris, his love of food is a product of family meals. He had to be home every night by 6:30 p.m. There he would eat and absorb all the stories his grandfather would share at the table.
In the summer, there would even be family lunches that were potluck. People would bring whatever was just harvested from their farm or leftovers from dinner the night before. Food was an important part of their lives, daily.
Chris’ recipe was a blueberry cobbler, nothing says summer more. As a kid, he would tie a coffee tin around his neck and go blueberry picking with friends or family.
Such a simple little berry can give so much flavor and add a beautifully baked pastry, almost reminiscent of a scone. And voila, a perfect way to end an amazing food experience. However, a little fresh whipped cream would have made it even better.
The Martha’s Vineyard Magazine puts on this amazing event. There’s so much more I have to share from it. Each author was inspiring and truly offered “food for thought.”
It’s amazing how powerful food is. It gives you energy, can make you healthy, can strengthen a family, and to add to it all, we’re here in a wonderful place that provides a bounty of food and knowledge.
Keep an eye out for next year’s event. You don’t want to miss it. Also, all the cookbooks that were featured are available at Bunch of Grapes and Edgartown Books, so you don’t have to wait to get your own copies.
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