Living green-and loving it!
These inspirational how-to books from expert eco-conscious authors will have you eating and living green!
Reducing one’s carbon footprint does not mean forgoing good taste. As Rachelle Carson-Begley, Ed Begley, Jr.’s wife and co-star of HGTV’s “Living With Ed” knows, it does mean replacing the Mercedes with a Schwinn or her Jimmy Choos with Converse, but being a spokeswoman for everyday eco-consciousness is worth it. Join the Begleys, Natalie Chanin, founder and head designer of Alabama Chanin which recycles cotton T-shirts into high fashion, and many of our unsung fellow Americans to live green and live well. These user-friendly, entertaining, and stylish books on food, home décor, and the philosophy of sustainable living answer lots of our questions on how we can pamper the planet—and ourselves.
"The joys of eating local."
Why did we ever stop eating locally? In 2007, The New Oxford American Dictionary chose “locavore” as its word of the year, defining it as someone who eats only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius. Well, until the early 20th century, according to Barbara Kingsolver in her entertaining and informative collaboration with her husband Steven L. Hopp and their daughter Camille, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (HarperCollins, May 2007, now in trade paperback), that’s how we all ate. A tasty, colorful tomato was to be had in most of the U.S. in late summer…period. The sweet anticipation for your favorite fruit or vegetable was enough to keep you going the rest of the year. Kingsolver, Hopp, and their two daughters, Camille and her younger sister Lily, returned to family-owned land in the southern Appalachians, intent on eating locally for a year. This book, winner of a 2008 James Beard Award, is a tribute to home, family, and the humble ingredients of our ancestors’ simple and somehow richer lives. If you love Kingsolver’s classic novels, among them The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible, you’ll enjoy getting to know this talented novelist. If your mouth waters at the thought of new potatoes with fresh-from-the-garden parsley and sweet butter, you’ll be turning out Camille’s recipes with pleasure.
According to Barry Wine, the founder of the legendary New York City restaurant, The Quilted Giraffe and a much sought after restaurant and design consultant for hotels and real estate developers, he is still a passionate cook using the best of local ingredients in the kitchen he designed for his home in New Paltz, New York. “It used to be that you looked in a cookbook for a recipe and then you went shopping for the ingredients called for by that recipe. Because the Quilted Giraffe began in New Paltz in upstate New York where there were several farm gardens and we had a large garden. I learned early on to let the day’s harvest dictate what I would be cooking that night. You say to yourself, for example, ‘I have corn, onions, peppers, wild mushrooms and potatoes—what can I cook with them?’ Easy answer, make soup. Today that seems like a normal way to approach cooking," says Wine. “While the shift to eating local feels somewhat new it really is something that many chefs have tried to do all along. When we opened The Quilted Giraffe in 1975, we were inspired by chefs such as Michel Guérard of France who created a restaurant with its own gardens at Eugénie-Les-Bains. We had a small vegetable garden at our country home in upstate New York so it seemed only natural to take them to The Quilted Giraffe’s kitchen and cook with them," and Wine advises home cooks to take inspiration from innovative chefs.
The 21st Century “Nouvelle Cuisine” How do those of us who don’t have acreage eat local? Jim Denevan started an organization to unite people and places through farm dinners. His beautifully photographed cookbook, Outstanding in the Field (Clarkson Potter, June 2008), offers more than 100 recipes for dishes that are a cut above a quick grilled veggie plate, such as Corn Chowder with Marjoram and Sea Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas & Chervil. The photos throughout of dinners he’s sponsored in vineyards and farms around the country provide inspiration for entertaining your friends with today’s hottest trend.
"Access to farm-fresh ingredients has not always been possible without a long trip to the country, but today the farmers are coming from the country and bringing their produce to markets," says Wine, "we don’t have to go to them, they come to us. Home cooks now have the alternative of finding what is best at their local farmer’s market, taking it home and then asking themselves ‘What can I do with these ingredients tonight?' My approach to food has always been to let the food take the lead. In order for that to work, the food needs to be great and for me good means local, fresh and organic. Add a touch of love and care and you will have a super meal.”
"Everything old is new again."
Bringing the Outdoors Indoors—With Style At home, the cost and the changes necessary to be eco-conscious can be daunting. Judith Wilson’s The Natural Home (Jacqui Small, April 2008) put the emphasis squarely on great style while she helps you source nature-inspired decorative accessories, architectural salvage, and reclaimed flooring. You’ll find that you spend less for something recycled than something new, it has patina and an intriguing history that makes for great cocktail-party conversation, and you’re on exciting shopping sprees miles from overcrowded malls and mass-produced junk. Wilson’s ideas work with any décor. Whether you love shabby chic, modern, retro, or country, the neutral colors, distressed wood, found objects, and sunshine Wilson brings into your life will do wonders for your outlook.
Unlike other flash-in-the-pan trends, living green looks to be a keeper. Invest wisely in sensible books and you’ll be well prepared for the brave new-old world of heirloom foods, chic re-purposed home décor, and utility bills that don’t rival Harvard University tuition.
A note from Beth Goehring: "I am so excited to write about books for CESLIE-The Women's Network™. Reading is not only a lifelong passion, but it's my job. As the editor-in-chief for a group of book clubs that includes Book-of-the-Month Club®, The Literary Guild®, Doubleday Book Club®, Mystery Guild®, and The Good Cook®, I hear the early buzz about what will soon be hot in everything from autobiography to zoology. In any week, my colleagues and I review hundreds of upcoming books to choose those that really deliver, whether it's with fascinating characters, an unforgettable story, a vicarious thrill, a wealth of useful information or compelling inspiration. Hands-down, the best thing about my job is finding that hidden gem, a novel that wasn't lavished with a huge marketing budget, not for lack of charm or quality, but because of a publisher's limited resources. When I can make a match between one of these unsung heroes and a grateful reader, then I've done my job well!"