The Field to Table Cookbook

field to table cover

The Field to Table Cookbook by Susan L. Ebert, Welcome Books 2016, hardback $40.00, 288 pages

The perils of duck hunting are great–especially for the duck.  

Walter Cronkite

Most people would look at a field and see a bucolic view; Susan Ebert sees dinner.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about cleaning up your eating–signing up for a CSA and purging the cabinets of cheetos and oreos.

Ebert is way ahead of you. She has embraced the earth and all its fruits, so naturally, in this book, her recipes divided by season and source. From September’s generous harvest to putting up oysters for the winter’s celebration meals. In spring, the emergence of growth means Sassafras Tea and Dandelion Fritters. And the summer’s sear is cooled with white Sangria and Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Ebert gardens with saved seeds, and makes it sound easy. Just shake the seeds off of bolted lettuce and let okra and pepper seeds dry on the plant. As for the tricky gooey ones like tomatoes, leave them to ferment a few days in water–let the resulting mold eat up the goo. Who knew!

She’s based in Texas, so her foraging includes the tunas of the prickly pear plant that she uses to make a jelly spiked with the bright red berries of wild chili pequins. She uses wild persimmons in sweet kolache buns, and mesquite flour in her biscuits. But beyond Texas and the Southwest, foragers can find the salicornia and Red Bud blossoms that Ebert pickles.

She loves the exciting  zing of a spinning fishing reel–whether it’s a flounder, redfish, or speckled trout on the end of the line. And once your creel is full, Ebert guides you through smoking a trout, skinning a catfish, or stuffing a flounder.

Her hunting begins with the dove season opener in September and extends to her backyard chickens, whose eggs, she warns, are not free after you figure in the expense of buying the chickens, building their coop, and paying for the feed and bedding. But, she says the bright orange yolk and high-shouldered whites make her “weep with joy.” But back to hunting–chickens live longer than they lay–so there is a decision to be made.

Ebert takes a no-nonsense approach. Your food comes from somewhere, and you might as well have some control over where. She began with organic gardening on the staff of Rodale’s Organic Gardening, and as the publisher and editor of Texas Parks & Wildlife realized that the meat and fish her family ate should be just as organic as the produce. Ebert now views hunting and fishing as “sacred missions.”

This book is a conversation about food, safety and ethics, but also the recollections of hunting and fishing expeditions, walks that yielded a meal, and traded tips for gardeners. There are stories of Burgoo parties and a menu for an iconic Independence Day picnic–a spread that includes fried chicken, deviled eggs, fresh melon salad, and a grits and okra casserole.

All these recipes may not always fit your lifestyle (though many will) but they are bright and truly authentic.

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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