Eat Feed Autumn Winter
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m absolutely smitten. I haven’t been this taken with someone or something since the day I met D. You know how that first encounter makes you wish for more time together. You dream of being curled up on the couch together, basking in the soft puddle of light from a solitary lamp, maybe an afghan pulled over your knees. “When? When will be we together again? Can I see you tonight? I’ll cancel my meeting…”
Now for the shocking confession: I’m talking about a cookbook! It’s true! Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter cookbook is utterly irresistible and, yes, so charming it will sweep you off your feet. And guess what? The recipes are delicious too!
When Anne asked me to review this gorgeous book, I had no idea what I was in for. To start with, the talent of the team that put this book together is incredible. The elegance of the layout, the styling of the food, the quality of the photos, the wit of the sidebars, and the overall welcoming soft atmosphere speaks volumes even before you’ve tried a single recipe. I spent two days just hungrily reading this book before I even started contemplating what recipe to try first. Really, it’s just plain addictive.
Now, about that title: I too was a bit confused when I first read it. See, Anne, unbeknownst to me until I got this book, has a hugely successful podcast – an online radio show in essence – called Eat Feed. Since discovering this, I’ve been listening to as many of her archives as I can fit into my spare time (along with thumbing the pages of her book) and have come to realize this woman really knows how to spin a tale about food. I’m immensely impressed with her all around.
So, anyway, back to the title of the book. The remainder of the title bears tribute to the theme of the book, which is “30 ways to celebrate when the mercury drops”. Anne compiles her recipes into said number of vignettes, such as “Highlands Hogmanay”, “Fireside Chat”, and “Traveling the Spice Route”. Each of these creative themes includes three or four recipes and usually a historical quip or two. The overarching idea being to present fun excuses for gathering friends and family together during the dark short days of winter to light them up with good food and merriment. Like I said, “charming.”
To step aside for a moment from my tween-like-cyber-squeeling-at-the-sight-of-the-coolest-cookbook-ever, I do have one little bitty piece of criticism about the book. On the inside of the jacket, in the introduction where I, being the good literature major, naturally started my reading, it says “Everybody talks about eating seasonally. But that’s easier to accomplish in summer….Being a consummate (and truly seasonal) cold-weather cook takes real creativity – and a deep enthusiasm for the fortifying pleasures of the autumn and wintertime table.” Oh how I almost jumped for glee in my reading chair! Finally, I was going to get loads of great recipes for winter squash, rutabaga, celery root, kale, collards, parsnips and all those other tricky cold-season vegetables.
Well, there are a few recipes for most of those, but really, I don’t think Anne’s goal in this book, even if it came across in that very first introductory paragraph, was to present recipes for locally grown produce in autumn and winter. Or, if that was her goal, she fell a bit short when she listed citrus and chocolate as main staples in the winter pantry. Neither of those are easy to come by locally in most of the continental United States in January.
But, hey, having said that, guess what I’m about to do? I’m going to use some locally grown lemons in a recipe from Eat Feed Autumn Winter! Ha!! How’s that for irony? I happen to have friends who have the world’s most productive indoor lemon tree growing in their kitchen. These same friends also happen to throw intimate dinner parties about every other week or so. When I got an invite to the last one, I immediately remembered seeing Anne’s recipe for a loaf of lemon tea bread.
In a post way back in the archives somewhere (oh yes, it’s here), I’d once experimented with pairing lemon and rosemary together and I quite liked it. So, I decided to add a little to this new recipe to make Lemon Rosemary Tea Bread and dressed it up a bit with some fluffy frosting and flower garnish to make it presentable for dessert after a nice dinner.
This is the part where I get to tell you that Anne’s book isn’t just another pretty cover on the shelf, it’s also quite useful in the kitchen. This bread-turned-cake was superbly moist, subtly sweet, lemony and quite happy with the addition of the rosemary. Really, it’s not just for tea. I happily ate slices from a second unfrosted loaf for breakfast, lunch and, well, a mid-afternoon snack that did involve a cup of tea.
If you have a foodie on your holiday gift list, this book is sure to be a huge hit with them. And if you happen to need one last gift idea for yourself so your dear old great aunt doesn’t give you yet another sweater three sizes too big, I pretty confident you’d be much happier suggesting she get you a copy of Eat Feed Autumn Winter.
Lemon Rosemary Tea Bread (cake really)
Adapted from Eat Feed Autumn Winter
2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg
½ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
½ C. buttermilk
4 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ C. sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
2 t. finely minced fresh rosemary
1 large egg
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
¼ t. salt
3/4 C. milk (soy milk works fine too)
1 C. vegetable shortening
3 ½ – 4 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 t. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 inched loaf pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and buttermilk. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add lemon zest and rosemary. Beat in the egg. Add half the lemon juice mixture and mix well. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add remaining lemon juice mixture and then the remaining dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix (ingredients should be incorporated evenly, but batter does not need to be smooth).
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before serving. Store in the fridge but serve at room temperature for full flavor. Tastes even better the second day.
If making the icing, combine the flour and salt in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth; cook and stir over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Add chilled milk mixture; beat for 7 minutes or until fluffy. Taste and add more sugar as desired. Frost cake and serve.
(makes 1 loaf/cake)