There’s nothing I need more after a vacation of beer, BBQ, and smoked things than to cozy up in a corner and fall into a book about vegetables. My girl Andrea Bemis allowed me to do just that with her new cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt.
I’ve had a farm crush on Andrea for about a year now. Ever since my Whisk friends came out to our farm for a work day and told me about her, I started following Andrea’s farm girl life through her blog. Andrea is never shy about her story and I respect that greatly. Her candidness last August on the blog during a similarly hard season gave me strength. I fell in love immediately finding comfort, beauty and understanding during a very difficult year for me on the farm.
Her cookbook is no different. It does an equally beautiful job of sharing romantic moments of farm joy alongside struggles of the body and spirit. The Dishing Up the Dirt cookbook begins where the farm begins: in the greenhouse. Andrea doesn’t just tell about the joy found in a sunny, warm greenhouse. She also shares the constant nagging fear of a mother concerned for her 20,000 babies during a cold spring night. And how the simple moment when your husband tells you to go back to bed because he will wake up and check on the greenhouse is one of the purest acts of love on the farm.
To me, these are the moments on the farm that mean the most. It’s not just beautiful pictures of farm fields and stunning bowls of healthy food (though the book is absolutely also filled with these breathtaking views into Andrea’s life). It’s the real shit. The acts of love, self strength, perseverance and absolute wonder. It’s the cold beers enjoyed after a long day of physical labor and the plates of vegetables devoured with immense pride. I love all the ways Andrea shares her unique story.
The recipes in this cookbook are equally beautiful. Andrea cooks with a simple elegance that is approachable and interesting all at the same time. She loves cooking with things like tahini, coconut milk, chickpeas and cardamom: absolute staples in our household. Sometimes I think she wrote these recipes for me. Every single page is chock full of veggies and nourishment.
The recipes flow through the seasons beginning in spring with strawberry muffins and salsa, simple salads of arugula with crunchy lentils, miso, honey-glazed radishes and beautiful bowls topped with asparagus. Summer is bright and abundant with dishes that feature sweet corn, zucchini, beets and tomatoes. Autumn starts with a section about preserving the harvest (a frenzied activity known well by all farmers and gardeners) and then transitions into beautiful recipes of fall wonder such as brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, lemon and parmesan or honey & cardamom whipped sweet potatoes. Winter ends the cookbook with a feast of soups, storage crops and holiday-inspired cocktails.
Andrea’s story and cookbook are utterly enchanting. A tale of a wandering spirit who met her true love on a dude ranch in Montana and followed her dreams where they took her, never expecting to be a farmer but falling deeply in love with her craft. Her authenticity and love of good, simple food is inspiring and I’m so glad to have this cookbook as a resource on a rainy day when our own farm life feels too overwhelming.
Stay strong and beautiful all my powerful farmer ladies,
WINTER TABBOULEH SALAD
Reprinted with permission from Dishing Up the Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons.
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt
3/4 cup bulgur
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock, homemade or storebought
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 of a small red onion, diced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Feta cheese crumbles
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the squash with the oil and 1/2 teaspoons salt and spread it on the baking sheet. Roast until the squash is lightly browned and fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Toss it halfway through cooking.
- In a medium-sized pot, combine the bulgur and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook the bulgur for 10 to 13 minutes or until tender. With the lid still on the pan, set the bulgur aside to rest for about 5 minutes, then fluff it with a fork.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, roasted squash, parsley, mint, red onion, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and chickpeas.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cinnamon, honey, and oil. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the salad and toss until it is well combined. Season the salad with extra salt and pepper and sprinkle it with crumbled feta cheese, if you like.