So how did The Beekman 1802 cookbook find its way to my hands? I borrowed it from the library when it caught my eye on the nonfiction new release shelf! [see my post Library Loot L] When I read the title and then saw the cover, I immediately albeit erringly, presumed the cookbook was for The Beekman Arms Inn and Tavern in Rhinebeck, New York, of which I am slightly familiar as it is near to the home of a very dear friend of mine. I'd driven past The Beekman Arms several times on visits with my friend, who joyfully points it out and reminisces about the meals she has enjoyed there on special occasions with her husband. Excited by my small personal connection to the cookbook, I enthusiastically checked this cookbook out from the library, anxious to explore it thoroughly. I already classified the cookbook as the perfect gift for my friend--a gift that I could test drive for free! Later that evening, as I sat in my favorite reading chair with this cookbook open on my lap, I came to realize with great disappointment that this cookbook is from an altogether different Beekman. Still in upstate New York, just not in Rhinebeck and not my friend's Beekman. Despite this initial set back in my enthusiasm for this cookbook, I continued to read it and enjoyed it very much.
I'd like to first clarify the title a bit. The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is so named because 'The Beekman' homestead and farm was established in 1802 and the 'Heirloom' part of the title represents many of the heirloom recipes that the authors have collected and created are based on recipes that have been passed on to them from family and friends over the years and generations. I think it's important to be upfront that the recipes themselves are not necessarily indicative of the turn of the 19th century, although one can rightfully imagine many of the seasonal ingredients called for in the cookbook are grown at The Beekman and other local, organic farms and backyard gardens throughout the country by the same, traditional growing methods that were used in 1802. I'd like to think so, anyway.
The cookbook is organized in my very favorite way--by season. It's the way I cook at home, based on the seasonal organic produce that comes in my co-op every other week, which utilizes local produce as much as possible. The recipes showcase the best of seasonal produce in rural upstate New York, which is a little location specific but I think the items are still fruits and vegetables that can be found fresh in many farmer's markets during their peak season throughout the continental US. If not, you may be inspired to grow some yourself!
Most of the recipes are rather common, classic American fare--such as roasted vegetables, roasted meats, salads, vegetable side dishes, pies and crumbles. These are likely recipes that I have made on my own without recipes or from recipes that are very similar in other cookbooks or even current cooking magazines. Not that there's anything objectionable about that! However, if you are a fairly experienced home cook, chances are you already have a reliable version of those recipes in your repertoire. If you are a relative new comer to the world of home cooking, have recently joined a CSA or co-op, or you have your own vegetable garden, these recipes will likely appeal to you.
If unique and inspirational recipes are more your preference, don't be too discouraged. Dispersed among the many basic recipes are a few gems that stand out as unique and special that still showcase seasonal ingredients. Recipes that I copied down try over the seasons are:
Mint Lemon Cooler
Homemade Lemonade with Lavender and Vanilla
Corn Chowder Salad
Quick Bread-and-Butter Pickles
Butternut Squash-Filled Lasagna Rolls
Harvest Beef Chili with Pumpkin and Beans
Roast Pork Loin with Gingerbread Stuffing
Overall I think The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is a very nice basic seasonal cookbook that emphasizes fresh, seasonal produce, cheeses and meats that many readers and home cooks would enjoy.
You can visit The Beekman Boys at their website Beekman1802.com.
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