Saturday, April 21, 2012

REVIEW: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell with Sandy Gluck

The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is written by "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. The boys are the stars of the highly rated Planet Green tv show of the same name. Maybe some of you are familiar with the show? I don't watch tv so much, so I'm afraid I've never heard of these boys or their show before. They also have a website brimming with content related to their homestead and tv show. See

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

Orange Gingerbread

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

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Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun! 

Note: your post does not have to be posted on the weekend, but do visit Beth's blog over the weekend to link up your post. 


  1. thanks for the great review! i really want to check out this cookbook.

  2. I actually had a different association with it ;). Beekman is quite a common surname in our country so I wondered whether the family would have Dutch origins (many Dutch emigrated to the USA ;)
    How interesting is it that everyone has different associations by things/names.
    I like to follow the seasons when cooking as well. Although at the same time I'm aware (at least over here that's the case) that in these years it doesn't say so much anymore. Lots of veggies are imported from other countries. Especially when living in the city.
    I especially like the autumn recipes you noted down. They sound very much like comfort food.

  3. You definitely were more positive than I was. But really, the recipes look doable and the flavor combinations good. On the other hand, like you, I wasn't inspired.

  4. What are the odds of you and Beth reviewing this the same day! If you read the reviews, you really do say some of the same things about there being pretty basic recipes in there. You focused a bit more on a few gems than she did but overall between the two of you, I feel as if I know what the cookbook is about. :)

  5. hmmm...the orange gingerbread sounds good. Wish I had a piece right now...

  6. :)
    That sounds so good! I like the idea of seasonal organizing too! :)
    Thanks for sharing the review, ;)

  7. Interesting review. A different take on the book to Beth, but overall neither of you appear to be inspired by the book and as someone who would have to buy an American book from a UK supplier I would not make the effort!( list this at £15). What a shame the book did not live up to it's expectations.

  8. The Orange Gingerbread has possibilities. Sometimes my gingerbread is a little too "gingery" to the kids. LOL Adding the orange flavor could balance that nicely.

  9. Thank you all for checking out my Weekend Cooking review of The Beekman 1802 Cookbook! As I sat down with this post in front of me just now, I just realized I forgot to copy down two of the recipes before returning the book to the library! I'll have to do that the next time I visit the library.. if it's not taken out by someone else!

    Carrie :: Hope you enjoy this one!

    cessie :: Actually, yes! In the introduction, the authors do say that the farm has Dutch origins! They even said that they tried to have the photographs take on the qualities of early 1800 Dutch still life paintings. The recipes, though, are pretty contemporary American. I think! I'm not an expert on that sort of thing.

    Oh that's the same here--produce is imported from around the world all year long here, too. On one hand it's great to have access to any ingredient you want whenever you want... but there is a cost to it and that's wherein I find the huge downfall of imported produce. The cost to the environment is not worth it to me, and so I try to cast my vote, so to speak, by buying local and consequently, seasonal, whenever I can. I'm not extremely strict about this, though. For example, bananas are a staple in our house and I buy them all year long.

    Beth F :: Yes, my review is a bit more positive, but our opinions ran along the same vein--unoriginal, uninspired recipes. I'm glad I borrowed this one from the library.

    Carole :: Thanks for visiting! :)

    Libby Rodriguez :: I was so surprised--and excited to see that Beth and I reviewed the same cookbook on the same day. Great minds and all that. ;)

    caite :: I wish I had a piece of Orange Gingerbread right now, too...

    Alex :: Thanks for reading my review of this cookbook! :)

    Anglers Rest :: It is disappointing that this cookbook didn't 'wow' Beth or I, but glad we could help readers like you decide on whether or not they'd want to invest in it.

    Leslie :: I haven't made gingerbread in years! I can't wait to try this one in the fall. Hope I remember I have it written down! LOL!


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