Q: First of all, what is in this cookbook?
A: It is two hundred recipes for everything from breads, soups, salads, stews and casseroles to cakes, cookies, pies and celebratory desserts. I am all about celebrating just about EVERYTHING so there are lots of fun recipes for parties. It is not a vegetarian cookbook, but it does include lots of recipes for fruits and vegetables from the garden. It is not a fussy cookbook or one that sticks to any dietary dogma. These are my favorite recipes for the scrumptious foods we cook all the time. AND every recipes shines because Alli Howe hand lettered and illustrated each page. One other thing in the cookbook is stories. I couldn’t help myself and had to tell some stories about the favorite cooks in my life. Funny stories.
This shot is meant to reassure worried meat eaters that there ARE meat recipes in our farm cookbook.
Q: What surprised you most about doing this Cookbook?
A: As we created the Cookbook, Alli’s art was a daily surprise. A THRILL really! I would hand her off a couple of recipes each night and she would come in the next day with the most extraordinary illustrations for the recipes. It was so much fun to see each day’s new drawings that I could hardly wait for her to arrive each morning. Every morning felt the way Christmas morning felt when I was a tiny child- there was that much happy anticipation and then complete delight in the one of a kind illustrations Alli had done.
Only Alli would have a reindeer tell you how many muffins a recipe makes!
I also found writing this cookbook unexpectedly healing. Like most everyone, I have had a lot of loss in my life, and this was a way to feel close again to some of the people and places I have lost. Telling the stories behind the recipes filled me with wonderful memories of important people in my life like my grandmother Kitty and places like Cranberry Lake in the Adironacks.
Q: Why is this a Green Hope Farm Cookbook and not just a Molly Sheehan Cookbook?
A; At this point, there is little if any difference between my life in the farm’s kitchen and my life at “work” fifty feet away in the Flower Essence wing. Farms are like that; everything is blended together.
While many of the recipes are from meals I have cooked for Jim and our kids, we now have three kitchen tables that get moved around the kitchen depending on our numbers. Often there is a crowd of farm helpers and friends at the tables as well as various family members. I love to cook for anyone who happens through the farm at any time day or night. I see pretty much every day as an occasion to celebrate with good food, so not only do we celebrate comings and goings, birthdays, weddings, milestones of all sorts but often just because we are together. These recipes are the things I cook for all these events.
Here are the three tables lined up for Thanksgiving dinner last week.
Q: Where do the recipes come from?
A: Lots are old family recipes, lots are ones friends have shared, many are recipes I made up and lots are from the lovely folks who have worked here over the years. I imagine most groups that work together share food. We just happen to have had a lot of great cooks here who have loved to bring in foods to share. Its been a multicultural group as well so there are recipes from the staff’s original homes in Japan, Costa Rica, South Africa, Lebanon and Cornwall, England.
Q: How would you describe your life in the kitchen?
A: My grandmother Kitty was a really fabulous cook with a lot of ideas about spices and unusual ingredients. She was the first one to teach me the adventure of food.
When I was a child everyone in my family made things from scratch, but as I learned to cook, I took this a little bit further. From a very early age I wanted to grow food in our backyard AND I wanted to find wild foods out in the woods and fields around our home. I made numerous wild harvested meals for my frightened family who just weren’t sure I had identified the plants correctly. I have included in the cookbook my recipe for Stuffed Grape Leaves which I make using wild grape leaves. That was one dish I made that my parents and siblings loved without fear!
I also loved crafty kitchen projects of all sorts like gingerbread house construction or making my own vanilla extract. When I was first married and teaching English to a bunch of hungry teenagers, I would make them snacks like homemade strudel with strudel dough I had hand pulled or french pastries with puff pastry I had made myself. The more complicated the cooking project the better. One rainy vacation in the Adirondacks, I made homemade croissants for a large crowd of wet relatives nine times in ten days. On the tenth day I made raised donuts.
As I raised our four children, I continued to have fun in the kitchen but also learned to streamline my efforts because no kid CARES that the puff pastry was made by hand if the dinner is four hours late. I think the kids would say almost all our food adventures were a success except for the two years I tried to make us into vegetarians. The kids still call those years “the seitan years” though this era did bring us some great recipes we still cook.
Q: Why a Cookbook right now?
A: For thirty five years I have had an enormous folder of tried and true recipes. A couple of times I have written up my favorite of these recipes and made a cookbook to share with ten or twenty people. My grandmother gave me the idea for these Cookbook projects as she made a Cookbook her two daughters. When Alli said she would love to illustrate a cookbook with me, I was excited to create a cookbook to share with EVERYONE connected to Green Hope Farm and beyond. It was a joyful project from start to finish.
One of my grandmother’s recipes- Her handwriting is very hard to read, so I am glad she typed her original Cookbook, The Copy Cat Cookbook.
This is the tattered and torn cover from the first Cookbook I did. I only made about a dozen copies and someone stole my sister’s copy from her car. At this point, the stolen copy is probably in better shape than my copy! Jim put all the tattered pieces into a three ring binder for me one Christmas. I seem to be hard on Cookbooks!
Q: Any more Cookbook creation in your future?
A: I hope so! Right now we are basking in the glow of this gorgeous book. Over Thanksgiving my copy got a workout as we made numerous items from the Cookbook for the crowd of sixteen we had for dinner. I was so glad to have all my favorite recipes under one roof.
As far as other Cookbooks. I would love to do another one with Alli. It was a blast to work with her! We have talked about doing one focused completely on the fruit and vegetable bounty of the farm. Today I realized it would also be really fun to get all our Green Hope Farm friends to send in their favorite recipes for a Cookbook created by all of you. It would be so fabulous to taste test all your submissions! We had quite a delicious summer re-checking our own recipes!!! Time will tell but in the meantime, we are so happy to share this Cookbook with you all!