Category Archives: Recipe

Suggested Summer Reading for Friends of Farms and Food

As the dog days of summer kick in, one of our favorite pastimes is catching up on reading about farm and food issues—ideally alongside a pool, beach or lake. Even if there is no water-based vacation in your future, we hope you get a chance to lounge in a yard or park—or even next to a fan somewhere indoors—while perusing one of the many latest books about farms, conservation and local food. Here we offer five reading suggestions from staff at American Farmland Trust.

DirtDirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, William Bryant Logan

In this collection of essays, arborist and gardening writer William Bryant Logan explains why the Earth’s soil is so special—and why it’s essential to life as we know it. In elegant prose, Logan describes how our planet’s dirt—a resource we lose when farmland is developed or farmed without the necessary conservation practices—is fragile, but must be protected because we owe our very lives to it.

TENDER:farmers,cooks,eaters: Simple Ways to Enjoy Eating, Cooking and Choosing Our Food, Tamara Murphy

This coffee-table-book-sized collection of recipes and meditations on cooking by Northwest chef Tamara Murphy is the perfect resource for anyone who likes to shop at farmers markets. Murphy, a James Beard Award winner, reminds us that simple is often best when we cook with real food grown by local farms, and her recipes—many containing only a few ingredients—celebrate healthy, whole, seasonal farm-fresh goods.

Fair FoodFair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, Oran Hesterman

The food system is broken, argues Dr. Oran Hesterman, who runs the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based nonprofit Fair Food Network. Agricultural runoff into waterways, soaring rates of obesity and diet-related illnesses, and chronic loss of farmland to urban and suburban sprawl are all symptoms. In this book, Hesterman offers a vision for fixing the problems by changing not just what we eat but how our food is grown and sold—and by shifting the public policy that shapes much of our current farm and food system.

In the Small KitchenIn the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World, Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine

A recent article tagged the current generation the “gourmet generation,” as young people increasingly are being more food-aware and interested in the issues surrounding local farms and food. This cookbook by two young authors is a good place to start for budding young food enthusiasts, especially for those who live in cramped dorm rooms or urban apartments with little access to expensive cooking gear.

American Farmland MagazineAmerican Farmland magazine

What would a summer reading list be if we didn’t plug ourselves? Stay on top of the latest issues in farm and food policy—and receive more in depth information about what American Farmland Trust is up to as we fight to save the land that sustains us, by subscribing to our thrice-a-year full color magazine.

P.S. You can never read too many great books. If we missed your favorite summer farm and food read, leave us a comment on our summer book list post!

Kirsten Ferguson
About the Author: Kirsten Ferguson is Editor/Writer for American Farmland Trust. She works in the Saratoga, NY office and can be reached at

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Tipping for Farmland

Imagine an evening of cocktails and nibbles with fellow farmland enthusiasts. That’s what happened on a frigid evening in Chicago when American Farmland Trust fans braved the cold to save farmland.

(L to R): Chef George Bumbaris, Anita Zurbrugg, Janine MacLachlan, David Sviland, Chef Sarah Stegner

Food star Sarah Stegner, chef/partner at Prairie Fire in Chicago, has been a tireless advocate for local food. She’s a co-founder of Chicago’s Green City Market, widely considered one of the best in the nation for its focus on producers who farm with care for the environment and for setting higher standards for the entire region. I first got to know Sarah years ago when I served on Green City’s organizing board.

When she invited me to serve as guest bartender at Prairie Fire there was no question about which cocktail I’d make and which not-for-profit would get my tips.

My cocktail would be a Midwest Manhattan made with Templeton Rye, a craft distillery in Iowa using a prohibition-era recipe and some Michigan cherries. I had met president Scott Bush at the Des Moines farmers market where he was selling rye whiskey barbecue sauce created by one of his partners Michael Killmer. Delicious discoveries like this were highlights of my road trip across eight Midwestern states to research my upcoming book, Seasonal Markets of the Heartland.

It was during my research that I also met a number of the dynamic team members behind American Farmland Trust.  I had known supporters of the organization for some time, but got more enamored when I learned about the work they do to help farmland stay in agriculture and stem the loss of land to development. The effervescent Anita Zurbrugg traveled from DeKalb, Illinois, to join the festivities. And Chef Sarah made sandwiches from Tallgrass Beef and rye bread custom baked by Bennison’s Bakery.

All in all, it was a convivial group with a passion for farms and an easy way to help engage others in supporting local farms and food.

Midwest Manhattan

Templeton Rye is the perfect golden whiskey here, set off by cherries from my home state of Michigan, steeped in a boozy concoction created by Prairie Fire mixologist Daniel Sviland.

Anita Zurbrugg and Janine MacLachlan get a lesson from mixologist David Sviland.

Makes one

1½ jiggers Templeton Rye small batch

1 jigger sweet vermouth

1 squirt (about two teaspoons) boozy cherry juice

3 boozy Michigan cherries

whisper of bitters

Put a handful of ice into a cocktail shaker, then add Templeton Rye, sweet vermouth and boozy cherry juice.  Shake well, then pour into a glass. Top with bitters and add boozy cherries. Of course, you can vary the proportions according to your taste.

Boozy cherry juice

Stir together equal parts brandy, sweet vermouth, maraschino syrup and simple syrup. The amount will vary depending on how many cherries you want to steep, but a half cup each should be enough for a several cups of cherries. Add pitted cherries, cover and refrigerate for four days or up to six weeks.

How to make simple syrup:  boil equal parts sugar and water until slightly thickened, about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

About the Author: Janine MacLachlan is a food writer, farm groupie and author of Seasonal Markets of the Heartland, to be published in spring 2012 by University of Illinois Press.  She’s been devoted to local food for years, working with Slow Food and Chicago’s Green City Market to pave the way for small farmers to connect with eager eaters. Visit her blog at or follow her on Twitter.

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