Eugenia Bone, an award-winning cookbook author, is taking a crack at changing the way we look at food, shop for it and cook it. She was a guest on my "KVOR Table Talk" radio show one Saturday and talked about her latest cookbook, "The Kitchen Ecosystem," where she presents a system of "cooking as a continuum, where each meal draws on elements from a previous one, providing the building blocks for another."
"I discovered that most of my favorite ingredients could be used in three ways," she said. "I could eat some fresh, preserve some and turn the stuff I would normally toss into useful ingredients. I was creating, in essence, a kind of perpetual pantry. Preserved foods and products made from preparing one dish could boost the flavor in the next dish."
A classic example is something you might already do: Roast a chicken for dinner on Tuesday, then use the bones to make chicken stock for Wednesday's soup. However, Bone has dreamed up ideas for applying this concept to foods like artichokes, beef, carrots, corn and fruits. She has chapters for more than 43 individual foods. At the end of the book she covers details about preserving foods, including canning. And since she lives part time in Colorado she had instructions for high-altitude canning.
The book's chapters are arranged by ingredients and show how to use each in the three ways she noted above. The section devoted to zucchini, for example, has creative ways to enjoy the summer fruit. You can use it (fresh) in a flan or shred it into polenta or Zucchini Carpaccio. There are recipes for preserving it as roasted zucchini in balsamic vinegar to use later in the winter to flavor caponata or to make zucchini pickles, which can be used on her Cuban sandwiches.
And if you really want to use what Bone calls the "waste stream of foods," the brine from the pickles can be used to make her Ranch Pickle Juice Dressing, which she pours over iceberg wedges.
The day she called in for the radio show she gave us an example of how she uses "waste stream food." She was making a carrot top pesto to serve at a book signing later that day in Steamboat Springs.
"First of all, if you buy carrots without the tops, you are getting ripped off," she said. "Use the greens for this delicious and refreshing dish. It's so easy to make. But the greens need to be blanched or the pesto will taste too grassy."
The recipe follows, which she suggests using on grilled flank steak, a recipe that is in her cookbook.
Talk about using your noodle to reduce your carbon footprint!
The "ecosystem" in the book title is what she calls her kitchen. She sees it as a place where foods and meals and ingredients are all interconnected.
With the fall harvest in full swing, this cookbook can become your go-to source for ideas on how to prepare and store the bounty. Bone has done all the thinking for you. The recipes are not complicated, and the ones I've tried have rewarded my family with great flavor combinations.
Yeah, my book is getting dog-eared and grease spattered. But the bottom line is, I love feeling smug about using every last bit of all the food coming into my kitchen.
The cookbook is available at all major bookstores and on amazon.com.