I hesitate to call this book a cookbook, although it is marketed as such and includes over 700 recipes. It could accurately be called a textbook or a book that presents a different way of thinking about nutrition. It is filled with tidbits of knowledge about how we ate before the Industrial Revolution and why this author thinks we should all still eat this way. Ms. Fallon proposes that many of the health problems that plague our current society, including reproductive issues and diabetes, are linked to the consumption of processed foods that our bodies simply do not know how to process. Makes sense to me.
A New Way of Looking at Nutrition
Her answer? Imagine that you lived on a small farm about 200 years ago; that you had chickens, milk cows, goats and a garden. That the majority of the food you and your family ate was what you could produce yourselves. That your milk was not pasteurized, that your cheese sat on your countertop until you ate it, that you made your own yogurt by letting milk sit in the sun. That many of your foods were fermented and you made your own beer. This kind of diet is the one presented in this book. Ms. Fallon says that it is not that we eat too much fat, it is that we eat the wrong kinds of fats. That fermented foods and drinks help us to digest our foods and are beneficial to our digestive systems. That animal fats are important to the proper functioning of our bodies. Her perspective is definitely different than mainstream nutrition experts and worth exploring.
But, Do the Recipes Taste Good?
Recently, I needed to make a cake for a family birthday party, so I choose the carrot cake recipe out of Nourishing Traditions. I had to substitute a few of the ingredients since I did not have freshly ground whole spelt flour, although I did have whole spelt flour. Also, one of the family is allergic to honey, so I used powdered sugar in the frosting instead. The recipe calls for you to mix yogurt, creme fraiche and the flour together and let it sit in a warm place for 12-24 hours. I did this the night before I was going to bake and let the bowl sit in my oven. The pilot light kept it nice and toasty.
The next morning, I followed the rest of the recipe, grating 2 cups of carrots, and mixing the batter together. From the bit I swiped with a spoon, it tasted pretty darn good. The cake baked at 300 degrees for two hours in a “buttered, parchment paper lined pan.” My hubby and I both agreed that buttered parchment paper sounded like something you should be able to eat! It smelled heavenly while it was baking.
After I took it out of the oven, I learned that the parchment paper made taking it out of the pan really easy- a point to remember for later baking. It did not rise very much, as you can see from the picture, but everyone at the birthday party agreed that it was one of the best carrot cakes they had ever tasted. It was dense, very moist and had a slightly tangy flavor that was delicious. I assume this was from letting the flour ferment with the yogurt and creme fraiche.
Nourishing Traditions is a cookbook I will come back to. I like Sally Fallon’s perspective on diet and health; it appeals to my instincts that tell me that living “close to the dirt,” as we say in our house, is the healthiest way to be. Although I doubt I am going to be grinding my own flour anytime soon, I can see making my own yogurt. I am looking forward to trying more of the recipes from this fascinating book.