Cookbook is bountiful tribute to Midwest fare"Prairie Home Cooking" (Harvard Common Press)
By Judith M. Fertig
November 30, 1999
By Wendy Wolfenbarger
(CNN) -- "Prairie Home Cooking" winds sweetly into the history of the Midwest through honeysuckle lemonade and buttermilk-oatmeal bread.
Food writer and Missouri resident Judith M. Fertig has written an endearing and incredibly complete work on the dishes and dinners of the Midwest, a mix of food for survival and home country traditions of the those who settled the nation's breadbasket.
This hefty work is a book to read, page by page. Recipes are accompanied by text explaining cultural and practical origins. Each is a colorful tale of families and farms that revolved around the daily duty of putting food on the table.
Fertig emphasizes the foods of the numerous nationalities that poured into the area in the 19th century, from Polish Garlic Dill Pickles to Swedish Midsommersdag Elderberry Syrup.
Her Midwest is large, spanning Ohio to North Dakota to Missouri. Food comes from the farms and the riverside cities, and is dated from the first days of settlement to the supermarket food of the '50s. Some recipes are updated with a modern touch, such as Heartland Parsley Pesto. Others, like Czech Poppy Seed Cookies, are true to their beginnings.
Mini-articles throughout explain the lure of wild rice, the popularity of sausages and the rebirth of local breweries.
It's almost impossible to image that any recipe, foodstuff or tidbit of knowledge could be lacking. And, oh yes -- the recipes are reliable, simple, authentic and complete.
Through it all, host of 'A Prairie Home Companion' is a writer
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