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Maine author's cookbook highlights in-season cooking

09/24/2015

From summer squash and eggplant to kohlrabi and fiddleheads, a seasonal cookbook by Maine author Elise Richer gives readers a month-by-month look at ideas for using local ingredients in their cooking all year-round.

Richer’s book “Always in Season,” originally published in 2013, was recently released as a paperback edition from Islandport Press, and it is available in the Close to Home section of Hannaford stores in Yarmouth, West Falmouth, Westbrook and Scarborough.

Richer of Portland was inspired to write the book after hearing someone lament more dried beans while picking up a farm share one winter.

“I feel like it’s very easy to write a farmers market book in California, but when you are looking at another box full of beets, turnips and cabbage … I felt like that was more of a niche that hadn’t really been filled,” said Richer.

Divided by months, each chapter features four to six ingredients that can be found locally in New England at that time of year. Recipes range from maple custard pie to kale and chickpea soup, and they reach a range of tastes and appetites. Richer said that narrowing down which ingredients to feature was among the hardest parts of writing the book.

“It’s sort of the whole challenge of eating in season in New England. I had to spread things out. Like, I think, some of the months it’s like maple syrup or honey because there’s nothing in season,” said Richer. Other months, there’s so much in season that it was hard to choose just a few.

“We tried to do a balance [of more well-known and less common ingredients]. Well, we could do all obscure vegetables, but that’s too much on the obscure side,” said Richer

In June, recipes for asparagus, kale, peas and sunchokes usher in summer’s bounty. And in October, Richer highlights Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, parsley, pears and raspberries. She hopes that when readers use her book, they’ll be flexible in their cooking, trying new things but also adapting the recipes to fit their needs.

“I hope people won’t be afraid [to cook different foods],” Richer said.

Over the past few years, Richer said that the response to the cookbook has been positive.

“A lot of people tend to say thank you because I think the recipes cover some of those obscure vegetables that it’s hard to find a recipe for,” said Richer.

This article first appeared on Bangor Daily News, September 24, 2015.