In the Green Kitchen

Alice Waters

In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart
Clarkson Potter/Publisher, New York, 2010

Alice Waters is credited as the Mother of the Slow Food movement. Founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, Waters was one of the first chefs to insist that only organic, locally grown fruit and vegetables and antibiotic-free meats be served at her restaurant. Back then, in the 1970's, her quest for fresh local produce wasn't simply philosophically based, she was looking for the best tasting ingredients. Just harvested food not only looks wonderful, it has a vitality you can taste and smell. In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart is a compilation of simple recipes and basic techniques presented by Waters and a diverse groups of cooks, well-known and not so well-known, all based on Waters' mantra: organic, local and seasonal.

In the Green Kitchen begins with a plan for stocking an organic pantry, followed by a two-page discussion of oils and vinegars. Waters and others then share details for techniques such as washing lettuce, dressing a salad, poaching an egg, blanching greens and steaming vegetables. A set of basic techniques learned by heart allows cooks to improvise and not be over dependent on recipes. Fresh ingredients don't need to be fussed with to taste delicious, and the recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated. Roasted tomato salsa, salt and sugar pickles, and polenta with fresh corn can all be made with a few pantry staples and a quick trip to the closest farm stand.

Waters wants everyone to experience the joy of shopping for, cooking, and eating delicious food. She says common sense is the only thing required, "the common sense to eat seasonally, to know where your food comes from, to support and buy from local farmers and producers who are good stewards of our natural resources, and to apply the same principles of conservation to your own home kitchen." Preview the book here