A Gift to be Simple
The Dairy Good Cookbook offers comfort food and is comfortable with what it is
By Adrienne Martini
I’ve developed a ritual when it comes to cookbooks. I read the table of contents just to get a sense of how the book is organized. Then I read the introductory material, like, in the case of the The Dairy Good Cookbook: Everyday Comfort Food from America’s Dairy Farm Families, essays from GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick, celebrity chef Carla Hall, and the book’s editor Lisa Kingsley. Each piece sets the mood for what’s to come. These recipes grew out of humble achievements and have been passed down through generations of farmers.
Only then do I read through the recipes and slap a sticky note on the ones that sound good. If a cookbook’s pages look like Mardi Gras once I’ve made my first pass, that book gets to stay on my stuffed shelves. My copy of The Dairy Good Cookbook might singlehandedly keep the post-it industry afloat.
The subtitle tells you all that you need to know; these eats are about home and comfort. Given that these dishes are shared by folks who spend most of their time in a barn rather than in a professional kitchen, these meals are straightforward and hearty, rather than fussy and delicate.
Like Granny’s Chicken Pie, which features diced chicken, hard-cooked eggs, a small handful of celery and onion, and refrigerated pie crusts—and is making me drool just to think about. Or the Waffle Panini with Maple Butter, Bacon, and Cheddar that calls for frozen waffles but would be perfect for a crisp weekday morning when you need a warm nosh on the way to school.
Sure, you could use all of the book’s recipes as starting points, swapping out scratch-made crust for the industrial sort and adding more veggies. You could add another step and make your own waffles. Those changes would be swell. But, sometimes, isn’t it also satisfying to tuck into something easily made?
Take the Pink Arctic Freeze, which is a side dish contributed by Sarah VanOrden from Ovid’s Crosswinds Farm and Creamery. The Freeze features cream cheese, mayo, heavy cream, and cans of cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple. While VanOrden uses her own dairy products, that’s not an option open to all of us. Is something made with a block ‘o Philly and a squeeze of Hellmann’s haute cuisine? Nope. Can it still be tasty and satisfying? Yup.
The Dairy Good Cookbook feels like a less intensely focus-grouped and hyper-branded Pioneer Woman. That ethos of cutting some corners in order to just get mostly home-cooked meals on the table informs these pages. Plus, folks who like to learn about the strengths of different dairy cow breeds or the variety of business models of dairy farms will find plenty to please them, too.
Adrienne Martini writes about running, eating, knitting and parenting at martinimade.com.
This piece is from our dairy-focused Fall 2015 Issue.