Book report: Prairie Home Cooking.

Somehow, writes4food landed on the radar of a book publicist for the Harvard Common Press, who inquired if I’d be interested in receiving a review copy of Prairie Home Cooking. Indeed, I would.

Honestly, I need another cookbook like I need a hole in the head. But this one is a keeper. It celebrates heartland cooking: hearty, sustaining, nourishing foods that have sustained generations of Midwesterners. Many of the recipes have ethnic and cultural origins that correspond to the region’s heritage: kolache, schnitzel, pierogi, corncakes, Amish friendship bread.

And it includes a lot of recipes that are comfortingly familiar to me, recipes that hail from central Indiana, Cincinnati and St. Louis (where we’ve lived), recipes that are favorites in my family. Things like St. Louis Gooey Butter Coffeecake. Sauerkraut balls. Goetta. As you’d expect, the recipes in Prairie Home Cooking tend toward the hearty side, but the book isn’t strictly meat-and-potatoes. As a cook who favors lighter, seasonal dishes, I found plenty to tempt me here. And I love that author Judith Fertig includes sidebars highlighting regional ingredients (Midwestern apple varieties, wild rice from Minnesota and Michigan, Iowa pork chops), cooking techniques and celebrations and festivals—making Prairie Home Cooking an entertaining read as well as a great culinary resource.

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