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The Heart of New England - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont
"New Hampshire: From Farm to Kitchen" Cookbook Review
By Jennifer Wojenski

I just finished reading a great new book, New Hampshire, From Farm to
Kitchen by Helen Brody. While it has 118 recipes I hesitate to call it just a
“cookbook” because the recipes are interspersed among wonderful stories
about 30 farms around New Hampshire. From the Wall Street investment
banker who left it all behind to become a cheese maker in Walpole to stories
of farmers who originally went into another field only to go back to the
family farm. It’s these stories that make this book a winner, and truly
different from other New England cookbooks.

I recently spoke with Helen Brody about her new cookbook. “New
Hampshire farmers are not hillbillies,” she said.  As marketing has become
such an important part of farm development advanced educational degrees
have helped bring farm products directly to consumers - in most cases
eliminating the middle man.

Take for example, Jesse Laflamme, son of Carol and Gerry Laflamme in
Monroe, who got his master’s degree from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of
Business. He came home for a weekend with some friends who had all
attended Ivy League schools. They convinced him that he would be crazy to
go off to a big city to work when it was obvious that he loved farm life. He
is now responsible for marketing organic eggs produced at his family’s
three-generational farm.

Then there’s stories about a bee keeper, an Elk farmer in Wilmot, a Buffalo
farmer in Warner, a deer farmer in Plymouth, soybean farmer in Enfield and
a farmer who specializes in green peppers!  I’ve lived in New Hampshire
for 20 years now and I have to admit I never would have known that we had
such diverse farms right here in our own little corner of the world!

Another common thread among farmers, Helen noticed, is that many don’t
have time for elaborate meals. Foods made are simple and nutritious: such
as soups, stir fry veggies, or whatever the catch of the day is on the table.
What this really means, says Helen, is that “…their ingredients are so
special there really is no need to add anything.”  

Which brings me to the point that underlies Helen’s book: Fresh food has a
way of tasting good no matter what! Which is why I have committed myself
to buying locally as often as possible. Not only does it support the local
economy but I feel it is very important to know where your food comes
from.  It is truly amazing how much one can really do this in NH!

Okay, I don’t want to get “sappy” (pardon the pun) but it makes me proud
to live in a state that uses its resources and makes them available for the
community. I made a quick list of the foods that I purchase from farms near
me: milk, eggs, cream, and syrup exclusively. I am able to occasionally
purchase chicken, turkey, beef, and honey from local farmers. Seasonally I
purchase vegetables and fruits locally. It also never hurts to have deer
hunters and fishermen for friends. My bet is that if I can purchase a good
amount of my food from local growers in the southwestern corner of New
Hampshire then most of you who live in northern New England can do this

Helen’s book not only includes the fascinating in-depth stories about the
farmers she interviewed, but little tidbits of information are interspersed
among the recipes that made me smile or brought back a fond memory:  
The Congregational Church Supper Apple Pie recipe reminded me of
holidays when apple pie was served with cheddar cheese as is mentioned
in the book.

Some recipes brought back some not-so-fond food memories of my Maine
upbringing: Take Lila’s Baked Beans and Brown Bread. I apologize in
advance to everyone out there who loves this “Saturday night New England
staple” but I have never liked it.  In fact there is a story in my family that
one of my sisters and I tell: My mother made Baked beans probably only a
handful of Saturday nights during my young childhood but because we did
not like them it seemed to us like it was EVERY Saturday night. So, as we
got older my mother would overhear us telling someone that she used to
make Baked Beans every Saturday night as we were growing up. We were
very surprised to hear that it really was only a few times!

Another recipe that brought back much fonder memories was the Chocolate
Bread Pudding. This I’m positive my mother did not make every Saturday
night but I sure wished she had. I was hoping there would be a recipe for
hard sauce to go along with the pudding. I’ll have to ask Mom for that one!

I asked Helen Brody what she would be serving up for the Memorial Day
weekend at her house. The menu would be straight from the book: BBQ
Pork, Our Favorite Apple Salad, Green Beans in Cheese Vinaigrette,
Tomato and Green Pepper Salad with Cumin and Spanish Onion, and
Raspberry Tart. All great recipes for when company is coming because they
can be prepared ahead of time.

I asked Helen if she thought she would write a similar book about Vermont.
She said she would be working hard promoting her New Hampshire book
for the rest of the year and then she would decide. So, keep a look out!

More New England Books

About the author Jenny Wojenski, a freelance  writer, is owner of Hors D’
Oeuvres Unlimited, a catering service based in Keene, New Hampshire.  To
contact her, drop her a line at
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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