Morning Glory Farm Book Review

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Disclaimer:  Vinyard Stories publishers sent me a review copy of this book (although I had to spend $20 at the farmer’s market to make the recipes, so I think we’re even.  : ) )

Morning Glory Farm and the Family that Feeds an Island is the story in pictures, words and recipes of James and Deborah Athearn’s farm on Martha’s Vineyard.  The author is Tom Dunlop, local Martha’s Vineyard writer.  Alison Shaw is the photographer and the recipes are a collaboration of local island chefs and the Morning Glory Farm Stand.

mgbook

The Pictures

By far my favorite part of this book is the vibrant pictures.  Shaw’s photography shines from shots of the farm and family to the mouth-watering depictions of the recipes.  The colors are so clear that you feel you can jump right into the fields and pick a head of lettuce for dinner.  The pictures for the recipes made me want to cook each one just so I could taste it.  I don’t find photographers often where I am impressed by their landscape, people and food shots.  I’ll definitely be keeping this book on my kitchen counter for when I’m practicing my food photography.

The Recipes

I love how the recipes in this book are organized by season.  It made it easy to choose a recipe with ingredients available at my local farmer’s market.  I just opened up the summer section and knew most everything would be in season.  Malissa and I each made a Morning Glory Farm recipe.  Mostly this is because I really really wanted to make the Baked Stuffed Poblano Peppers but couldn’t because of the cheese, so I asked if I could live vicariously through her.

Malissa said the stuffed poblano peppers were absolutely wonderful.  “The combination of the cinnamon and the mildly spicy flavor of the poblano was really unique and delicious.”  She also noted that it reheated beautifully.

Unfortunately, while it turned out okay in the end, the recipe wasn’t written that well and I’m curious if they tested it (you’d be surprised how often cookbook authors don’t!)  It says to roast the peppers in a 375 degree oven, which is really low for blistering peppers and the skins weren’t easy to remove since it would have taken all day at this temp.  Malissa also said the recipe in general didn’t flow well.  That’s too bad, but she did say “overall, I think if you were making stuffed peppers for the first time, it wasn’t the best recipe for learning how to do it.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a stuffed pepper recipe with a different twist, then this recipe would be great inspiration.”

pablano

I found very similar results with the Morning Glory Zucchini Bread.  I was very impressed with how moist the bread was even a couple of days after baking and slicing.  It also kept its rise and had a beautiful crumb and fresh taste.  It’s not as much of a spice cake as some zucc. breads, but does have a hint of cinnamon. It was by far the most beautiful-looking sweet bread I’ve made.

Unfortunately… the recipe didn’t say to mix the dry ingredients separately before combining with the wet.  I knew to do this, but I used to work in a bakery.  Not everyone knows the rules and you have to account for this when writing a cookbook.  Another thing I would do differently is to put the approximate weight of the zucchini, so you know how much to buy at the market.  “2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini” doesn’t cut it.  Next time I’ll use whole wheat pastry flour too.  I always think something’s missing in refined flour dishes.  I suspect this recipe will do fine with the switch.

All’s well that end’s well though, because Malissa and I both enjoyed our Morning Glory meals and we’ll definitely be making these recipes again.

The Writing

I think people who live on Martha’s Vineyard would find the story in this book quite interesting.  The Capulet and Montague style drama came off a bit provincial and contrived to me, but I was warned before the book was sent that it was very local writing.  I would have loved to hear more about the techniques they use to make the farm sustainable.  But then, I’m a food geek.

I’d highly recommend this book for local residents of the Vineyard and for any foodie wanting a beautiful coffee table book.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend the recipes!  They were delicious; I’d just say you should be comfortable in the kitchen before picking it up.

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