When I think of "traditional foods," the first thing that comes to mind is real, fermented pickles. That and dense, seedy sourdough bread. But as I've learned from reading blogger and food educator Jennifer McGruther's informative new cookbook, The Nourished Kitchen, eating a traditional foods diet is about so much more than wild fermentation. In fact, I often eat this way without even trying—fruits, vegetables, high-quality dairy, and whole grains all play a big part. There's plenty of meat (head to tail) and animal fat as well; in other words, traditional foods include just about everything good.
McGruther's blog, also titled The Nourished Kitchen, has been around since 2007, and it's as much a community gathering place as it is a chronicle of her recipes and homesteading adventures. Her food is often very simple, relying on fresh ingredients that are inherently flavorful. Think carrots cooked in cream and spinach tossed in melted butter. Everything—from butter to broth—is made from scratch. As I had guessed before reading her book, McGruther does share several recipes for fermented fruits and vegetables, as well as a detailed look at sourdough baking. Grains that aren't soured are soaked to make them easier to digest.
While the book likely won't offer much of a challenge to anyone familiar with local scratch cooking, it would be a great title to gift anyone who's just starting out. The recipes are solid and accessible, and McGruther goes into welcome detail about more less-familiar (for many Americans) ingredients like lard and bone marrow.
This week, we'll sample a range of McGruther's traditional fare. We'll first churn our own cultured butter, saving the deliciously tangy buttermilk. We'll use that butter in a simple spinach and egg dish and the buttermilk in a tangy, herbaceous salad dressing. Later in the week, we'll bake salmon in cream and roll out a few trays of homemade dill-filled crackers.