Western Slope produce inspires food writer’s book
Eugenia Bone had never heard of Crawford before her husband announced in 1998 that he had just purchased a ranch out West.
She certainly didn’t know about the abundance of fruit, vegetables and wine available throughout the summer months. But as a food writer from New York City, Bone was pleasantly surprised at the high quality of fresh produce people in Western Colorado take for granted.
“At first I wondered ‘Do they even have pasta out there?’ ” Bone asked, laughing, during a recent phone interview from New York.
“I’m so surprised by what an inspiration Colorado has been for me,” she said.
Bone and her husband spend the winter months working in New York, and look forward to pulling on the cowboy boots and getting dirty on the ranch in Crawford in the summertime.
Bone also looks forward to growing her own food and making purchases at local farmers markets. She preserves that food through canning, salting or smoking, then ships much of it to her home in New York for use during the winter.
The food on the Western Slope inspired her new book, “Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods,” released May 12.
“Well-Preserved” demonstrates how to preserve fresh produce using small-batch canning recipes. Recipes include ideas for making delicious dishes straight from the jars.
“I was so surprised at how much canning goes on out there,” Bone said, noting that finding jars and lids at local hardware stores is common.
In her book, Bone takes the traditional lifestyle of preserving that many rural Coloradans grew up with, then demonstrates how to fit canning into more modern recipes and urban space.
“I’m not talking about stocking the pantry for nuclear winter here,” Bone said. “This book is intended for those who love to cook and overbuy at the farmers market.”
She explained that her book was marketed to people in urban areas who think they need to can to excess or that their kitchens are too small for such a big job.
“For typical urban people, canning in small batches is great because it becomes a kind of fast food for them,” Bone said.
Just open a jar, add a few fresh ingredients and a locally grown meal can be sitting on the table within minutes.
Canning food can give a person lots of peace-of-mind because they know exactly where the food came from and how it was processed, she said.
And, Bone added, canning during times of economic recession makes sense for the pocketbook as well.
“Well-Preserved” is more sophisticated than older or traditional canning books.
Strawberry balsamic jam or marinated baby artichokes probably weren’t stocked in your grandma’s pantry. Nor were they used to make a panna cotta or ricotta pie.
Each full-color page begins with a master recipe plus detailed instructions for preserving. It includes how to cut the produce, how much space should be left at the top of the jar, what the vinegar-to-water ratio should be, how to seal the jars in a hot bath and how to check the lids for a proper seal.
Five pounds of asparagus can easily become three pints of pickled asparagus. It then can be used to make pickled asparagus with eggs, skate wing with pickled asparagus or chicken piccata with pickled asparagus.
Or, can six pounds of golden delicious apples, yielding four pints of spiced apples.
Add the apples to pork tenderloin steaks or make strudel and apple pie.
The 224-page book includes 29 master preserving recipes and more than 200 cooking recipes.
Bone has written several books, including “At Mesa’s Edge,” a memoir about learning to live and ranch in Colorado. She co-authored a book with her father, food writer
Edward Giobbi, titled “Italian Family Dining.”
Bone has been published in Saveur, Food and Wine, Gourmet Magazine and The New York Times. She is also a food blogger for The Denver Post.
“Well-Preserved” is available online and at bookstores including Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Borders Books and Twice Upon a Time Bookshop in Grand Junction.