What began as a joke between Bemis and her then boyfriend (now husband) over a bag of organic blueberries led to a massive life change for the couple: the decision to run a farm of their own and become self-sufficient.
For most this would be an even more difficult decision than it was for these two, Taylor grew up on a 60-acre farm in Massachusetts (the origin of the life changing blueberries). So the two packed up and returned to the Bay State to learn the ropes. Four years later, the couple returned to Oregon where they purchased the land that would become Tumbleweed Farm. And Bemis chronicled every step on her blog, Dishing Up the Dirt!
Which is how the cookbook, Dishing Up the Dirt, was born.
Bemis recaps much of the early years in the intro to the book, recounting the good and the not so good. Bemis herself had no experience farming or really cooking and says it was "Baptism by fire..." But throughout it all, even the difficulties of starting their own farm, they were successful. The goal of the blog (and now book) is to
...offer an honest glimpse into life on our six-acre farm in rural Oregon. It's a story about love, community, farming, and, most important, the food that we grow, eat, and share around the table with family and friends.
And, oh the food!
The book is divided by season, offering up recipes featuring produce at their peak. Because as we've all learned, fruits and vegetables do taste better when they're in season! And while the calendar hasn't technically reached spring, here in Colorado the weather certainly has. With that in mind, and with a fridge already stocked with strawberries, cauliflower, beets, and herbs, I went to town bookmarking recipes to try.
It was a dreary Saturday, our coldest of late considering we've seen abnormally warm weather these past few weeks, so I kicked off the morning with Bemis's Honey Cardamom Latte. Our local Colorado honey blended quite nicely with some (also local) almond butter and the rest of the ingredients to make a cozy and warming start to the morning as I planned the rest of the weekend's meals.
Next up: Strawberry Salsa (remember those strawberries in the fridge, 'cause there were w lot of them), which we ate as a snack while I made lunch on that icky Saturday. The salsa was easy and offered up familiar flavors of cilantro, jalapeño, and red onion, with just a pinch of salt and lime juice. The addition of a bit of honey and the bright sweetness of the strawberries was wonderful. Even my husband, who'd admitted to being leery of strawberries in salsa, enjoyed it so much he complained I was eating more than my fair share without saving some for him!
I did skip ahead to Summer to make Bemis's Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Herbed Butter. They paired nicely with another recipe I'd had planned, making a fairly healthy dinner that still incorporated my favorite carb (potatoes, yum!) for meatless Monday.
Baking is a bit of an issue at high altitude, so I've held off so far on the Honey-Roasted Strawberry Muffins (which sound DIVINE), but the Chocolate Chip & Real Mint Cookies are just too tempting to pass up. These are next in my roster considering I beelined to the store to grab a new bag of flour, semi-sweet chips, and the mint in question! (Which means I also have all the ingredients on hand to make the Strawberry Mint Smoothie that'll be today's breakfast.) And dinner tonight? Penne with Parsley Pesto, White Beans & Parmesan. And I may just have to get over my tahini issues in order to try the Cauliflower Tahini Dip. (I'll admit it, while I love hummus, I hate tahini!) But I've been eyeballing the Simple Cauliflower Soup as an alternative too :)
The best thing about the book so far: I had literally 90% of the ingredients on hand already to try the dishes I've already tried and the ones I still have planned for the next few days. The only thing I had to buy: the mint, the parsley (because the parsley I thought I had turned out to be a third bunch of cilantro!), and the baking stuff for the cookies.
I should note that while Dishing Up the Dirt is not a vegetarian cookbook, the vast majority of the book is veggie forward. In fact, there are just a few meat focused meals in the whole book: Lamb Lettuce Wraps with Mint Yogurt Sauce, Venison Stew, Farmers' Market Burgers with Mustard Green Pesto, Tumbleweed Farm Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Chicken and Chickpea Pesto Summer Salad, just to name a few (actually there are only 2-3 others I didn't mention). And honestly, even though I'm not vegetarian, I'd never turn my nose up at a tasty veggie-focused dish. Considering there are enough of those throughout the book, I wouldn't have complained if this were a 100% vegetarian cookbook.
(There are a fair amount of vegan friendly recipes throughout the book as well.)
Considering the book arrived just Friday evening, I think I've tested enough recipes thus far to put my hearty stamp of approval on this one! The recipes are easy, there are no odd or hard to find ingredients, and the dishes taste fantastic.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Andrea Bemis and Tumblweed Farm you can visit her blog here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble