The 100% Natural Foods Cookbook by Caleb Warnock contains a compilation of recipes he enjoys creating for his family from the produce of his gardens. Warnock, an enthusiastic gardener, prides himself on being self-sufficient with just a few acres to supply his needs. Evidence of pride in his bountiful harvest is seen by counting photos in the cookbook: 20 photos of recipe dishes and 57 photos of vegetables from his garden.
Warnock writes, “I eat out of the garden because I love it. There is nothing like the flavor, the sense of accomplishment, the joy that comes of growing a garden and then actually eating what you grow.”
The book’s 118 pages are not organized into categories. Nor is there an index of ingredients found in the recipes. This means a reader needs to scan each recipe to figure out what to make with a surplus of carrots. The titles of the recipes might give an indication of their contents like “Slow Cooker Carrot Zucchini Lasagna”, but some are generic enough like “Winter Stew” not to be helpful.
One of the techniques he uses to impart a number of ideas in just a few pages is to create mini ‘chapters’ like:
Beyond Lettuce: 40 Backyard Salad Ingredients
“The leaves of beets are great in salads. When mature beets are boxed for winter storage, they will slowly begin to grow leaves in the dark. These leaves are tender and beautiful and are fantastic in salad.”
Crudites and Legumes Vapeur
“Right at this moment, some of you dear readers are thinking, “What a pretentious writer!” It’s a fair accusation. Crudites is the fancy French way of saying fresh raw vegetables eaten as an appetizer, and Legumes Vapeur is the pinky-pointed-out way of saying steamed vegetables…If I had called the chapter “Steamed Vegetables” you would have skipped right past it…Steamed vegetables are booorrring, and your family is not likely to get too excited if you announce that supper this evening will be steamed roots. But as you will see below, there are ways to prepare both raw and steamed vegetables that are delicious and refreshingly different.” An example of dressing up vegetables from page 8: “Sesame oil, Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar: I lived in Japan for two years, and this tasty concoction is perhaps Japan’s most popular sauce. The key is to get the ratio correct. Use one part sesame oil to two parts soy and two parts rice vinegar. At our house this is most often served in little individual Japanese sauce dishes.”
Validity of the book’s title
It didn’t occur to me to challenge the book’s title, 100% Natural Foods Cookbook, until I read the following on page 104: “I try to make my own pie crusts, but if life is out of control, I buy them pre-made”. My mind immediately said, “Hang on here. Store bought pie crusts are NOT natural.”
I did a quick ingredient scan of the book’s 44 recipes and jotted down items that I would not consider one hundred percent natural.
- sweet Italian sausage
- bouillon powder
- puff pastry
- filo dough
- wonton wraps
- yakisoba noodles
- soy sauce
- deli sliced ham
- packaged panko breadcrumbs
For the most part, the recipes included are healthy and easy to prepare, but to create an honest rapport with his readers, the author should have thought up a different title.
Many times throughout The 100% Natural Foods Cookbook, Caleb Warnock refers to other books he has written and cites recipes in them as a teaser. However, you’d have to buy the other books to get the recipe,. There are five pages at the end of the book advertising his other books, and also two pages of cooking measurement equivalents and metric equivalents. I would much rather have those pages devoted to being a helpful index of ingredients.
Who needs this book
This book might appeal to folks who are fans of Caleb Warnock. He has a blog site and many previously published books. He also sells non-GMO seeds and speaks to folks interested in healthy lifestyles. His audiences are probably grateful to have the opportunity to buy his books.
The 100% Natural Foods Cookbook might appeal to someone recently convinced that he/she ought to start ‘living off the land’ and eating more healthy meals. It’s not for vegetarians, people avoiding grains, dairy, gluten, or people who don’t garden or frequent farmers’ markets. But, if you’re someone interested in growing and eating healthy foods, this book would be a great way to begin. — by Lisa George, RFT Cookbook Editor, Latigo Ranch, Kremmling Colorado