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Fresh: Seasonal Recipes Made with Local Ingredients

by John Bishop, Dennis Green

One of life’s little disappointments is seeing the words “seasonal recipes” on the cover of a new cookbook. The four-section, four-season cookbook, with recipes representing the bounties of spring, summer, fall, and winter, has been so overdone it’s as boring as toast. Thankfully, restaurateur John Bishop, along with Dennis Green, chef at Bishop’s self-named Vancouver restaurant, have put a refreshing twist on that old formula with their newest book.

Bishop’s fourth cookbook, and the second co-authored with Green, delivers 94 recipes that use only ingredients from organic farms in the Pacific Northwest, or that grow wild in the region. The twist is that Bishop and Green have divided their culinary year into three broad “seasons,” rather than four, categorizing them under the following chapters: “Fresh and Light – Spring and Early Summer­,” “Abundant and Satisfying – Late Summer and Early Fall,” and “Hearty and Comforting – Late Fall and Winter.”

This structure is designed to reflect the patterns of farm harvests and natural growth cycles. The centrepiece of the book is Hazelmore Organic Farm, where Bishop and Green buy most of their produce. Farmer Gary King, Hazelmore’s owner, provides short essays describing the produce available during each of the book’s three “seasons.” John Sherlock’s gorgeous location photography showcases the farm, while his competent studio shots intermingle with such recipes as Chanterelle and Pear Pot Pies, Pan-roasted Sablefish with Mussel Chowder, Braised Rabbit with Red Wine and Bay Leaves, Barbecued Porterhouse Steak with Braised Cippolini Onions, and Apple Cinnamon Cake.

While it’s obvious Bishop and Green passionately subscribe to the tenets of sustainable agriculture, there are about 30 meat and seafood recipes here, so one wishes they’d engaged in some discussion of organic livestock and sustainable fishing methods. And there is a complete avoidance of the fact that buying Pacific seafood locally can never be an option for most North Americans.

Still, though not quite a primer on the new ecology, Fresh is still a welcome move away from the predictable and boring.