A Brief Review of
COOKING GREEN by Kate Heyhoe.
Paperback: DeCapo/Lifelong Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.
From Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, the last decade has been chock full of books challenging us to more eco-friendly eating. However, relatively little has been written on how to improve our processes of HOW we cook the food we eat. Kate Heyhoe’s recent book Cooking Green aims to address this oft-ignored question. Heyhoe offers us a here a unique book that is half ideas for greening your kitchen and half “green basics recipes.” Heyhoe begins the book by crafting the term “cookprint” in reference to “the impact you make on the planet when you cook” (1). The cookprint of a meal, although not given a rigorous scientific definition, is useful for getting us to think about all of the ecological choices that go into its preparation from the selection of food to its transportation and storage to the ways in which it is prepared. Heyhoe spans the breadth of her definition of cookprint, as she offers suggestions for improving how we cook. She begins by looking at the appliances that we use in the kitchen, and focuses especially on ovens and cooktops (a.k.a., ranges), devoting a chapter to each, and summarizing in this basic rule: “The simplest way to shrink a cookprint is to reach for cooktop recipes first rather than oven ones” (67). The chapter “What to Buy” is an excellent guide to sorting through the many ecological dilemmas to sort through at the grocery store or farmers’ market. The latter half of the book packs many tasty recipes into relatively few pages; Heyboe’s focus here is the everyday, basic foods that when prepared properly help to lower a meal’s cookprint. These recipes represent a broad array of cuisines from Mexican (“Frijole Fundido, Rapido”) to Oriental (“Stir-fried Vietnamese Chicken with Passively Blanched Snow Peas”) to Italian (“Short-cut, Passive Lasagna”), and many more. Heyboe also includes a fine section of meat-free main dishes. Cooking Green is an essential book, one that you will want to read, re-read and use frequently as a resource guide in the kitchen. Here’s to lowering our cookprints!
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com