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Cookbook review: 'Organic Marin'

An enticing visit to America's heart of organic farming.

By / September 24, 2008

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor

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Think of quaint communities around San Francisco and the tourist mecca of Sausalito may come to mind. But a foodie's thoughts will immediately turn to another area across the Golden Gate BridgeMarin County, the Bay Area's organic farming capital.

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Today, "organic" is a buzzword, but it wasn't more than 30 years ago when the pioneers of the movement began farming in Marin. They were passionate about their commitment to environmental values, but discovered that working with nature instead of against it has a wonderful side benefit – it builds a sense of community.

In Organic Marin: Recipes From Land to Table, by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley ($29.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing), readers meet many of Marin's best growers: Jesse Kuhn of Marin Roots Farm, whose soil is good enough that he can grow and harvest year-round; and Sandy and Dennis Dierks of Paradise Valley Produce, who raise 14 different types of lettuce.

Three-fourths of the book, though, is devoted to recipes illustrated by gorgeous color photographs.

The recipes – which are provided by San Francisco-area restaurants that buy the county's organic produce, poultry, and meat – are grouped by season. Like many chefs' recipes, they are very appealing in appearance as well as taste. But unlike many professional recipes, these aren't complicated.

Some of fall's choices include Roasted Red Pepper Bisque, Butternut Squash Gratin, and Gingersnaps.

A bonus, especially in such a beautiful book, is the detailed how-to tips sprinkled throughout, such as how to roast peppers, choose plantains, peel fava beans, and grill fish.

This appealing cookbook is the next best thing to a visit to America's heart of organic farming.

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