Let me begin by saying that I love the concept of The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals. I love the idea of using every bit of what you have, a sort of nose to tail idea that also includes fruits and vegetables. Just the other day, I was chopping off some broccoli florets to roast and I was chucking the big stalks into the compost bucket. I thought to myself, “this could be diced in a stir fry or pulsed into a pesto or used in a soup.” I didn’t do any of those, but at least I composted it.
This book begins with an introduction the concept of using everything, using the leftovers, by-products, and scraps. One concept that I took away from this is the idea of canning one or two jars of something. Frequently the author will can something at the same time is using another part of the ingredient in a recipe. This is a great idea and I think once you got in the habit of doing it, it would be easily doable.
After the introduction, the book is divided alphabetically, mixing fruits, vegetables, and proteins. So that beef is between asparagus and beets, and chicken is between cherries and corn. Each recipe section is divided into four sections: Eat Some Fresh, Preserve Some, Use the Preserves, and Use the Scraps. For example: Apples has Apples, Smoked Pork Butt, and Onion Saute; Stewed Apples with Red Cabbage; and Baked Apples with Bread Pudding under Eat Some Fresh. Under Preserve Some are Applesauce and Lady Apple Basil Jelly. Under Use the Preserves are Potato Pancakes with Applesauce and Applesauce Cake with Raisins and Walnuts. Under Use The Scraps are Apple Peel Jelly Stock and Apple Juice Granita. The recipes are listed in a flow chart fashion – the Apple Juice Granita comes off of the Applesauce box because you use the juice left over from making applesauce to make the granita.
After the list of recipes there is a final section called Preserving and Recipe Techniques. This is where the author covers everything from canning, to smoking, to preparing pasta and crepes. This section is around twenty pages and contains a wealth of valuable information.
There are so many recipes that I marked to try, here are just a few: Braised Chicken with Apricots and Tarragon, Asparagus Pesto, Beet Jam, Shrimp and Corn Casserole, Pickled Fennel, and Ginger Syrup.
I love this book. I realize the concept might not be for everything, but I have always felt like there was more that I could do with our food. Even if I am making a recipe from another cookbook, I will check this book to see if there is anything extra that I can do with the ingredients.
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