by Nadia Natali
Illustrated by Marica Natali Thompson
North Atlantic Books, 2009
My Rating: B
In addition to recipes, The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook is a story about the creation of the Blue Heron Ranch and Zen Retreat Center. It’s the story of how the Natali family bought forty acres near Ojai, California and built it into a meditation retreat center.
For three years they lived in their fold-out tent-camper and a tepee with no electricity or phone services. Their water came from the river. They still live off the grid but now have solar panels and a back-up generator. The land was dusty chaparral when they first moved there in 1980 but they’ve transformed it into a desert oasis with a large variety of trees and other plants.
Nadia has always been in charge of food preparation. First it was for her family of five and later for large groups of retreat guests. Her book contains menus and tips for handling large numbers of guests. In fact there is a food and supply list.
The book contains a large number of vegetarian recipes and is heavy on healthy eating. Among the recipes, here are some of my favorites:
- A large number of soups, both hot and cold. I want the Potato Leek Soup.
- I bought some dried cranberries so I can try her Pineapple Chicken recipe. It calls for chicken legs, undiluted orange juice, curry powder, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cracked almonds and the cranberries. Doesn’t that mix sound good? Can’t you just imagine how those flavors will all meld together? Mmmmm good.
- The author has included a nice little section on breakfasts which I find is often overlooked in most cookbooks. My favorites includes a recipe for Sunday Pancakes, which has been a tradition at our house, and the author’s own granola.
- There are eight pie recipes including a blueberry peach that looks wonderful.
- A very nice section on sauces with everything from Ginger Honey Sauce to Green Enchilada Sauce to Hot Fudge Sauce.
The stories of the Natali’s life are interspersed throughout the book, usually at the beginnings of each food chapter. The other thing that makes the book a treat are the colorful drawings by the author’s daughter, Marica. The front cover above is a good example of her work.
I recommend this book for anyone who entertains house guests for long weekends. I’m also passing this one on to my son and d-i-l who participate in weekend and sometimes week-long meditation retreats. This is a great resource for those events.
This book was a gift from the author. I read this book as a requirement for the Spice of Life Challenge.
You can purchase The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook from Amazon.