Book Review: Heartland by Judith Fertig

“The horizon was like a perfect circle, a great embrace, and within it lay the cornfields, still green, and the yellow wheat stubble, miles and miles of it, and the pasture lands where the white-faced cattle led lives of utter content,” wrote Willa Cather in The Best Years.

Among those fortunate enough to have been born and raised in the Midwest, this is how we think of it. The Heartland holds us, comforts us, makes us stand up straight. Even if we leave, it still claims a place in our hearts.

Thus begins a new book just out this month that completely spoke my name. Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig is, yes a cookbook, but it’s a lot more. This book celebrates everything that is so wonderful about the very center, the heart of the United States. That would be it’s soil, all it’s vegetation. it’s rivers and lakes, it’s weather, it’s animals, and all the people who live and have lived there.

The first sections of the book makes for very good reading. The Introduction is everything a person wants to know about the Midwest. It’s very interesting, even for those of us who have lived there. The Pantry section sets out some key techniques and recipes that are basic for many of the other recipes in the book. The remaining chapters are about breads, breakfast, appetizers and drinks, salads and soups, main dishes and desserts. Finishing the book was a good listing of resources and an index.

There are so many dishes I want to try but let me just show you my top ten. My plan is to share them with you as I make them.

  1. Sweet Potato Waffles With Whipped Orange Butter
  2. No-Knead Clover Honey Dough for various rolls and breads
  3. Grilled Pear Salad with Bleu Cheese and Honey
  4. Beet Queen Salad with Smoked Goat Cheese (including how to smoke the cheese)
  5. Two Drinks: Farm Girl Cosmo and Garden Gimlet
  6. Crisp Refrigerator Dill Pickles
  7. Blackberry-Lavender Syrup
  8. Apple-Smoked Trout with Horseradish Creme Fraiche
  9. Carmalized Cabbage Rolls
  10. Honeycrisp Apple Upside-Down Pie

I received this book from the publisher, Andrews McMeel, via NetGalley. That means I have the digital book for only 60 days. But, I loved this book enough that I am going to buy my own copy. It’s one I know I’ll read, use, and treasure for a long time. It’s perfect for people like me with a Heartland heart.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.


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18 Responses to Book Review: Heartland by Judith Fertig

  1. I love reading cookbooks and nice to know it has some wonderful reading in addition to some lovely looking recipes! I’ll have to check this out, thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds like some delicious recipes! I’ve never been to the center of the US, but your picture makes it look beautiful!

  3. TheBookGirl says:

    This sounds like a great book; I like cookbooks with alot of text as well as recipes.
    Net galley sounds like a great way to preview cookbooks; the fact that you want your own copy is a great endorsement ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kay says:

    Margot, this cookbooks sounds very interesting. I look forward to reading about your experiences with the recipes. The grilled pear salad – wow, that sounds yummy!

  5. Uniflame says:

    I saw this book at NetGalley. How does it translate for non Americans? Any idea? ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Leslie says:

    I felt like I was reading a menu. Those sound so delicious. Never had sweet potato waffles but I’d like to try them. I’ll be watching for the results from your test kitchen!

  7. Margot says:

    Unuflame: The recipes are written in cups and teaspoons, but there is a nice measurement conversion chart in the back of the book. As I was reading I thought it would make a nice tourist’s guide as the author suggests specific food places and festivals. The recipes are for products like cheese, vegetables, fruits, flours, and a wide variety of meats and poultry which are available in most places in the world. I think it would translate quite well to other agricultural areas.

  8. Pingback: Joyfully Retired ยป Book Review: Heartland by Judith Vertig Books Empire | Books Empire

  9. Faith says:

    Never heard of this before. It sounds like a great cookbook!

  10. I love the idea of sweet potato waffles! I’m going to look for this book — sounds like the perfect gift for my mom-in-law!

  11. Oh my gosh! I’m not surprised you want a hard copy of this one! I was surprised to see it was a cookbook after that lyrical introduction — was expecting a novel. (I forgot it was ‘make-me-hungry Saturday ;>)’….

    I can’t wait to read your posts when you try these — especially the smoked cheese one and the grilled pear salad. Every one sounds good.

  12. Beth F says:

    Oh man — I must have this one! I’m Midwest born and bred and I love the Willa Cather quotes and the sound of all the recipes in your list.

  13. Annie says:

    I like, your post, Margot. I like too when cooking is linked with something eslse : History, somebody’s biography or, as here, a country ! Thank you to share it with those, like me, who never see midwest.

  14. Staci says:

    You can’t see me but I’m clapping in happiness over you testing out the recipes!!!! I can’t wait..make sure you take pictures! This sounds like a great cookbook to read too!!!

  15. I’m joining Staci with the enthusiasm. This sounds like a wonderful celebration of where I live — smack dab in the middle!

    I can’t wait for the Garden Gimlet. For some reason, I take special pride in cocktails that I make with garden ingredients.

  16. The list of recipes you want to try has my mouth watering ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t it nice when a cookbook is MORE than “just” a cookbook … Heartland seems to be have historical and cultural interest as well.

  17. Chinoiseries says:

    Oh wow, this looks like a keeper! I’ll be eagerly awaiting your goat cheese smoking post ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Uniflame says:

    Thank you for your answer. I will look into the book since it sounds like a good one ๐Ÿ™‚

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