My husband Ted and I came to Rhode Island as part-timers thirteen years ago. We bought a log house on a small bit of land, with woods and grass and so-many-critters. The list of things we didn't know stretched most of the way back to Boston: how to keep chipmunks out of the vegetable garden; how to get rid of stink bugs without crushing the vile odor out of them; how to pronounce town names like Coventry (it's car-ven-try, for some reason we still haven't figured out).
Our food vocabulary expanded, too, as we were introduced to stuffies, cabinets, johnnycakes and doughboys, some of the most well-known Rhode Island specialties.
And then, lucky me, I was hired to write about food for Rhode Island Monthly magazine. I traveled from one corner of the state to another, meeting with farmers, food activists, and restaurant folks, telling their stories and tasting their food. I discovered a whole world beyond the traditional sweet dishes Little Rhody seems to love so much.
Since those days, I've added many Rhode Island-made products to The Perfect Pantry. I'd never be without Cowboy Ketchup, Dave's All Natural Coffee Syrup, Wicked Natural Caramel Mustard, or Chepachet Farms maple syrup, made at a farm up the road from my house. Whenever I see something new in the grocery store or at the farmer's market, or in the gift shop at the airport, I give it a try.
It turns out that another Rhode Island food blogger, Jennifer Leal of Savor the Thyme, does the same thing. When I suggested to her that we put together a cookbook celebrating these culinary souvenirs in healthy, family-friendly, and sometimes unexpected recipes, she instantly agreed.
And that's how Rhode Island Recipes: Creative, healthy cooking with iconic local foods was born.
We made lists of our favorite iconic local products, chose the ones we wanted to include in the book (and there are many more, so we're already thinking of a second volume), pooled some of our published recipes, and created new dishes specifically for the cookbook. The companies represented did not know about the project until the book was published a couple of weeks ago.
The thirty recipes span the menu from appetizer to dessert (yes, of course there's dessert), and though they call for some of our local foods, each recipe includes suggested substitutions so you can use your favorite ingredients. We hope you'll buy the authentic Rhode Island foods, either online or while you're visiting, but you can make these recipes at home, even if your home isn't here in the Ocean State.
We're proud of our local foods, and we're particularly proud of Rhode Island Recipes.
Please visit www.rhodeislandrecipes.com to learn more about the book, get the backstory, meet the farmers and food producers, and order the softcover print or e-book version (for Kindle, iPad, Sony and more).
As we say around here, the book would make a "wicked good" gift, or a fun addition to your own cookbook library.
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