The Farm Chicks are best friends Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson, who besides being busy stay-at-home moms also stage an annual antique show. Their self-described style is "farm girl meets Fifth Avenue," a blend of retro country-inspired chic and simple yet delicious cooking. Their story has been featured in Country Living, and the book's foreword is by Nancy Soriano, the editor-in-chief of Country Living (the cookbook also comes with a free year's subscription to Country Living). The book's introduction includes Teri and Serena's stories and their inspirations in the kitchen and beyond.
Beginning with breakfast, the Farm Chicks offer up simple yet tasty renditions of favorites such as cinnamon rolls, Nancy's nutmeg coffee cake (it's best served warm, as the bottom crust becomes very crunchy when cool), the delightfully exotic cardamom griddle cakes with maple cardamom cream, maple oat scones, and the guilty pleasure of a golden potato bake jazzed up with sharp cheddar. Craft ideas in this section include a scone cozy made out of terrycloth and a paint-by-numbers tray.
Appetizers include some upscale ideas such as parmesan rice-stuffed mushrooms, sweet onion tartlets, and grilled cumin chicken with apricot dipping sauce. For lunch, the girls serve up roasted chicken and pesto hoagies, tortellini and Italian sausage soup, and more exotic offerings such as Asian quinoa salad and spinach, feta, and beet salad.
Vegetarians like myself will also find many options, such as veggie pitas, pesto pasta salad, 'mater sandwiches, tangy cucumber cups, and sour cream and onion zucchini cakes. Other non-veg recipes can easily be tweaked to become vegetarian (replace chicken broth with veggie broth in the parmesan rice-stuffed mushrooms, cheesy potato soup, savory sweet potato soup, and Asian quinoa salad).
Desserts round out the savory offerings with a sweet finale, and this is where the cookbook shines. Such gems as dark chocolate butter cake, emboldened with cinnamon, espresso, and Dutch cocoa powder, and a large section on pies (including primers on baked pie shells, dough, and how to create a perfect piecrust) make piemaking approachable for new home cooks and old hands alike. Nutritional info (including protein, fat, carbs, fiber, sodium, cholesterol, and calorie info) is included for each recipe, and the Farm Chicks encourage you to write your own notes in the book regarding substitutions.
The included recipes and crafts are simple and straightforward, making them approachable for working and stay-at-home moms (or dads!) alike. The craft ideas are cute and affordable, many using items that you may already have around the house: making aprons out of old sheets, cookbook jackets out of unused shower curtains or vinyl tablecloths, and a countertop utensil holder using a vintage glass jar wrapped in colorful oilcloth. The book also includes a reusable stencil of the Farm Chicks' signature polka-dotted apron and a one-year subscription to Country Living, making this a great gift idea.
(Review copy courtesy of Sterling Publishing)