The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers
The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers Founding Farmers with Nevin Martell (Andrew McMeel 2013)
Three blocks from the White House in Washington, DC, Founding Farmers is a stylish high-tech restaurant that locals and visitors alike flock to for breakfast/brunch, lunch, and dinner. The crowd is hip, the décor is modern, the cocktails are crafty, and the food is delicious and prepared with a sassy flair.
The story behind the food, however, is significantly different from most trendy restaurants. It is all strictly “farm-to-table” (also called “farm-to-fork”), a movement to bring fresher, less processed, sustainable ingredients to restaurants across the United States.
In 2004, the North Dakota Farmers Union began to explore the idea of opening their own restaurants to increase profits and consumer awareness by bringing farmers to “the top of the food chain.” They chose the nation’s capital as their first location because the city represents the entire country, with residents from all fifty states as well as from around the world.
Founding Farmers is their flagship restaurant. Opened in 2008, it is a model success story in the farm-to-table, sustainable farming trend. The restaurant has won awards not only for its food, but also for its eco-friendly design and sustainable business practices. It is powered completely by wind energy.
In 2013, Founding Farmers published their first cookbook with one hundred recipes that enable you to bring the artistry of the restaurant’s food to your own kitchen.
The book includes classic recipes (Roasted Chestnut-Corn Bread Stuffing) and modern versions of the old standbys (Green Beans with Candied Lemon). Chapters include Pickles, Seasonings & Sauces; Sandwiches & Burgers; Breakfast & Brunch; as well as chapters on fish, vegetarian dishes, handmade pastas, desserts, salads, snacks, holiday meals, and beverages. There are also chapters devoted to Founding Farmers’ signature dishes (Southern Pan-fried Chicken and Waffles) and to their popular Crop List Sides, a separate menu that changes as different crops come into season (Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecan-Fig Butter).
While many of the recipes are simple and straightforward (Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Skillet Eggs), others require at least 24 hours of preparation to brine or marinate, then more time to prepare the accompanying glaze or sauce (Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce). However, the time spent preparing these more complex dishes is well worth it. I highly recommend the Oven-Roasted Cracked Pepper Wings, but if you make them I suggest doubling the recipe. They’re that good.
The cookbook is a fun one to look through. It’s well organized, has lovely photographs, and has great quotes about food from both foodies like Julia Child (“People who love to eat are always the best people.”) and from people who are famous for… other things (“Hunger is the best pickle.” Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father).
The book encourages its readers to “cook with the season,” to buy from local family farms and ranches, and to shop at farmers’ markets.
Also to remember, in my favorite quote from the book (a Native American proverb):
“Before eating, always take a little time to thank the food.”
First published August 2014