By Tom Hudgens, Chronicle Books, $35.00, 608 pages

10“I am grateful to know the satisfaction of producing my own food, but it’s a lot of work. I am grateful to know, quite intimately, how much energy goes into producing just a little meat. I am also grateful for all those birds, raised from chicks, in all their incarnations: their youth, their life, their corporal selves. We took the lives of these animals and incorporated them into our own.”

This cookbook begins with a great little ditty about Deep Springs College, a working cattle ranch and the inspiration for this cookbook. Many of the recipes come straight from that boarding house kitchen, though many are from elsewhere in the author’s life experience. It is recognized that not everyone can eat as heartily as those living and working on the ranch, so there are variations available for some. There are two misses with this cookbook, apparently commonsense equates to no pictures, and the variations are not easy to read as the layout uses a light brown text on the white paper. Since the main font is brown, it looks like the printer started losing ink and it causes eye-strain. A nice add that is not common is that there is a section for potential menus. Many of the menu items are recipes in the book, though it would be better if there were actual page numbers indicated instead of just an asterisk. What this cookbook has going for it is the large number (500) of recipes and the simplicity of the steps and easy to find ingredients.

Reviewed by Janet Wright