News & Awards

COOKBOOK CORNER: This farmgirl thinks recipes stand out in Butters' book

Moscow-Pullman Daily News
July, 2005

by Vera White

MaryJane Butters has been compared to Martha Stewart, the homemaking icon who for decades has presented herself as the woman who can do it all and America's "most trusted guide to stylish living." But there are differences. For starters, Butters hasn't spent jail time. She alsi is younger and prettier. The photo that graces the cover of her new book, "MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook: For the Farmgirl in All of Us," could have been from Vogue, if the magazine ever opted to do a rural edition.

With the release of her new book in May, Butters appears to be nipping at Stewart's heels. To say the 416-page hardback book has something for everybody is an understatement. In addition to sharing a variety of her "hearty but simple farm recipes," the Latah County "organic lifestyle maven" gives guidance on everything from building a greenhouse to caring for a flock of chickens. There are also tips for choosing the proper water filter, patterns for making your own aprons, and much more.

Plus the 600 color photographs and illustrations in the book qualify the publication as a great addition to your coffee table or cookbook shelf.

When the book hit the stands this spring, Butters did a series of book signings on the Palouse before heading out for her national tour which included stops in New York City, Chicago, and Cincinnati, Ohio. From all reports, book sales are brisk.

After reading "About the Author" in a press release from Clarkson Potter/Publishers, it's easy to understand why the author has much to write about in her first book. In addition to founding the popular MaryJanesFarm magazine, Butters has worn many hats during her lifetime: Carpenter, waitress, janitor, upholsterer, secretary, milkmaid, wilderness ranger, environmental activist and entrepreneur.

"Her (Butters) philosophy is simple: Women crave no-nonsense advice," wrote publicist Tammy Blake.

It was, however, the recipes in Butters' book I found most appealing. In addition to step-by-step photos detailing preparations, the author provides interesting information surrounding the fare. For instance, there are several recipes calling for garlic scapes, the flower stalks from onions, leeks, chives and garlic. Butters explain that until recently, the scapes - cut by growers to enhance bulb growth - were discarded until their value as a unique food was discovered.

"When garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and delicious and can be snapped off just as you would harvest asparagus," Butters wrote.

Scapes provide flavor and crunchiness when added to salads and soups; cook well in stir-fries; and can be processed in vinegars as pickles.

Not surprising, Butters' recipes specify organic ingredients and many are available at Butters' farm outside Moscow. One such product bearing the MaryJanes Farm label is ChillOver Powder, an ingredient called for in many of the tempting desserts she presents.

Interestingly, Butters three favorite recipes in the book - You Handsome You (a molded shrimp dish); a dessert called Mint Julep MakeOver ComeOver; and Make Your Knees Weak Chocolate (see below) - call for ChillOver Powder.

As an avid cookbook collector, I was thrilled to add Butters' book to my collection and if you don't have your own copy as yet, am sharing three of my top recipe picks below.

Garlic Scape Frittata *1 1/2 cups garlic scapes, chopped * 1/2 cup scallions, chopped * 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil * 1/4 cup hot water * 4 large eggs n salt and pepper to taste Place garlic scapes and scallions into a 10-inch skillet with 1 teaspoon oil, the hot water and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Beat eggs with salt and pepper. Add remaining oil to skillet. When oil is hot, shake skillet to spread greens evenly, and add eggs. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until top is set (2 to 3 minutes). Cut into wedges; serve hot or cold. Yield: 2 servings.

Make Your Knees Weak Chocolate * 1 packet ChillOver Powder * 1/2 cup sugar * 1/8 teaspoon salt * 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder * 2 egg yolks * 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk * 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract * 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream * Optional: whipped cream, shaved chocolate, powdered sugar, and toasted coconut for garnish. Blend together ChillOver Powder, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and coconut milk. Add to saucepan and beat well. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in almond extract, and cook until mixture reaches the consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Beat cream until it holds stiff peak. Fold into ChillOver mixture. Pour into a 4-cup mold or serving dish and follow basic ChillOver instructions. Garnish as desired. Yield: 8 servings.

Zucchini Salsa * 1 cup zucchini, finely chopped * 1 tablespoon salt * 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped * 1 cup fresh sweet corn * 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped * 1/2 cup Anaheim chilis, finely chopped * 1/4 cup red onion, chopped * 2 cloves garlic, crushed * 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried) * 1 tablespoon ground cumin * 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Mix together the zucchini and salt and let sit for about an hour. Drain and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve in a hollowed-out zucchini boat.

"MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook: For the Farmgirl in All of Us" By MaryJane Butters $35 Clarkson Potter/Publishers (A division on Random House) Available at local or major bookstores For additional information, visit Butters' Web site.

Vera White's food column appear weekly in the Daily News.