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“Simply Me” Author aims to prepare all “Simply in Season” recipes in one year

   
 


Wendy Hammond makes Velvety Vegetable Soup, one of the recipes from “Simply in Season."

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Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network joint release
October 30, 2009
-John Longhurst

WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa.— First there was Julie and Julia, the book and then hit-movie, about one woman’s quest to make all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

Now there is “Simply Me: A year of eating locally, mindfully and simply,” a new blog by Wendy Hammond of Grand Rapids, MI about her goal of making every recipe in Simply in Season (Herald Press, 2005).

“It started out with me wanting to make good use of fresh vegetables I was getting from the community shared agriculture organization I belong to,” says Hammond, who works in church relations for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. “When I saw Simply in Season, I thought that would be a perfect way to do it.”

Like Julie Powell, the author of Julie and Julia, Hammond decided to take it a step further. She wanted to do more than just make the recipes—she wanted to use it as an opportunity to provide purpose and meaning, along with good food.

“I could relate to Powell—I also needed a project to get off my duff,” she says. “I also related to the comfortable routine of cooking with one’s husband [and] wanted to something to strengthen my feelings about food, health, eating locally, and [my] faith.”

Like Powell, who committed herself to making all 500 recipes in Child’s book in one year, Hammond would like to make the more than 300 recipes in Simply in Season in that same time frame. But she isn’t worried if she misses the goal.

“I’d like to do one recipe every day, but my travel schedule won’t allow that to be possible,” says Hammond of the project, which started in August. “Right now I’m averaging four to five recipes a week.”

Plus, she adds, “this isn’t a competition. It’s about learning to eat locally, mindfully, and simply. It’s also supposed to be fun, and a way to encourage other people to consider using Simply in Season.”

She also isn’t going to worry unduly about not being able to find each and every ingredient from a local farm.

“I’m committed to using local food, but not everything is available all year up here in Michigan,” she says. “While I will try to buy most of my vegetables locally, if I can’t find it here I will buy it from a grocery store.”

The more important goal, she says, is eating mindfully and living simply.

“What we eat impacts our own bodies as well as others,” she shares. “I want to be more aware of how animals are treated, how our eating choices impact the environment, and how that in turn affects people in developing countries.”

As for the book itself, she loves Simply in Season. For one thing, she says, “the recipes are simple. No cow hooves in jelly here!”

It’s the kind of cookbook anyone can use, she adds, noting that she didn’t grow up cooking. “If I can do it, anyone can learn to make these recipes,” she says.

On her blog, Hammond describes how she goes about making various items and then offers a review of each recipe, including what “DH”—her Dear Husband, Troy—thinks of it. Mostly, he really likes the results.

Since beginning the blog, Hammond says the experience has been “inspiring—not only about eating locally and simply, but also in terms of helping to affirm and shape my life and faith.”

It’s also helped her see vegetables in a new way.

“Where I live, meat has always been the star attraction of a meal,” she says. “Through Simply in Season, I see that veggies are not just the supporting cast. They can take center stage.”

Hammond hopes that others will be inspired by her effort to try Simply in Season.

“I would love it if others would try out recipes and share their experiences,” she says. “There’s lots of room for creativity, and we can all learn from each other.”

Hammond’s blog can be found at wendypchef.wordpress.com For more information about Simply in Season, go to www.mpn.net/simplyinseason

Herald Press is the book publishing arm of Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN). MPN is the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, providing materials that equip the church to experience and share the gospel from an Anabaptist perspective.