SHELBURNE - Another cookbook? When Melissa Pasanen, chief food correspondent for the Burlington Free press, decided to put her passion and expertise with food to work in a cookbook, she knew she had to do something different. I get so many cookbooks and they dont add much. She started talking the idea over with Amy Trubeck at the University of Vermont where Melissa had taken some courses and a friendship developed. Amy had been director of the Vermont Fresh Network, a collaborative of farmers, food producers, and chefs to capitalize on and use the wonderful array of foods produced in Vermont. The idea for doing a cookbook with Shelburne Farms came from their discussions. One of the first things we did as a family was to join Shelburne Farms when we came back to Vermont 8 years ago, says Melissa, The idea of basing the book on Shelburne Farms made so much sense!
Melissas enthusiasm for the project is amazing and must have been evident in her initial email correspondence with President Alec Webb and Vice-President Director Megan Camp and others at Shelburne Farms. Shelburne Farms has the sense of personality and place I was looking for. I wanted to create a book with more than recipes, a book that tells the story. Indeed, with the help of the Inn at Shelburne Farms Head Chef Rick Gencarelli, this is exactly what Cooking with Shelburne Farms does. The books subtitle, Food and Stories from Vermont and the cover photo of the magnificent Farm Barn with the beautiful Brown Swiss cows that have made the Farms Farmhouse Cheddar a regular award winner are only hints of the exciting contents and beautiful photography contained in this very unique cookbook.
Pasanen found that her partnership with Shelburne Farms provided the foundation she needed. The mission of the Farms is to cultivate a conservation ethic and does this by serving as an educational resource by practicing rural land use that is environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable. Its a working farm and Pasanen notes, Food is not the main mission of the Farms, but it is a big part of it. This cookbook is educational - another aspect of the mission - and using the Farms as a resource, I was able to weave the stories of Vermont farmers, cheesemakers, and maple sugarers into the context of Vermonts agricultural heritage.