In Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, Brittany Wood Nickerson offers us a personal, almost magical lesson in how we are the hero in our own healing journey. Her confidence in each of us to be able to connect with our bodies so that we may begin to take care of ourselves is evident throughout this beautifully written and photographed book. I hesitate to call it a cookbook even though the recipes within are the kind that I have already tabbed to make again. The vibrant green and pleasantly sweet cilantro lemonade, which I made for the Mediterranean Living crew last weekend, will definitely find itself on my table for years to come. I also hesitate to call this a book on herbal medicine even though it has enough information on herbal remedies to make you feel as if you have just taken a year’s class on herbalism. You will learn how different tastes in food (Sweet/bland, salty, sour, pungent & bitter) effect our physiology and how using these tastes in the kitchen can create a new, healing relationship with our bodies Brittany’s book reads like an autobiography, but not of Brittany, although she is a master storyteller, it is more your autobiography, a retelling of your own story and how it can be changed by reconnecting with your body and simply eating and living in nature. I own over 2,000 cookbooks, but the special ones, the ones with the tattered and splattered pages, go on a small bookcase in my kitchen. Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen has earned a spot on that bookcase.
Try Brittany’s Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Sage
When I buy a new cookbook, the first thing I look for is if the book has large, high-quality, colorful food photographs. I love seeing what the food looks like before I make a recipe, and it makes me more likely to make the recipe if it looks good. Brittany went all out with this aspect of her cookbook, Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen. The cover is bright, beautiful, and inviting. This is a cookbook that looks gorgeous on display in your kitchen. Not only are there photos of the recipes, but also of the herbs, the gardens, and personal moments of Brittany’s herbal practice.
There are profiles of many common herbs where she goes in-depth into the health qualities of each herb. I was surprised and learned so much about the herbs that I use almost daily. I had no idea about some of the health qualities the herbs had. Most of us know that herbs are healthy, but don’t know the specifics of what they are doing to our body. If you’re looking to learn more about herbs, while also getting a lot of original recipes to try, definitely get this cookbook.
There is a really varied collection of recipes which I loved. Herbs are used very liberally in Mediterranean cooking, and Brittany has created some amazing Mediterranean inspired recipes. Her recipe for Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) is a brilliant version. She uses brown rice instead of white rice, which adds some nuttiness. The Armenian version called “yalanchi” have pine nuts in them, and they are some of my favorite versions of stuffed grape leaves. Pine nuts combined with dried currants in this recipe remind me of Middle Eastern food, and creates some awesome texture, as well as sweetness and nuttiness.
Another Mediterranean inspired recipe that jumped out at me was the Garlic Scapes in White Wine. Mediterranean food is all about freshness and simplicity. Brittany stays true to this by using what is seasonally available to her, and cooking it simply with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and white wine.
There are also some amazing Asian inspired recipes, which isn’t surprising because Asian cultures have been using herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Vegetable Curry with Thai Basil is a gorgeous dish that has complex herb flavors and a creamy rich taste. This is one of the most beautiful recipes in the entire cookbook. You’ve probably had naan bread before at an Indian restaurant, but Brittany’s version spreads herbed ghee on top. These are really comforting, and are perfect for dipping in curries, soups, and sauces.
Brittany has created some great herbal refreshments and teas as well. I tried the cilantro lemonade, and it was insanely refreshing. I am going to try the lavender fizz also. It’s a fermented lavender drink that takes 5 days total to make. The picture is so beautiful I have to make it.
This is a modern cookbook with so much more than just recipes. Brittany’s unique voice is evident throughout the book in articles, tips, and notes. She talks about so much more than food and herbs. She talks about ways to live a happier, healthier lifestyle with the use of herbal medicine. Her natural approach to healing is very admirable and her recipes are for every occasion. I can’t wait to use this book more in my cooking adventures.
Order Brittany’s new book Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen here.
Try Brittany’s Deep Sea Purple Kraut here.