Cooking by the Seasons: Simple Vegetarian Feasts, by Kerri Ann Allrich
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703230, 2003, 208 (+2) pp. (Including appendices, and indexes)

I was thrilled to receive Cooking by the Seasons as I’d enjoyed her previous cookbook Cooking By Moonlight. This aimed more specifically at vegetarians and vegans, a large and growing market. Delicious food non-vegetarians will enjoy as well. As with Allrich’s previous work, she writes from a Goddess-centric point of view, while briefly incorporating hints of the God and masculine energies, this work is mostly aimed at women in general.

Divided into four main sections by season, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, each contains a short description of associated colours, elements, brief bits of Goddess lore and so on, as well as menu suggestions for the festivals or sabbats.

Allrich sensibly recommends eating in tune with the seasons to align oneself closer to nature and the Goddess, eating fruits and vegetables as they’re harvested. Many recipes for light fresh greens in the summer, warm simmering soups for the winter. Too often you hear about neo-pagan festivals and such with no actual connection to the changing of the seasons and alignment with Nature; for example, harvest festivals sans the harvesting, etc. This becomes symbolic at best, and at worst supremely naive. Allrich reminds us to “eat in season” to maintain that connection to the Earth and Her bounty.

She includes recipes for flavoured wines, appetizers, soups, main course, salads and desserts for each season with appropriate produce, with a section for notes and additions. Also contains three appendices: resources list to search out ingredients and natural products, as well as a detailed list of cooking terms from US to UK, additionally there is also a measurements conversion chart. Category index, and alphabetical recipe index.

As mentioned in a previous review, I’m no gourmet chef, however, when reviewing a cookbook, it makes sense to give the recipes a go. So I had a go at making the Baked Eggplant with Goat Cheese (page 74), as I love eggplant though rarely know what to do with it. It turned out fantastic, absolutely divine. I even managed to find something my notoriously picky husband (a non-vegetarian) loved, the Bread Crumb Pasta For Two (page 121). The recipes were easy to follow, making me almost feel like a chef on surveying and enjoying the finished product.

I’m gradually learning that food can be much more than stuff you eat to stay alive – it can also be a delicious life affirming experience to be sensually induced and indulge in. Kerri Ann Allrich’s cookbooks have contributed to a large part of that. If you’re looking for something deliciously flavourful to add to your cooking repertoire, pick this up.