Have you ever thought about abandoning your hectic modern existence for life on an idyllic farm? You know, "living off the land" instead of living for the weekend?
Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell fled New York City together to do just that. Several years ago, the couple bought a beautiful historic home overlooking a 60-acre farm in Sharon Springs, New York, an hour west of Albany. The farm is a real-deal operation, with goats, pigs, chickens and one "narcissistic llama." (Yes, there is a red barn on the property.) The pair even starred in a Planet Green show called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" that chronicled their new adventure.
Now, they're building an empire reminiscent of Martha Stewart's. (And ironically, Brent used to be Martha's Vice President of Healthy Living.) Visit the boys' addictive lifestyle site, Beekman1802.com, and you'll find charming farm anecdotes and clever craft projects. When you're done vicariously living the dream, you can mosey over to the shopping section, which peddles everything artisanal, from goat milk soaps they make themselves to fancy cheeses (some of which actually require signing up for a waiting list to buy.) There's even a memoir written by Kilmer-Purcell (fun tidbit: he used to work as a drag queen!). The only thing you can't purchase directly is their cookbook, which is a shame, frankly. (Luckily, it's available on Amazon.)
Unlike many character-driven cookbooks, the food in The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, which is comprised of homegrown heirloom fruits and vegetables, is truly the star. All of it is elegant and none of it is fussy -- just like the book's design.
A few highlights ...
Clever feature: Pages at the beginning of the book in which to scribble your own family's recipes
Cooking advice that might as well be a proverb: "Stock in the freezer is like money in the bank: useful in so many ways."
Unexpected deep moment: "Over time, we grew to appreciate each season on the farm ... the time between the first cherry blossoms and the arrival of their sour fruit, and the cold months between the last tomato and the first, now seems to reinforce that there are true cycles in life -- an important fact somehow lost in a world in which everything is always available."
Recipes We Most Want to Make:
Deviled Eggs with Smoked Trout
Dandelion Salad with Slab Bacon, Croutons and Hot Bacon Dressing
Ham and Cheese Strata
Jumble Berry Pie
Homemade Lemonade with Lavender and Vanilla
Buttery Peach Cake
Overall rating, on a scale of 1 - 5: 5! We want to make each and every one of these recipes. And then we want to move in with the Beekman Boys. Don't look at us like that -- they so have room.