NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh-Kilmer Purcell, who are better known as the Beekman Boys, have been ceaseless chroniclers of their lifestyle journey from city slickers to organic farmers.
Subjects of cable TV show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” the former Manhattanites turned bucolic when they lost their jobs in the city and turned their weekend getaway, the Beekman 1802 mansion and surroundings, into a working farm and full-time business.
“The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” gathers 110 seasonally-arranged recipes that highlight the heirloom fruits and vegetables grown on their 60-acre goat farm in Sharon, New York.
Ridge, 38, spoke to Reuters about getting back to the garden, eating seasonally and why he hopes each recipe in the book will engender 100 more.
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: “The initial idea was to collect recipes we would cook after harvesting things from our garden. A lot of the recipes our families had been making for a long time, so we adapted them. That’s how the heirloom cookbook came about. In the book we have blank spaces where you can write your own.”
Q: How do you define heirloom?
A: “An heirloom variety of anything is something that’s never been adulterated. If it’s in its pure form, never been genetically modified you can call it heirloom. We grow 110 different varieties heirloom vegetables in our garden, and we raise heirloom pigs and chickens and turkeys. Right now we’re growing about 80 percent of the food we consume.”
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of farming?
A: “We are an organically managed farm. The overriding philosophy is the idea of heirloom, things that have intrinsic value, rather than monetary value. That’s why we love things that have a story. Our other philosophy is seasonal living. We try to make the most of each season. Once our tomatoes are gone, including what we’ve canned or frozen, we don’t have any tomatoes till spring.”
Q: Do you slaughter your farm animals?
A: “Chickens, turkeys and rabbits we do ourselves. For larger animals, cows and pigs, we have someone else. We’re not vegetarians. We would rather have an animal we knew was cared for on our plate. When we sit down to have an animal we’ve raised, we always think about where it came from, which is more than most people can say.”
Company’s Coming Apple Cake (reprinted from the cookbook)
Any type of apple can be used but Granny Smiths tend to be too dry and McIntoshes break down too much and get mushy.
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups diced (1/2 inch) peeled apple (from 2 to 3 apples)
Nut Crunch Topping
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
For the cake - Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
With a mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the granulated and brown sugars, and beat until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Fold in the apples just until combined. Scrape the mixture into the pan.
For the topping - With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter until the mixture resembles fat, coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts. Scatter the topping over the cake batter in an even layer.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in the pan on a rack. Serve directly from the pan.