Essential Nourishment – Recipes from My Estonian Farm
Visually stunning and potentially life-changing, Essential Nourishment is your feel-good guide to living well, one delicious meal at a time, one nurturing action at a time.
Essential Nourishment, Recipes from My Estonian Farm is a fundamental education in self-care for women seeking a diet and a lifestyle that feel natural, are easily maintained and don’t sacrifice taste or pleasure.
As a nutrition guide, Essential Nourishment weaves together ancient wisdom on eating and living mindfully with current scientific findings on how to balance nutrients, stabilize blood sugar levels, maintain a favorable acid/alkaline balance and lose weight the healthy way–without deprivation or counting calories. It shows the reader how small changes in diet and lifestyle can boost energy, spark clear thinking, improve digestion, strengthen the immune system and lead to a sense of genuine well-being. As a cookbook, Essential Nourishment is an everyday kitchen companion featuring wholesome ingredients and simple recipes designed to nourish and delight. Each recipe is illustrated by a sensuous full-page photograph taken at my farm and retreat center in Estonia. The farm and its serene natural surroundings provide a magical setting for Essential Nourishment and inspire the reader to start improving her life immediately, one delicious meal at a time, one nurturing action at a time.
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
Winner of the LIVING NOW BOOK AWARDS Gold Medal, USA
Finalist for the BOOK OF THE YEAR Awards, USA
Winner of the prestigious GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARD, Paris, France
INTERVIEWS WITH MARIKA
The story behind the cover image by Donna Currie
In-depth interview by Rick Kleffel, Independant Producer, National Public Radio
BOOK REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS
Essential Nourishment is a book to cherish. Graced with gorgeous photos and abundant knowledge, it is more than a cookbook – it is a holistic lifestyle companion that informs as well as inspires. Marika Blossfeldt’s recipes are healthy, delicious and beautiful. Her approach to the art of eating will nourish the reader with her words and nourish the belly with naturally prepared goodness. Essential Nourishment encourages awareness of not only the foods we eat but of the “food-mood connection,” food energies and even discusses the importance of physical activity and relationships to support a lifestyle filled with conscious intention.
Ashley Ess for Bamboo Magazine, Conscious Family Living, Los Angeles CA
If you wish yourself well, read this book. If you wish to enhance the quality of your life, make its philosophy your own. Easy to understand and inspired by a deep love for food, Marika’s book is a unique life style bible that holds its own in the stormy developments and trends of world cuisine. The author has expertly united the healthiest and most valuable parts of world cuisine with Nordic and Estonian sensibilities.
Dimitri Demjanov, Estonian Culinary Institute, Tallinn, Estonia
Midwest Book Review, Oregon, WI
Penelope Barcelo, Kepler’s Bookstore, Menlo Park, CA
Peter Barrett for Chronogram Magazine, August issue
Ask ten people what their favorite ethnic cuisine is and the answers would likely be predictable: Italian, Greek, Soul, Asian fusion, whatever. Your money would be safe if you bet no one would say “Estonian”. To be honest, Marika Blossfeldt’s self-published cookbook, Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm (Beacon: Delicious Nutrition, 2011; $34.99 softcover) is not exactly an ethnic cookbook, despite the subtitle, but we‘re getting ahead of ourselves.Blossfeldt, an artist and former dancer, is a Kundalini yoga teacher who spends about half of the year teaching and cooking in Beacon; the other part of the year she presides over the Polli Talu Arts Center, a farm-turned-wellness retreat she founded in her native Estonia, and which was the inspiration for the book.
While many of the recipes in Essential Nourishment contain ethnic elements, their more central character belongs in the health spa—yoga retreat category. Some are openly derivative (the barley salad recipe is from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, for example); others are hardly Estonian but do have a personal touch (Spaghetti aglio e olio a là Polli); and others could be from handouts at a health spa (the Chanterelle quiche recipe fits that bill).
What is captivating on the pages, however, are Blossfeldt’s sincerity, compassion, gentleness and good humor. The recipes are clean, wholesome and simple; the introductory essays are positive and instructive. The photographs are uniformly excellent – and what’s not to like about a cookbook that dares include pictures of cats?
The Valley Table, Newburgh, NY
What sort of formula can fall under the rubric of “recipe”? We typically think of a list of foodstuff ingredients, followed by directions for combining, then cooking them to prepare some sort of “food.” But the commonly used phrase “recipe for success” suggests that we can cook up a lot more than a meal, and it is perfectly true. Marika Blossfeldt’s Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm offers up a lot of the sort of recipes you can cook up in your kitchen, all of them quite easy and delicious. But the book itself is a sort of recipe for nothing less than a better life.The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up Essential Nourishment is how heavy it is. This is a beautifully produced book printed on thick, glossy stock, and once you open it up, the reasons will become quite clear. It’s filled with gorgeous, spacious art and photography. Even if you’re not at all interested in the recipes or the food and lifestyle suggestions, the photos and paintings are well worth the price of the ticket. Moreover, the book’s design seems essential to the message and the impact it has. It says that life and food can and should be beautiful. Browsing the pages is a relaxing experience.
Once you get to the text, you’ll find the book is divided into two sections. The first part consists of what I would call recipes for life. This is further divided into “Nutrition and Nourishment” and “Lifestyle.” “Nutrition and Nourishment” is a well-written and concise summary of what we know and need to know about the food we eat. There’s a bit of Michael Pollan here, a bit of Mollie Katzen there, and a smooth, straightforward prose style that gives readers an executive summary on matters such as food labels, blood sugar, oils, food cravings and even water. It’s easily read and helpful advice that informs your shopping decisions. The section on oils was particularly concise and informative.
Lifestyle advice comes from all over the ethnological map. Blossfeldt is a certified kundalini yoga teacher, so you’ll find advice from that perspective here, as well as thoughts about relationships, eating out, working and exercising. Blossfeldt’s brevity serves her purpose perfectly. The expansive layout and beautiful art direction do so as well.
The bulk of the book consists of recipes, organized by type. Blossfeldt doesn’t overdo it. There are a number of sections, and each section contains a few recipes — not too many, just enough. The recipes themselves are generally quite simple, sometimes alarmingly so. But don’t let that fool you. “Roasted Root Vegetables,” for example, looks delicious in the photo, and is as easy to make as the five simple steps suggest. It’s also a hearty meal, full of flavor, but not heavy. “Chilean Bean Stew with Corn” is equally easy, and just as good.
For my money, the “Russian Kale with Raisins and Roasted Pine Nuts” is a favorite. It looks great and works well as an entrée. The recipe as given is a perfect dinner for two. While the preponderance of recipes here are vegetarian, there are recipes for chicken, salmon and shrimp. The book finishes with desserts, drinks, teas, berries and yes, even cacao — chocolate —gets a page.
Given the beautiful paintings and design, Essential Nourishment can serve as both coffee table book and cookbook. You can dip in for a brief primer on oils, then breeze through to an easy recipe (4 steps) for “Black Bean Soup.” You could easily live out of the recipes in this book for a month; Blossfeldt includes breakfast in the mix. If you are looking for a cookbook that satisfies on a number of levels, a book that itself is a recipe, then Essential Nourishment is an essential choice.
Rick Kleffel, Independent Producer, National Public Radio, Capitola, CA
The first Estonian edition of the book Essential Nourishment, by Marika Blossfeldt, came out in 2009. The first English edition appeared in 2011. It is chock-a-block full of wholesome and visually appealing recipes as well as gorgeous photographs of food and European country scenery. Scenery of Marika’s beautiful Estonian farm, to be exact. This “life book” (so much more than a cookbook) is better than plane fare. It is a window into a world where time has slowed to a healing pace, where living in the present is all there is, and there is time to live in gratitude. Cooking is done in a mindful and seasonal way, with fresh food from the gardens and foraged ingredients. I love the way the text in this book is punctuated by frequent bits of information divided into “Essence” and “Action”. These are very real tools for affecting change.Making life a work of art seems to come naturally to Estonian born Marika Blossfeldt. But tracing her roots, the journey back to her kitchen has been a full and interesting one. A globe trotting dancer and painter, early on in the 1970s and 80s she worked and performed in Berlin and later, New York. Eventually her career in performing arts took her all over the world. Some seventeen years ago, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and restoring an old farm.
Now an international art and wellness center called Polli Talu Arts Center, this farm in Estonia is where Marika welcomes visitors, practices and teaches yoga, cooking, wellness, and tends her gardens. Her culinary skills were honed by a course of study at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition and her life direction illuminated by the realization that body, spirit, and mind are one.
Good vibrations and lifestyle suggestions abound in these recipes; the balance of her food and presentation is palpable. Marika’s food is beautiful, delicious, nutritious, and fun. Regionally sourced, Estonian style!
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering in Waldoboro ME
A friend gave me Marika Blossfeldt’s “Essential Nourishment” at a critical, life-changing moment. I had just suffered a mild heart attack and realized that it was time for a lifestyle change. Many people equate “diet” with “deprivation,” when in fact diet really means how we eat, not just what we eat. Look at it this way: automobile-loving Americans would not intentionally put lousy, harmful gas in their gas tanks. Yet we readily fuel our bodies with food that destroys them. “Essential Nourishment” provides a healthy and enjoyable alternative. The recipes are simple, straightforward and delicious, using readily available ingredients. From roasted green beans in a little olive oil and salt (addictive), to zucchini and tomato casserole (earthy and Mediterranean) to amazing brownies made with black beans and a hint of cayenne (surprisingly superb), the food in this book makes eating well the true pleasure it should be. In addition, Blossfeldt provides detailed sections on the science of food which makes for fascinating reading, alongside pages of her own, abstract artwork. By making some simple adjustments (much simpler than I thought they would be) to my eating habits, enhanced by “Essential Nourishment”, and by adding exercise to my daily routine, I have dropped more than 30 pounds, my blood pressure is percolating along at a normal level, my (bad) cholesterol level has dropped dramatically, I am sleeping well, feeling better and, in short, feel like I have been given a second chance at life — not something that comes along too often.
Tom Verde, Pawcatuck, CT
Her tables for cooking grains and legumes take the guesswork out of preparing these important foods from scratch. They are so clear and concise you will refer to them again and again.
Blossfeldt’s warmth and joy shine through on every page and make me want to take a trip to her farm and arts center right away.
Besides being an excellent everyday cooking guide, Essential Nourishment is superbly educational. It belongs on every school’s reading list! I recommend it to all who hold life dear.
Aigi Vahing, Journalist and Writer, Brooklyn, NY
Your book is more beautiful and more informative than I ever could have imagined. I am so excited to work my way through the recipes one by one. And enjoy the photographs as I go … and LEARN so much about eating and cooking in a more healthy way. Very few things are as important, especially now that I’m a new mom and have 2 of us to take good care of!
You have given many people so many gifts through your teaching, your art, your work as a nutrition consultant, your farm, and now – your book!
Greta Winograd, New York NY
The pages inside are full of the most beautiful photography of both the food and the healthy healing landscapes that nature provides us. Looking through this book is food for the soul and spirit, before you even try one recipe. The entire book is printed in high-quality full-color, so that you think you can reach into the page and pluck some delicious morsel, or gather together a bouquet of wildflowers right off the page. You can almost smell the food, the photography is so amazing.
But it’s not just a bunch of pretty pictures! There are recipes — wonderful delicious recipes! And there’s a storehouse of nutritional information at the front of the book.
So we did try recipes. My 13 year old son went through the book and found several he wanted to try. They were a hit with our family. Now he’s home schooling in the fall, and we’re using Essential Nourishment as his primary textbook for Food & Nutrition. The information on nutrition in the beginning of this book is clear and easy to understand, the recipes are simple, delicious, and well-received even by my young teen — helped greatly by the beautiful presentation of the photos for each recipe. Try this book with picky children — let them find something that looks irresistible and then try the recipe together!
I can’t think of anything to change that would make me more satisfied with this book. I don’t even want to put it on the shelf with my other recipe books — it’s much too lovely to sit on a shelf! It deserves to flit back and forth between the kitchen and the coffee table!