In Sweet Nature, Beth Dooley makes a persuasive case for replacing sugar with honey and maple syrup. She argues that natural sweeteners are not only better nutritional choices but add deeper, more complex flavors to recipes and help support local farmers and ecosystems. A range of unusual recipes, with Mette Nielsen’s artfully lit and composed food photographs, contribute to this compelling message.
Dooley introduces many types of honey and maple products, giving a tour that includes both the delicate and floral and the strong and woodsy palettes of single-source raw honey varieties, as well as information about maple sugar, maple vinegar, and the various kinds of maple syrup. She demonstrates how to substitute these ingredients for sugar in other recipes, offers helpful cooking tips, like lightly oiling measuring cups so that honey will easily slip out, alongside storage advice and bits of culinary history.
The recipes begin with sweetened twists on traditional breakfast favorites like granola, muffins, and scones and continue with intriguing yet simple mains, sides, snacks, and beverages for other mealtimes. Many recipes showcase the Northern Heartland’s Nordic heritage and locally available berries, wild rice, fish, and game, like Fennel Maple Herring and Scandinavian Ahorn Bitters, a spiced and fruity holiday tipple.
Chapters about making a vibrant array of condiments and syrups, infusions, and elixirs will appeal to home cooks, and recipe introductions are packed with ideas for using these recipes in everyday cooking. Many recipes are tailor-made for gift giving. From zesty chutneys to mustards to cocktail syrups, there are loads of innovative, sweet, and savory recipes to pore over.
Sweet Nature is a beautifully written and illustrated cookbook with a regional emphasis. It provides an abundance of reasons for stocking more maple and honey in the pantry and more maple trees and honey bees in our neighborhoods.
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