With so many farmers markets, community gardens, backyard gardens, homesteads and farms in Maine, sustainability is more than a trend here. It’s a way of life. But how can you live a little bit gentler when it comes to eating if you’re new to it?
That’s something a new cookbook, “Green Plate Special: Sustainable and Delicious Recipes” by Christine Burns Rudalevige, seeks to answer.
“If you look at my recipes in the book, they are interesting but also affordable and accessible at the same time,” Rudalevige said.
With recipes such as multigrain homemade pancake mix, creamy potato and spinach curry and pork and ricotta meatballs, this cookbook gives familiar foods a gourmet spin.
“Converting somebody to think more sustainably about eating is a bit of a slog — it’s one eater at a time,” Rudalevige said. “You have to attract them with really beautiful plates of food and then kind of back into ‘this is sustainable because.’”
The book also really hones in on the doability of greener eating. Tips are peppered throughout the book, including a section on how and where to store certain ingredients. In another section, she talks about how to be waste-free in your food shopping.
“I think it’s really important to think of this book as a recipe book first and a book about sustainability second. I really believe that if you eat a great plate of food, you’re going to want to know how it’s made,” Rudavelige said.
Rudalevige, a classically trained cook who lives in Brunswick, has worked as a chef, culinary instructor, farmers’ market manager and caterer. She channels her passion for food and cooking into food writing, but she started her career as a sports writer.
“That was the year that they let women into locker rooms. It was really fun,” Rudalevige said. Since then she has written about news, computer networking technology and more. She also worked as a press secretary.
But it was while she was living in central Pennsylvania that she decided to change directions and work more with food. She went to culinary school at the Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh — a three-hour drive from her family’s home.
“I didn’t do it to be a chef. I did it because I wanted to be a better food writer — to be able to talk to chefs on their level with their language,” Rudalevige said.
That experience was filled with “a lot of a-ha moments,” she said.
These days, she writes a weekly food column for the Portland Press Herald and teaches cooking classes.
“I’m a normal person with a normal life. … That’s my message: If I can do it, you can do it, too,” Rudalevige said.