Weekend Cooking: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, further known as AVM, has become one of my very favorite books.  I read it for the first time back in 2008 and it changed my life.  Seriously.  I now have a garden with lots of veggies in it and I go to the Farmer’s Market once a week in the summer and probably every other week in the winter.  I now know where my food comes from (well, at least most of it) and it’s all because of Barbara Kingsolver.

When the planting season was almost upon us, I decided it was time for a reread.  You know, to get me in the mood to plant things.  Even though I really didn’t need encouragement, I couldn’t wait for it to get warm enough to plant yummy things!  But what better way to reread this book than have Ms. Kingsolver herself read it to me?

AVM is Kingsolver’s chronicle of how her family stopped using the grocery store and started using the resources that were in their very backyard.  They grew their own food, used the Farmer’s Market (ergo: their neighbors), they cooked, they canned, they kept it to a 100 mile radius (I *think* that’s right) all to see if they could!  Working together, the whole family was able to provide (most) their own food for the whole year, making it a true family affair.  This is one of the things I love most about this book.  The audio version of the book is a family affair, with Kingsolver, Hopp her husband, and Camille her daughter all narrating the parts they wrote.

One of the most powerful messages this book has is where our food comes from.  The thought of just how much OIL goes into getting our food around this country, especially in light of what is happening in the Gulf is shocking, heartbreaking, and ridiculously expensive and pointless.  My buddy Chris over at Stuff As Dreams are Made On just happened to review this book yesterday and I can think of no better way to put this than how he did:

Think of that tomato that you buy in December. It most likely comes from California where it was grown on a giant farm where it’s sprayed with tons of pesticides. On top of that, the tractors used to spray all of those pesticides are using lots of fuel. Then they go through processing and are packaged (more fuel). Then they are loaded onto an eighteen wheeler and shipped to wherever you live (a LOT more fuel). All for that one tomato. Now think of the fuel crisis we’re going through now and how DEPENDENT we all are on gasoline an

d how destructive it has become. For each meal we eat at our dinner table, an underestimate is that we might as well each drink a quart of motor oil when you consider the transport, packaging, and harvest.

Now think about this…you can get MUCH better tasting milk, cheese, oats, meat, vegetables, fruit, seafood, etc at your farmers market or even at the supermarket if your just mindful of where the food comes from. BUY LOCAL. And you stop this chain. The closer to home, the better the taste. Naturally, it’s fresher and it’s gone through less wear and tear. Even better yet, grow what you can. Even in an apartment you can do some patio peppers and tomatoes and herbs! I’m having so much fun with mine :) Bake your own bread! It’s so easy in a bread maker.

It is easy!  I’ve done it!

It is not my intention to sound preachy, but it’s hard not to! I’m frustrated with this country and myself, because I know I’m not doing enough and I have changed so much in the last two years.  The changes Kingsolver makes are an accumulation of years of changing her family’s eating habits and I hope I am doing the same.  All these pictures?  They are from my own garden.  I am hopeful that I will have enough tomatoes this year to can and use all year until next spring, when I’ll start all over again with an even bigger garden than this year.

Trust me.  Growing your own food (or getting it from the farmer’s market!) tastes better than anything you will find in a grocery store.

And you’ll feel good doing it.

Start small.  Check out your neighborhood farmer’s market.  They are popping up all over the place.  Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have a yard, you can grow tomatoes in a pot.  I’ve done it! And get this book.  Kingsolver has the perfect reading voice, not too fast, not to slow and soothing as a mother singing a lullaby to a baby.  All the recipes Camille mentions in the book are also posted on their website.  Here is one of the favorites of mine that I have tried.


From Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

Summer squash (an assortment)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice vegetables lengthwise into strips no thicker than ½ inch. Combine olive oil and spices (be generous with the herbs) and marinate vegetables, making sure all faces of the vegetable slices are covered. Then cook on grill until vegetables are partially blackened, you may want to use grill basket for onions and peppers.

2 loaves French bread (16 to 18 inches)
2 balls mozzarella (8 oz.)
3 large tomatoes
Basil leaves

Cut loaves of bread lengthwise. Arrange bread on baking sheets and layer with slices of mozzarella first, grilled vegetables next, and slices of tomato last. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and place the baking sheets under a broiler until cheese in melted. Garnish with leaves of fresh basil. Cut in pieces to serve.[/print_this]

It’s delicious!  And if you worry that there isn’t any meat on it, get a Portabello mushroom.  It’s so meaty, you won’t miss the meat.

For more recipes, either read the book 🙂 or visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website.  But really, read it, it is such a good book.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Published by: Harper Audio
Format: Audiobook
On Sale: May 1, 2007
ISBN: 978-0060853570

Purchase from

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell’s Books

Other reviews by:


I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

16 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

      1. So far so good. We found a pre-bagged and heartily growing hanging tomato plant at Home Depot for $12.00. Ours will have to be prepped from seedlings, so we figured this more mature plant could keep us in tomatoes for a while. Nothing yet, but we're keeping an eye out. Our pepper plants, on the other hand, are exploding.
        .-= Andi´s last blog ..Summer Reading with the Rockets =-.

  1. I've done the same, inspired by the same book! I now have ten different veggies and herbs
    in my backyard, and want to plant more! It's a wonderful inspiration.

  2. I LOVE this post Heather 😀 Everything about it is fantastic!! And the pictures of your garden are fantastic. I swear we have identical jalapeno plants :p Question…is that like a little seedling bed that you have? I love it! Did you build that yourself? I totally want to make one! I love it with all the different compartments. I'd imagine you could just let onions and herbs just grow in there in their different compartments. So cool!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..The Backyard Produce Section and Weekend Cooking =-.

  3. Congratulations! It's great that you were so inspired by the book that you started your own vegetable garden. I loved the book, and have started buying at a local farmer (some of the time) and making sure the food I buy from the supermarket is not from too far away.

    I once was at the supermarket (I'm in the Netherlands, Europe) and picked up some apples, they were from New Zealand. When I left the supermarket, I could see, on the other side of the road, one of our local apple farms (there are many of them here). How ridiculous is it that the shop should sell apples from so far away!
    .-= Leeswammes (Judith)´s last blog ..The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet =-.

  4. I loved this book! It really got me thinking about the benefits of eating locally and seasonally… which we have tried hard to follow. Your post has me thinking it's probably time for a reread for me, too!
    .-= JoAnn´s last blog ..Out walking the dog… =-.

  5. I'm currently reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and after reading your review, I desperately want to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"! Love how books do that. I try to implement as many healthy, sustainable eating practices as I can, however being a fairly recent college graduate, I'm still having trouble finding the money, tools and space. Hopefully, Kingsolver has some ideas.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Reading Update: War of the Bloods in my Veins =-.

  6. very weird — I could have sworn I wrote a long comment here over the weekend. Hummmm. Did I dream it?

    I admit that I haven't read the book — mostly because I'm already living it. Well, I don't live on a farm and our yard is now too shady for much of a veggie garden, but we've eaten local and organic for more than 10 years now.

    I am very fortunate to have friends who raise beef, pork, lamb, and chickens, so I know where my meat comes from and how it was fed. I get eggs and veggies and fruits and cheeses from local sources most of the year.

    You are so right that local and in season are the right things to do for a zillion reasons. Great post. I could rant and rave on this topic forever!

    The panini sounds yummy. I'll be waiting for July.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday 80 =-.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *