A few years ago, Lisa Turner and her husband wrote a mission statement for their business at Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport. It is simple: to delight the palate. For the last decade and a half, they have farmed 15 acres and five greenhouses, providing flavorful produce to customers and family year-round.

Local food, much touted and occasionally criticized as a movement, simply tastes better, says Turner in the introduction to her new cookbook, The Eat Local Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from a Maine Farm. But it’s also about keeping money in your community and knowing your food is traveling a shorter distance to get to you.

Turner’s cookbook comes across as a natural extension of her philosophy. In it about 125 recipes are seasonally arranged with subcategories for appetizers, salad, side dishes, entrees and desserts. The recipes feature both ordinary and exotic produce available in Maine, as well as meats and seafood. Turner’s prose is clear and direct, sometimes humorous.

What’s in here for spring? Broccoli raab with white beans, and garlic shrimp with baby bok choi, for instance. Spring appetizers? Try crab cakes on pea shoots, or rustle up some radish sandwiches. The latter dish is ridiculously easy; the former will take some fussing, but not much. Most recipes sound delicious and require only a few ingredients.

You’ll also find classic pot roast, a recipe courtesy of Jeff Landry, chef/owner at The Farmer’s Table in Portland. While a handful of the book’s recipes are contributions from Maine chefs, others are from members of the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). Most are Turner’s own.

The beauty of this book is its simplicity. No roux needs to be whipped, no mysterious culinary term requires an Internet search. Ingredient lists are short, directions are clear and uncomplicated. Nothing intimidates. It’s a paperback with no photographs. It’s a book to be used, not displayed.
Turner isn’t a fanatic. She doesn’t avoid ingredients that aren’t availably locally, for instance. Pepper, cinnamon, lemon and olive oil don’t come from New England, but our food would be less delicious without them. On the other hand, there’s simply no reason to get apple juice from China, she says.
The Eat Local Cookbook has a personal feel. Each recipe begins with a paragraph that gives credit to the recipe’s source or provides informal notes to the cook. The how-to chapters are conversational in tone as well. Included are short chapters on gardening essentials, how to eat local (buy from farmers markets, CSAs, etc.), and basics such as pesto, tomato sauce, piecrust and balsamic vinaigrette. The final chapter has A-Z tips for vegetable storage. It’s a nice parting touch.

In 2001 Nancy Heiser wrote a cookbook, Seat-of-the-pants Suppers, now out-of-print. It made no mention of local food. She is a freelance writer and a restaurant reviewer for the Maine Sunday Telegram.