It’s been seven years since former restaurateur and chef, now farmer and author Kurt Timmermeister stopped serving his famed farm-to-table Sunday dinners celebrated by foodies up and down the West Coast. Since then, he’s written two books — “Growing a Farmer” and “Growing a Feast” — dug a cheese cave on his Vashon Kurtwood Farm for producing farmstead cheese, opened Kurt Farm Shop in Seattle to sell farm-fresh ice cream, and for the last year, learned to be a publisher for his newest book, “Farm Food, Volume I: Fall & Winter.”
The contemporary Renaissance man will read and sign from his new cookbook at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at Vashon Bookshop.
Though Timmermeister will be the first to say he never imagined doing what he does today, the engine behind his success seems to be a never-ending drive to manifest his many ideas, fueled, of course, by plenty of hard work.
“I always have ideas,” he said with a laugh. “I’m 55 and trying to figure out what direction I’m going in now. I get giggly excited because I don’t know what it will be. This one, where I’ve taken on publisher, has been interesting, and I’m still learning. I love taking on challenges about things I don’t know.”
What he does know — learned from transforming his blackberry-laden land into Kurtwood Farm — is how to create seasonal meals made of fare grown and harvested from his island gardens and pastures. “Farm Food” is distinctly Vashon, he said, and the photographs, which he shot on film, look like “winter on the island.”
Yet, while his recipes and photographs may be site specific, Timmermeister adds a key ingredient generally not found in cookbooks: the context or life-events in which the recipes evolved.
“It’s not just a cookbook,” he said. “It has six chapters, one for each month and an essay in each about life on the farm, like putting my last dog down. The point I want to make is that food has context. Who’s making dinner, and what’s going on? You pick up a cookbook, and there’s a recipe for tomato soup, but who’s making it? This book answers ‘Why am I making this?’”
With winter and fall out of the way, spring and summer come next and will be the subject of “Farm Food, Volume II,” due out next year.
Timmermeister said he’s curious about what parts of the cookbooks will spark an interest. It’s been six years since the release of “Growing a Farmer,” and he still gets emails from readers, but they’re not always about the chickens and the bacon.
“They’ll write: ‘You let me know that I can craft my life the way I want it to be,’” he said. “I didn’t see that coming. I’m thrilled people read and remember different things, and hopefully they’re also eating better food.”