September 3, 2015


Many of the recipes are approachable and easy, of a younger generation than one typically finds in New England cookbooks which can be overly puritan and laden with cranberries, winter squash and rhubarb. This targets the taco-generation with a more youthful approach.

Way back in July, Joe and I attended the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival near Burlington, VT. It was such a hot and humid day, even under the tents, that we decided to avoid the crowds and move onto some of the barn on the estate to cool off. The barns also had various vendors of New England treats and products, but one stood out to us - Jessica Robinson's table with home canning, home-made whoopee pies and her new cookbook - New England Farmgirl.

The author, Jessica Robinson showing off how to stay cool, with home made preserves and pickles.

Jessica was so warm and welcoming, which I could only imagine was difficult with hundreds of people and temperatures that were getting close to 100 degrees indoors. Maybe the heat was just getting to her and her husband, since they were so funny and friendly - but we quickly became friends. She gave me one of her books and this insane peanut butter whoopee pie with cream cheese peanut butter frosting (yum), and as Joe hates chocolate and peanut butter ( I know, right?), I had the rich, chocolate and creamy, salty and sweet delight all to myself.(as if I needed it, but I was on vacation so I rationalized away - beside, it was a cheese festival - hello?).

Now, two months later, with cooler weather arriving in New England, I am starting to bake some treats from this great book. I read the book for about a week, marveling at the photos which Jessica took herself, and at many of the similarities between her grandmother, and my mother (they are of the same generation, clearly). Her French Canadian roots show strong in the recipes which include much more than just sweet treats and baked goods (I can't wait to make the French Canadian meat pies).

Most of the recipes are simple, and not purely New England, by any means (but I am one of those folks who fall into the Whoopee-Pies-Come-from-New-England camp, even though my family never made them, not did my mother, although she was a serious baker. You will find these recipes more approachable than most New England cook books.

I had to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Whoopie Pies. I mean, I HAD to test them.

Sure, there is clam chowder and baked beans, but no Indian Pudding, there are hermits but no gingerbread. In many ways, this is a very personal book - actual recipes that Jessica either grew up with, remembered from her grandmother or mother, or one which she herself has invented or introduced into the mix for her own, new family. The book is clearly authentic, and offers a more modern take on what a farm-raised girl from the 80's would cook.

It's clear that Jessica was raised on a sugar bush (a maple syrup farm), which is in Connecticut, as most recipes seem to include maple syrup in place of sugar. A nice idea, but probably impractical for most young cooks, who might find that dishing out 1 or 2 cups of maple syrup per recipe is just too much of an extravagance. I would imagine that one could substitute sugar or another sugar syrup - check out this site and note if your recipe is for baked goods or not, as it makes a difference, and is rarely a 1 for 1. Aside from this note, I find no faults with this book. It is designed beautifully, very high quality printing and nice, heavy cover. Plus, Jess is just such a nice person that you HAVE to get this book and add it to your collection -

note: This is a personal review, and the publisher nor publicist has contacted me or paid me (but I did ask Jessica if I could review her book, and she provided a copy for me for free - but I did get a free whoopee pie too, so I might just be on a sugar high).


  1. Those whoopie pies look ridiculous (and by ridiculous I mean ridiculously good!). I've never even had a whoopie pie before and now you've got me wanting to try them.

  2. Anonymous1:25 PM

    dear matt
    hitting off the visuals, for cocktails you could make an alternative whoopie pie with roasted mushroom caps (just now boletus are everywhere here ) and chicken liver pate. dare ya!
    all best,
    ~ 02568

  3. thank you for taking the time to review my cookbook!


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