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Radical hospitality, nurturing comfort: Italian chicken stew

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Blue Kitchen

(Read caption) Big-flavored, rustic, and soul satisfying, this chicken stew is a recipe you'll return to again and again.

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One of the pleasures of writing Blue Kitchen is the opportunities we get to review cookbooks. We love food and we love the written word. Cookbooks give us both. The latest volume to come across our desk celebrates a place that has helped support the written word for 25 years now.

Hedgebrook is a writing retreat on Whidbey Island in Washington state, 48 acres with a farmhouse and six cabins. Since 1988, those cabins have been home to an impressive list of women writers, including Eve Ensler, Jane Hamilton, Carolyn Forché and Gloria Steinem, all enjoying what Hedgebrook calls “radical hospitality.” 

Amy Wheeler, Executive Director of Hedgebrook, explains it like this: “As women, we are used to being the nurturers. We make sure others are fed, clothed and taken care of. We enable their work and visions, sometimes at the expense of our own.” Hedgebrook turns the tables, nurturing women writers, feeding them, caring for them and giving them time to write.

With the 'Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality,' the famed retreat’s chefs share recipes prepared for the communal table in the farmhouse. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will support Hedgebrook’s mission. Written by Denise Barr and Julie Rosten and released through She Writes Press, it contains more than ninety recipes as well as original writings by a number of Hedgebrook alumnae. It’s also filled with beautiful photography— of the food, of course, but also images of the place that resonate with peace, comfort, and joy.

The recipes are rich in comfort foods— lavender shortbread, savory galettes, clam chowder, cauliflower mac and cheese… and this Italian chicken stew, with chunks of chicken, potatoes, and artichoke hearts, brightened with capers, olives, red pepper flakes, and lemon. Reading the recipe, we knew it would be good, but we were not prepared for just how good— big-flavored, rustic, and soul satisfying.


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