Local cookbook wins national prize

The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, written by Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan, recently placed first in the non-fiction category of the 2012 Writer’s Digest contest for self-published books.

The authors were awarded $1,000 in prize money and the book will be featured in the March 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. This is not the only award the book has received, it also took home first place in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards in the Regional Cookbook category.

“We were thrilled to win,” Evans said. “Especially being a cookbook in a non-fiction category, there is a lot of competition. It’s wonderful.”

Evans is the co-founder of the Davis Farmers Market and the Davis Food Co-Op and a former mayor of the City of Davis. She is also a UC Davis alumna who was awarded the 2012 UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Science Award of Distinction for Outstanding Alumni.

“Our goal was not only to showcase what an incredible market the Davis Farmers Market is, but to help the county become known for its amazing food and agriculture and to honor its local farmers,” Evans said.

The book, which is published by Mirabelle Press, features recipes by both Evans and Brennan. Recipes are organized by season to exhibit the variety of ingredients available at the market throughout the year. According to Evans, an active cook, the recipes are not intended to be complicated or overwhelming.

“They’re designed for people who love good, simple food,” Evans said. “But there are also some recipes for those who are feeling more ambitious.”

The project began about three-and-a-half years ago, when Evans and Brennan began seeing various cookbooks inspired by farmers markets. The Davis Farmers Market is unique, according to Evans, due not only to its scale but because it is one of only a few farmers markets to be held under a permanent structure designed specifically for that purpose.

“We were looking for a new project, and we knew the Davis market was an amazing market,” Evans said. “Georgeanne has written over 30 cookbooks, I have a long history with the market, and we worked with the market for about half a year. We pulled together an amazing team.”

In addition to being co-authors, Evans and Brennan are also business partners at their marketing and consulting firm, Evans & Brennan, LLC. The eight-year-old firm, according to the official Evans & Brennan, LLC website, specializes in food, agriculture and school lunch, with the goal of shortening the distance from farm to table in businesses, hospitals and particularly schools.

“We work with school groups who want to implement a sustainable kitchen,” Evans said. “We want lunches to be a joyous time for children.”

Evans’ involvement with local agriculture began while she was a student at UC Davis living in a vegetarian co-op house downtown.

“We cooked meals together to save money, but there wasn’t really a place to purchase the kinds of foods we ate in bulk,” Evans said. “We started a buying club to purchase products in bulk from local farmers such as cheese and dry goods, but we were all really interested in agriculture, particularly small organic farms. We were interested in creating a market.”

The student buying club evolved into the Davis Food Co-Op, which officially opened in 1976, according to the Davis Food Co-Op website. Evans stayed involved with the Co-Op as a volunteer for about ten years. The Davis Farmers Market, which Evans also co-founded, began in 1976 as well, and the Co-Op helped attract farmers to the market by guaranteeing that they would purchase local farmers’ goods that did not sell at the market.

“It took a long time to organize,” Evans said. “It was very intense, but people were very responsive.”

The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook is available for purchase locally at the Davis Food Co-Op, the Davis Farmers market, the Avid Reader and Ace Hardware. It is also available on Amazon.

Mirabelle Press is running a nationwide Davis Farmers Market Cookbook recipe contest through Dec. 13. Contest entrants must describe in 25 words or less their favorite recipe from the book and why, along with a photo of the dish. Weekly winners will be posted on the book’s website and each winner will win an autographed copy of the book.

According to the cookbook’s website, the public can vote on a grand prize winner among the weekly winners on the website between Dec. 13 and Dec 19. The winner will be announced on Dec. 20 and will receive a seasonal lunch with Evans and Brennan at Osteria Fasulo, in Davis.

MEREDITH STURMER can be reached at city@theaggie.org

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