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It is rare that a cookbook takes my breath away, rarer still that I feel inspired and compelled by its recipes. Yet that is exactly my response to a new book that landed on my desk a few weeks ago.

"Kenvin: An Artist's Kitchen," subtitled "Food, Art & Wisdom of a Bohemian Cowboy" (Gibbs Smith, 2013), was twelve years in the making and, sadly, was not published until after the death of its author, Kenvin Lyman, in 2011. It is a work of beauty on every level, from its appearance to its recipes and writing.

Lyman, also known as "The Utah Kid," was a visual artist, designer, early computer artist, singer-songwriter, gardener, farmer and so much more. For his book, he developed a font based on his own handwriting and created dozens of paintings. When the book first arrived, I tried to determine the medium used to create the paintings but couldn't. Some reminded me of early color Xerox art, others suggested oil or acrylic paint. As it turns out, all were created on a computer and the results are stunning.

The book is earthy and authentic, with roots deep in the Utah soil where Lyman was raised and where he developed an organic farm when he couldn't find the foods he wanted in Salt Lake City, where he lived. It opens with a chapter on butter, with a recipe and photographs showing his mother's technique for making it at home. At its core, the book is about living and eating close to the land, with a focused simplicity that so many people are struggling to achieve today. For Lyman, it was entirely natural and unforced.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It will appeal equally to wannabe cowboys, anyone who loves to hunt, anyone who can appreciate a delicate edible-flower broth, anyone who wants another reason to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of a shared meal around a common table. Buy yourself one and buy a second or third copy for someone or someones you love. You'll all be the better for it.


This soup, Kenvin Lyman writes in his book, is hearty and meaty, a quality imparted by the combination of chicken and leeks. He recommends using Pavel's yogurt, which is a great choice if you don't have access to our local yogurts. I use whole-milk yogurt from Straus Family Creamery because that is the one I always have on hand. This makes an excellent dinner on a cold weekday night, especially if you make the soup the day before so that there is little to do except reheat it.

<b>Chicken, Lemon and Leek Soup with Yogurt</b>

<i>Makes 8 to 12 servings

1 roasting chicken, 4 to 5 pounds, with giblets

2 medium garlic cloves

3 large leeks, white and green parts, split lengthwise, washed and cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Kosher salt

2 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained, to taste

Whole-milk yogurt, for garnish

Hearth bread</i>

Wash the chicken and place it in a large stockpot with the giblets. Cover with water. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Do not allow the broth to boil or it will become cloudy. Lower the heat to medium-low. Skim off the foamy residue that forms on top several times until it subsides. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer about 1 hour more. At this point add the garlic and continue simmering until the meat is about to fall off the bone (15 to 30 minutes more). Turn off the heat and let the chicken cool slightly. Carefully lift the chicken out of the pot by inserting a wooden spoon into the tail-end cavity and steady it with a spatula or tongs. Place chicken in a large bowl. If the chicken falls apart, remove it in pieces with a large slotted spoon. After it has cooled some, cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent the chicken from drying out. Let it cool until it can be handled comfortably.

Carefully separate the meat from the bones, skin and gristle and cover with plastic wrap. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve to remove any solids. Save any good scraps of meat and all the giblets. Cut the breast meat into 2-inch long crosscuts at a sharp angle, to resemble the leeks. Cut the tough skin from the gizzard and discard. Chop the remaining gizzard. Strip the meat from the neck, chop it and reserve. Discard the neck bones. Chop the liver into small pieces. Chop the heart into 3 or 4 pieces. Add all the chopped giblet meat to the reserved chicken meat and cover.

Bring the strained broth to a simmer in a large stockpot. Add the leeks. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, and cook until the leeks are barely tender, about 20 minutes. Add the reserve meat. Crush the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a little lemon juice with a mortar and pestle. Add the remainder of the lemon juice to the crushed zest in the mortar. Stir together and add to the soup. Lightly season with salt. Taste the soup and if you want it to be more lemony, add the crushed zest and strained juice of another lemon. If possible, allow the flavors to further develop by placing the cooled soup, covered, in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

To serve, heat the bread and gently reheat the soup, taste and correct for salt. Serve it quite warm, ladled into soup bowls, topped with a generous dollop of yogurt and the hot hearth bread alongside.


Throughout "Kenvin's Kitchen," Lyman employs the technique of adding a few ingredients from a salad into the salad's dressing, a step I find brilliant. This salad is lovely at this time of year, using whatever apples are in season. He made his with Granny Smith.

<b>Slivered Celery, Apple, Celeriac and Sweet Onion</b>

<i>Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 or 3 hearts of celery, trimmed (see Note below)

1 sweet-tart apple

? sweet onion, cut into very thin rounds

2 small celery leaves, minced

2 tablespoons grated celeriac (celery root)

2 tablespoons peeled, sliced and minced apple

2 tablespoons minced shallot

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Black peppercorns in a mill

Celery leaves, for garnish</i>

Use a very sharp knife to cut the celery into very thin lengthwise slices.

Peel and core the apple and slice into very thin lengthwise slices.

Put the celery, the apple and the onion into a salad bowl and set aside briefly.

Put the celery leaves, celeriac, apple, shallots and a generous pinch of salt into a mortar and crush into a paste. Add the vinegar and whisk well so that the salt dissolves. Whisk in the olive oil to make a smooth emulsion. Taste and correct for salt.

Pour the dressing over the celery, apple and onion and toss gently but thoroughly.

Divide among individual salad plates or bowls, season with black pepper, garnish with celery leaves and serve.

Note: Use very young celery for this or just the innermost stalks and small leaves, typically called the heart, with the root end trimmed.

<i>Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. Email Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.</i>

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