Am I the only one who had never heard of Kinfolk Magazine? Out of Portland, Oregon, it was started by three college graduates as a creative outlet. What started a few years ago as a digital/print monthly publication for the millennial generation about living simply and mindfully, has blossomed into a book – The Kinfolk Table, and a brand – Ouur – for clothing and other products.
If you, too, are unfamiliar with the Kinfolk phenomenon, the magazine was recently written up in a snide article in The New York Times titled “Better Homes and Hipsters.” As a young person way back in the 80s, I found the idea of a back-to-the-earth lifestyle very appealing (more in concept than in actuality, as it turned out), so I don’t feel like sneering at anyone – however young and privileged – who wants to try to live a meaningful life, even in a digital age.
So The Kinfolk Table is a gorgeously designed book centered around meal preparation, food traditions, and sharing meals with family and friends. The book is composed of airy, white space; lovely photography of attractive, interesting people, living quarters, kitchens, and nature; profiles of singles, couples, and families living in a variety of ways; and recipes – a lot of them – all indexed at the end.
The recipes range from the complex to the very simple – such as the one for Morning Melon, quoted here in its entirety:
1 homegrown cantaloupe or muskmelon
On a warm summer morning, pick a melon from your garden, halve it, and scoop out the seeds. Fill it with yogurt (granola, too, if you like) and then drizzle honey over the whole deal. Sit in the sun and eat it with a spoon.
Can’t you just taste that melon?
There are regional sections in The Kinfolk Table (areas that the authors focused on) – Brooklyn, New York; Copenhagen, Denmark; The English Countryside; and Portland, Oregon – and also a section called The Wandering Table. Examples of more complex recipes include Grilled Salmon with Romesco Sauce and Fennel Crudites (from the Copenhagen section) and Pot Roast Shoulder of Veal with Tuna Sauce (English Countryside section). The whole book, including the recipes, is very readable, and is also great for just dipping into here and there. Like a lifestyle magazine, it portrays people experiencing life’s best moments, making some readers wistful and others resentful and annoyed.
The Kinfolk Table is such a heavy, expensively designed book that I’d hesitate to use it in the kitchen as a cookbook. (Maybe that’s just me?) When I made the Citrus Lentil Salad – a recipe from the introduction by authors Nathan & Katie Williams – I left the book (from the library) in a different room and went back and forth to avoid spilling on it.
Here’s the ending of the authors’ introduction to The Kinfolk Table. If it strikes you as naive and/or pretentious, The Kinfolk Table may not be the book for you!
“In each home we visited, the people living there reinforced my belief that ‘entertaining’ has many more shapes and forms than what that term often brings to mind. It can be the most elaborate and boisterous thing in the world, and it can also be quiet, personal, and low-key, a meditative ritual we enjoy on our own. It can be planned, structured, and executed wonderfully, but it can also be last-minute, spontaneous, a team effort, and wonderfully imperfect.
Entertaining looks different for each of us, but as long as we’re cooking and inviting people into our homes with a genuine interest in connecting, conversing, and eating together, then the way we do these things becomes insignificant and ultimately comes naturally. A burned dish or a missing serving piece becomes trivial. The humble soup or homely bread becomes a feast. It all seems quite simple.”
Want more? Here’s a link to a recent interview with author Nathan Williams.
Happy Weekend Cooking!
The Kinfolk Table
Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my public library.