Indiana University Press, $29.95
Daniel Orr is a master chef and successful restaurateur (FARMbloomington), who has practiced his art and craft in kitchens in many parts of the world. He also has an admirable sense of Midwestern place, informed by a genuine appreciation for our landscape, the seasons and, most especially, the kinds of food grown and raised here. Would that he had an editor to help him figure out the appropriate audience and strategy for this handsome but unfocused and self-indulgent collection of recipes, photographs, personal anecdotes and advice about green living. On the one hand, Chef Orr has things to tell readers that seem aimed at rank beginners, like how to feed wild birds or find one's way to a farmers' market. But his recipes, while truly scrumptious-sounding, are, by and large, dauntingly complex. The design, which takes a colorful, but over-crowded approach, is more exhausting than helpful. In the end, this is a pretty book to look at, a wearying book to read and a book that seems destined more for the coffee table than the kitchen.