BRUNSWICK — Winning awards right out the gate for a first book isn’t something a lot of people experience. But this summer, “Green Plate Special” cookbook author and sustainability expert Christine Burns Rudalevige took home the 2017 “Socially Conscious” category prize in Boston’s annual Readable Feast cookbook awards. The book also received an Honorable Mention for Best Cookbook of New England.

“I was actually kind of shocked,” Rudalevige confessed. “I was up against some people I consider mentors, and whose books I have been cooking from for years. I didn’t even write a speech; I just thought, ‘Oh, I’m not going to win.’”

Rudalevige will appear at Curtis Memorial Library on Wednesday, Sept. 27, to talk about how to “Green Your Plate” and other sustainability issues. “Green Plate Special” will be available for sale and signing.

“Sustainability” is a newish buzzword that shouldn’t wear out its welcome any time soon. Reflecting its own definition (the ability to be sustained, or support long-term ecological balance), the word is one that should have a long life ahead, as it’s certainly key to a healthier future for our planet.

Rudalevige, who lives in Brunswick, is a classically trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer. Her work can be found in several cookbooks (as a recipe tester) and in outlets like Cooking Light, Zest,, Whole Foods, Fine Cooking, and Edible Maine.

Over the years, her interest in sustainable food issues led to learning more on the topic, and to write a column, “Green Plate Special,” for the Maine Sunday Telegram. She offers tips and recipes on everything from food waste to green sourcing and cooking. Her columns are collected in the book.

“I grew up eating that way, without calling it that,” she said of her childhood in a small town in the Berkshires. “I had Italian grandmothers who made it through the Depression; we were out picking dandelions and not wasting food. We always ate seasonally. Living in England later, I became aware of the waste-not want-not ideal; food is twice as expensive there. There are also not a lot of preservatives; for example, the bread would go bad if you didn’t use it all quickly.”

When she returned to the U.S., Rudalevige managed a farmers market in Pennsylvania, and after moving to Maine, she co-founded a sustainable seafood oriented cooking blog, and was lead culinary instructor with Stonewall Kitchens.

When Rudalevige’s now-editor at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram approached her about a sustainability column, the idea was that it would have rotating voices. “It was going to be written by rotating staff, but they didn’t have the time, and she asked me to write it. The idea was, and is, that we take some aspect of sustainable eating—whether it’s sourcing, or cooking, or avoiding food and water waste—and then I come up with a recipe to accompany the topic.”

Rudalevige will talk about her own green cooking at the Curtis event, and she invites attendees to bring a family recipe.

“I find most recipes can be rewritten to be more sustainable. That’s what I’m focusing on now, telling folks, bring your favorite recipes and I’ll walk you through them and tell you how to make them more sustainable. You have to go into their arena and prove to people that sustainability does fit into their lives. If they’re using their grandmother’s recipe, you can go right there: Add veggies, cover the pot to preserve heat, use local tomatoes instead of opening a jar.”

Some of it is pretty simple stuff, once it’s pointed out.

Other upcoming events include an appearance at the Bar Harbor Library on Oct. 6; a green cooking class at the University of Maine Regional Learning Center in Falmouth on Oct. 13, sponsored by the AARP (the fee includes a copy of the book), and a tea at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House on Oct. 19.

“Harriet Stowe wrote a book with her sister, who was a home economist, and we’ll take a look at some recipes there and from that general period of time, and what it was like to eat sustainably,” she said.

Surprisingly, the most eye-opening thing for this seasoned writer and foodie in creating her own book was the amount of anxiety that came with the process.

“I was more anxiety-ridden doing this than having my kids,” Rudalevige said. “People won’t tell you your kids aren’t cute, but they will tell you if a recipe doesn’t work. I really don’t think anything prepares you for going through this whole book process.”

With the first book winning two awards, it’s clear she did just fine.

“Green Your Plate” with Christine Rudalevige begins at 6 p.m., Sept. 27, at Curtis Memorial Library. For more information, email Hazel at [email protected].

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