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Review: Good Veg by Alice Hart

brightly colored pink and yellow sliced vegetables and scattered green herbs on a white backgroundLinking up with Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.

Brighton-based Alice Hart presents a hefty volume of vegetarian recipes designed to let simple ingredients shine. The full title, Good Veg: Ebullient Vegetables, Global Flavors – a Modern Vegetarian Cookbook, though a mouthful, captures the contents well. As she says, “predominantly this is a book to celebrate fresh vegetables.”

Hart’s sprightly, convivial introduction lays out her relaxed food philosophy.  That laid-back  spirit is evident in many of her recipe notes as she encourages improvisation and substitution when needed. Refreshingly she understands not everyone lives near a gourmet market or ethnic grocery. Many of Hart’s recipes have an international scope with more than a Continue reading

Repost: The Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell

Well, the dreaded cold came for me after all! So on this St. Patrick’s Day (after a week of sneezing, coughing, sleeping, and not much else) I am reposting this review from exactly one year ago of the delightful “Farmette Cookbook!”

Linking up with Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.

Farmettepublished March 8, 2016
Roost Books

Happy St. Patrick’s day! By coincidence I have today a cookbook written by an American big city career girl-turned Irish farm wife.

You would think with the word “whisk” in the title of this blog I would talk more about cooking and cookbooks. I should. I have cookbooks stashed all over the house, recipe cards stuffed into file boxes and piled on the counter, and when I can’t decide what to read, I pull out a cookbook and start reading that. This is just the kind of cookbook I would grab on an “I don’t know what to read now” day.

First, I could go on and on about how beautiful the publisher Roost’s books are. It doesn’t matter if the topic is crafts, food, or sheep farming they are beautifully made books that beg to be handled and admired. (This will come up every time I review a Roost book. Just saying.) The photographs in Farmette, most by the author herself, are stunning and do what good food photography should do – they make you want to head into the kitchen and start cooking. Continue reading

Kitchen Library #2: Booklets and Bookmarks

open card catalog drawerBuying an old cookbook – one that has been used – usually means you are buying an altered book. Marginalia, mini-reviews (“good!” or “Do not make again” or “Dad’s favorite,”) and extra recipes scribbled on the endpapers, are common. It is easy to spot the well-loved recipes because those pages bear stains and splashes, along with penciled-in modified quantities and cooking times.

The best extras flutter from the pages when you shake a new-old cookbook. Recipe booklets, newspaper tear-outs, shopping lists, and recipe cards are frequent fellow travelers in an old well-loved cookbook sent on to the book sale.

I’m guilty of marking my place with the same kinds of ephemera. Someday I suppose someone will find the Guinness Pork Chop recipe I printed off a website in 1997 and stashed in a cookbook. (I really did find this in my “American Woman” cookbook while I was gathering items for this post. I remember searching my recipe box over and over years ago for that damn paper and finally giving up and copying it onto a card from the website.)

One of my favorite serendipitous finds is the Heinz Soup Cookery booklet. I have never made a thing out of it I just love the illustrations. Look how happy the cover chef is with all her soup cans! Dinner in a snap! This 45-page booklet is from around 1955. I know this because Michigan State University has a fantastic collection of these little company-sponsored recipe booklets. I was able to find a number of mine right on their site. It’s a fascinating collection and most of the full booklets are digitized.

Little Cookbooks: The Alan and Shirley Brocker Sliker Culinary Collection at MSU Libraries

This “Soup Cookery” book covers all aspects of meal planning from appetizer to salad to bread to dessert – for instance, the Coral Spice Cake made with – you guessed it – tomato soup. Do you prefer candy to cake? Spice drops can also be made with tomato soup.

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Kitchen Library: The Boston Cooking School Cookbook

Even if you have shelves of cookbooks there is one that you reach for first. One that among the stacks of recipe cards, magazine pull-outs, and Pinterest boards is a stalwart you turn to for roasting times, béchamel, or icing. Mine is The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer.

My mother used an edition from the 1940s that was her mother’s. She loved it so much that when the family dog, who had good taste in cookbooks, chewed the cover (along with a few others – the cookbooks moved much higher on the shelf after that incident) my father had it restored. When I moved out she found me my own copy, a 1937 edition. I later added a second 1924 edition, found at an antique mall.

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Review: Packed by Becky Alexander & Michelle Lake

Packed book cover

At least five days a week I eat lunch outside my home, and most of the time it is a lunch I have brought from home. I’m spoiled – our break room has a microwave, a toaster oven, and a full-size fridge. I don’t need anything elaborate but I can’t just throw a sandwich and chips into a bag and call it lunch.

Not many cookbooks are dedicated to the adult lunch. “Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients in Your Day” by British food writer Becky Alexander and nutritionist Michelle Lake, fills that niche with ideas for meals and snacks that will travel well and will fortify you for the second half of your workday.

Continue reading

Review: The Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell

Farmettepublished March 8, 2016
Roost Books

Happy St. Patrick’s day! By coincidence I have today a cookbook written by an American big city career girl-turned Irish farm wife.

You would think with the word “whisk” in the title of this blog I would talk more about cooking and cookbooks. I should. I have cookbooks stashed all over the house, recipe cards stuffed into file boxes and piled on the counter, and when I can’t decide what to read, I pull out a cookbook and start reading that. This is just the kind of cookbook I would grab on an “I don’t know what to read now” day.

First, I could go on and on about how beautiful the publisher Roost’s books are. It doesn’t matter if the topic is crafts, food, or sheep farming they are beautifully made books that beg to be handled and admired. (This will come up every time I review a Roost book. Just saying.) The photographs in Farmette, most by the author herself, are stunning and do what good food photography should do – they make you want to head into the kitchen and start cooking. Continue reading