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Cookbooks: Bring It!

I have long believed that when it comes to entertaining, most people can roughly be broken down into two groups. There are potluck people and dinner party people. My friend Cindy is most decidedly a dinner party person. She likes to control the menu and create an experience for her friends. I am more of a potluck person. I love the uncertainty of inviting people to bring with them whatever they’re moved to make.

I have definite opinions of what makes a good potluck dish (ideally something that can be served at room temperature and can be eaten from a plate with a fork). I’m forever curious about the recipes that other people prefer for potlucks and so make a point of checking out new potluck cookbooks whenever one is published.

The latest book on the topic to come to market is Ali Rosen’s Bring It! Ali is the force behind Potluck Video, a video series that you can find online and on NYC Life on Thursday nights.

This book is broken up into seven chapters. It opens with an introductory section that offers tips on How to Bring It. From there, it moves into Hors d’Oeuvres and Dips, Salads, Casseroles/Pastas/Tarts, Meats and Fish, Veggies and Grains, and Desserts.

There’s plenty of appealing food in this book (though I find the photography style a little unsettling. The lighting feels excessively artificial). In addition to the dishes pictured throughout this post, I’ve marked the Grits Casserole (page 106), the Cherry Tomato Tart (page 117), and the Farro with Charred Vegetables (page 188) as things I hope to make.

If you’re someone who attends regular potlucks and needs new inspiration, this book will certainly be of use!

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Cookbooks: Eating From the Ground Up

I the kind of cook who tucks vegetables into nearly everything I cook. My turkey chili always includes wilted Swiss chard. I prefer my eggs perched on a bed of sauteed spinach or zucchini. And if I’m making a sandwich, I pile it high with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and ribbons of carrot. This habit of mine doesn’t always thrill my husband (he grew up with a mother who was less of a produce pusher than mine), but after 10+ years together, he’s gotten used to it.

All that said, I confess to having a somewhat limited repertoire of vegetable dishes. I rotate through steaming, roasting, and sauting most things. This gets the job done, but can lead to a certain weariness. However, recently my vegetable cookery has received a much-needed shot in the arm.

This is all thanks to Alana Chernila’s gorgeous new book, Eating From the Ground Up. Many of you might be familiar with Alana’s previous books, The Homemade Pantry and The Homemade Kitchen, as well as her blog (it shares a name with this new book).

What I love about this book is that it tackles vegetables from a number of different directions, all with delicious results. The book opens with a section entitled Barely Recipes. These are ideal for busy weeknights, when you need to get dinner on the table and value speed and flavor.

After that, you’ll find A Pot of Soup (filling and deeply savory), Too Hot to Cook (perfect for deep summer, when it doesn’t take much to make a flavorful meal), Warmth and Comfort (many of these make a main dish out of veg), and the final chapter, Celebrations and Other Excuses to Eat With Your Hands (with a title like that, it needs no additional description).

This book should be on your shelf if you keep a backyard garden, shop farmers markets, subscribe to a CSA share, or simply love vegetables. It’s one that I know I’ll turn to again and again.

Thanks to Clarkson Potter, I have a copy of this lovely book to giveaway this week. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book and the giveaway copy at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided and all opinions are entirely my own.

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Links: Stewed Rhubarb, Wilted Greens Pesto, and Winners

By the time you read this, Scott and I will be on a plane to Ireland! We’re heading off on a bit of vacation and I could not be more excited for the break from real life. I have some posts scheduled to run while I’m away and I’ll be dropping in now and then with some pictures from our travels. Additionally, thanks to the purchase of Irish SIM cards, I’ll be sharing snippets on Instagram (both in my feed and the Stories), so make sure to follow if you want to see some of our adventures. Now, links!

  • Because we’re having a long, cold spring, local rhubarb hasn’t appeared in any stores or markets yet. But I know it’s coming. When it does, I will make some of this gorgeous braised rhubarb.
  • Creamy date caramel. I’m making a “date” with this one as soon as I get back from my trip.
  • Wilted greens pesto. Deliciously preventing food waste is the best.
  • Nothing helps unify leftovers and make them feel like a fresh meal than a tasty sauce. This trio of sauces would all make your refrigerator proud.
  • Add some pickled red onions or tomato jam to this savory Dutch baby and I’m all in.
  • In anticipation of Ashley English’s new book (Southern from Scratch!), you should make a batch of her pickled eggs.
  • Wild garlic soda bread. I bet you could make this with ramps or even scallion greens to similar effect.

Last week, I ran a giveaway of silicone jar sleeves from Mason Jar Lifestyle. The winners on the blog are Annie Wyatt and Kelly Kerr. The Instagram winner is #1129/Meg Myers. Congratulations!

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Giveaway: Silicone Sleeves from Mason Jar Lifestyle

Mason jars serve play many roles in my life. Of course, I use them for canning. But I also put them to work holding pantry staples, vinaigrettes and sauces, leftovers, and a wide array of drinks. I often brew loose leaf tea in a quart jar and when the weather gets warmer, a Pint & Half jar filled with ice coffee is my vessel and beverage of choice.

The one problem with using mason jars as drinking glass/travel mug is the breakability factor. Happily, thanks to the folks at Mason Jar Lifestyle, I now have a collection of silicone sleeve for every size jar possible. They help cushion my jars, they serve as a heatproof barrier when I fill a jar with coffee or tea, and they prevent the jars from sweating when I use them for cold drinks. All in all, it’s a really awesome accessory.

Mason Jar Lifestyle make silicone sleeves that fit quarter pints (so adorable!), wide mouth half pints (these are great for those times when you use your jars to pack snacks), regular mouth half pints, pint jars (both regular and wide mouth), my beloved Pint & Half jars, and even for quart jars. They also come in an array of fun colors.

All the larger sleeves have small holes in the bottom, to make it easier to slide the sleeves on and off the jars (the little ones don’t, but they’re still pretty easy to put on and then remove for cleaning). My sister has a stash of these sleeves that she keeps on a set of regular mouth half pints for her kids, and she leaves them on the jars and runs them through the dishwasher with the sleeves in place.

I like to pair these silicone sleeves with a drink topper and a glass straw when I’m sitting at my desk, to prevent messes and potential spills.

This week, I’m giving away two full sets of silicone sleeves here on the blog and another set over on Instagram. Make sure to enter in both places to increase your chances of winning!

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April Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, Mason Jar Lifestyle, and CanningCrafts

Happy April, dear readers! It’s the start of the month and that means that it’s time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention!  

In the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creators of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. There’s nothing better for iced coffee season (hopefully soon!) than a Pint & Half jar with a wide mouth Cuppow.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. We’re planning some fun collaborations for later this month, so stay tuned for that!

Our friends over at EcoJarz are another stalwart sponsor. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. If you’re looking to get into fermentation this spring, their fermenting kit is a useful and affordable option!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lidsstrawssprouting lidsfermentation weightsairlockstea light converterscozies, they are there for you. Look for a fun giveaway from them later today!

Next up is CanningCrafts. Shop owner Alison sells an array of ready made and custom mason jar labels for all your various preserves, syrups, and backyard honey. Make sure to subscribe to the CanningCrafts newsletter, because you’ll get a 10% off coupon code!

And if your company, shop, or family business is interested in reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

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Links: Rhubarb Compote and Homemade Harissa

Happy April, friends! Happy Easter and Passover, as well! I hope you’ve all had lovely weekends, filled with family and celebratory meals. I’ve spent most of the weekend with my extended family, first on Saturday night for our annual Seder and then today for brunch and an extended hang out at my cousin Angie’s house.

Angie is starting the process of cleaning out after 50 years in her home, and so none of us left empty-handed. Scott and I came home with a terracotta fish baker that once belonged to my Aunt Doris, and a five branch candelabra that was originally part of the decoration in the Russian tea room that my family ran in Philadelphia many years ago. We’re all set if the power goes out!

I’m really sorry that it’s been so quiet around here lately. After nine years of writing here, my creative well seems to be running a little dry. I’m hoping that the return of warmer days will help me regain my footing. In the meantime, I’ve got some links for you!

  • I’ve yet to spot any rhubarb around these parts, but when I do, I’m sure to make some of this hot pink rhubarb compote.
  •  While we wait for spring produce, there’s always candied grapefruit peel!
  • My food processor makes a terrible noise when I ask it to make almond butter, but with the help of earplugs, it does turn into the most gorgeous, spreadable paste.
  • I love Alexandra Stafford’s Instagram Stories because she’s always making the most wonderful dishes. I’ve been particularly jealous about her homemade harissa and overnight focaccia lately.
  • It has nothing to do with canning or preserving, but doesn’t this vegan alfredo sauce look good?!
  • This olive oil cake speaks to me.
  • I love the idea of building a zero waste grocery kit. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I do try to think through my list and determine what bags and containers I can bring with me to reduce the amount of packaging I consume, but this takes it a step further!

Also, a reminder! I’ve restarted my Facebook Live series. This month, I’ll be doing a live stream demo on Monday, April 2 at 9 pm eastern (6 pm pacific). I’m going to make a batch of the Strawberry Cocoa Jam from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars (if you have the book, you can follow along!). Just head over to the Food in Jars Facebook page to join the fun!

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