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Taking Preserving by the Pint to Chicago!

RTM food swap

It seems like this week has been all about event announcements here on the old blog, but I’m going to be out and about like crazy this month and just want to make sure that you all have a chance to come see me if I’m in your neck of the woods.

After I get back from my trip through a handful of Southern states, I’m dashing off to the Chicago area for a four day stint. I’m teaching classes, doing demos, giving talks, and signing as many books as I possibly can. Here’s where I’ll be.

  • April 25 – Highwood, IL: Luncheon and book signing, Highwood Bocce Courts. Event costs $36, which includes lunch and a copy of the new book. 11:30 am to 1 pm. Click here to for more details and to register.
  • April 26 – Chicago Suburbs:
    8:30-10:15 am - Book signing and tasting at the Sunset Foods’ Booth at Northbrook’s Earth Day Celebration in the Village Green (at Meadow & Walters).
    11 am – 1 pm - Demo and signing at the Warren Newport Library in Gurnee, IL. Click here to sign up.
  • April 27 – Long Grove, IL: Canning class at the Sunset Food’s Long Grove Cooking Studio from 1:30-4 pm. Cost is $80 per station or $95 per 2-person station. Call (847) 810-0484 to sign up.
  • April 28 – Winnetka, IL: Demo and signing at the Winnetka-Northfield Library, 2-4 pm. Details here.
  • April 28 – Evanston, IL: Canning class with Mighty Nest. More details to come soon.
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Cookbooks: Power Hungry

Power Hungry cover - Food in Jars

These days, my brain is entirely occupied by thoughts of my upcoming book tour. Next Friday, I head to Boston for a weekend of demos and book signings at the Eat Boutique Pop-Up Market. Soon after that, I’m road tripping my way through Charlottesville, Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Memphis.

I have page after page of to-do lists in my notebook, covering topics like demo supplies, book sourcing, day-to-day logistics, and even road snacks (because while I’ll have a back seat full of pickles and jam, preserves do not a filling meal make).

Power Hungry title spread - Food in Jars

Happily, thanks to Camille V. Saulsbury and her book Power Hungry my car snacks are in good hands. Released last fall, this book features recipes for granola bars, energy balls, and super healthy brownies that are the perfect thing to reach for when you’re driving from one state to another.

The book opens with an introduction to the pantry staples used in the recipes. From there Camilla moves into the section she calls “Super Natural Knock Offs.” If you have a favorite store bought bar, look here first, because chances are good that you’ll find a recipe that will get you something perfectly similar here.

Power Hungry Friend Bars - Food in Jars

From there, you move through chapters for Activity Bars (these are original recipes that are bursting with flavor to get you through a workout or a busy day), Endurance Bars (these are higher in protein and fat, for even more energy), Protein Bars (they get their protein from beans, or from whey or vegan protein powders), and Raw and Almost Raw Bars (these are the easiest bars in the book, because you just combine ingredients and pack them into shape).

So far, my favorite recipe in the book is the one for Friend Bars. They’re Camilla’s version of Kind Bars and the coconut almond variation has helped me kick my habit of picking up three or four at Trader Joe’s each time I grocery shop.

Power Hungry back - Food in Jars

This week, one of the things on the ever-lengthening to-do list is to make a couple batches of these bars, wrap them individually and stash them in the freezer. I’ll grab a few for next weekend’s trip and even more when I head south.

I’m so looking forward to the fact that I won’t be dependent on expensive store bought bars for all this upcoming travel. What’s more, there’s really nothing better than having something homemade when I’m on the road. It becomes an edible touchstone for home and the life I’m so happy to lead.

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Cookbooks: Metropolitan Bakery 20 For 20

Metro bakery cookbooks

One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is the Metropolitan Bakery. They bake the most glorious breads and pastries (I’m a fool for their millet muffins and fennel soft pretzels), have a refrigerator case stocked with free range eggs, local dairy products, and produce, and serve as a pick-up location for a number of area CSA shares. I’m in there at least once a week (if not more).

focaccia

In 2003 after ten years in business, they published a really nice cookbook that featured a number of their greatest hits from the bakery, including those millet muffins (I wrote about them back in the first year of this site). Amazon has a number of used copies, or you can get a shiny new one directly from Metropolitan.

Panna Cotta

Recently, Metropolitan opened up a cafe next door to their Rittenhouse bakery that serves an array of sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee drinks, and desserts. In concert with that opening, they’ve put out a new collection of recipes. Called Metropolitan Bakery 20 For 20 (that means 20 new recipes for their 20th anniversary), it features recipes from the new cafe as well as a handful from the bakery.

Homemade Cream Cheese

The book has the feel of a high end quarterly magazine and is gorgeously photographed and designed. The recipe selection is eclectic and features such things as fermented dill pickles, bay leaf panna cotta with candied kumquats, homemade cream cheese, and pink peppercorn shortbread. Oh, and if you do get your hands on a copy of this book, don’t miss the salted chocolate cherry cookies in the very back. They are one of my very favorite things.

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Cookbooks: Baking Sourdough Bread

Baking Sourdough Bread cover

I acquired my sourdough starter just over two years ago. I was moved to get myself a bit of natural yeast thanks a cooking challenge laid down by Tara Austen Weaver on her blog, Tea and Cookies. I’d always been interested in learning more about how bread baking worked the old fashioned way and it seemed like just the opportunity to give it a shot.

The Mystical Sourdough

A friend gave me a bit of her starter and I began to feed it and bake with it. Thing was, I never quite got the hang of sourdough. I baked a couple successful loaves and made some good waffles, but had more clunkers than successes. I obsessively read blog posts and recipes from other bakers and it still never entirely clicked for me.

I had a vague inkling that my desire to add as much whole grain flours as possible caused some of my issues and that success would come with more practice. Sadly instead of persevering, I tucked some of the starter away in the fridge and just pull it out occasionally for a quick feeding to ensure it doesn’t die.

Oats, Potatoes, & Lentils

Happily, a new book landed in my mailbox recently that has given me hope that I am not destined to be a sourdough loser for all time. Baking Sourdough Bread has a number of recipes for breads, buns, and crackers that are clear and prescribed. This is not a book that waxes poetic about the beauty of sourdough. It spells out a simple recipe and tells you to get to work. It also includes a number of recipes that utilize sweets, treats, and whole grains, which pleases me.

Sourdough back

If you’ve been similarly perplexed by sourdough baking and need something a little more basic than Tartine Bread, this book is refreshingly straight forward. I am happy to add it to my bookshelf.

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Cookbooks: Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits

Homemade Liqueurs

Despite the fact that I don’t drink a whole lot, I love making little batches of infused booze. They make really great gifts and are always hugely popular at food swaps. My repertoire is fairly narrow, most years featuring just cherry bounce, rhubarb liqueur, and honey sweetened limoncello.

tools for infusing

This season, it’s going to be different. Thanks to Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss, I plan on significantly upping my game. The book includes both a vast amount of interesting flavored concoctions as well a goodly number of recipes to help you use them up.

Elderflower Blush

The book breaks down into three main sections. The first is all the information you need to get started. Next comes the recipes, which are divided into fruits, vegetables, herbs & spices, nuts & seeds, florals, beverages & chocolate, creamy sippers, caramel & butterscotch, and finally infused syrups. Truly, there’s something here for every possible boozy situation.

Homemade Liqueurs back

The thing that I find most useful in this book is that if a recipe is designed to mimic the flavor of a commercial liqueur, that detail is indicated prominently under the recipe name. That way, if you long to make your own Frangelico, just turn to page 138 and start a batch of Toasted Hazelnut. It’s a good way to start playing around if you make liqueurs that can replace what you typically keep in your liquor cabinet.

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Cookbooks: Whole Grain Mornings

Whole Grain Mornings cover

For weeks now, Whole-Grain Mornings has been sitting at the very top of my cookbook stack. I have read it cover to cover, been charmed by its friendly voice, and have even cooked several recipes from its pages (it is a sure sign that I’m in cookbook love if I manage to make more than one thing from it).

It is a book that embodies how I like to cook and eat and I have a feeling that it will appeal to a whole heck of a lot of you as well.

Whole Grain Mornings spine

Written by Megan Gordon (she blogs at A Sweet Spoonful, is a regular contributor to The Kitchn, and is the owner and head baker of Marge Granola), this volume contains recipes designed for the morning (though truly, many of them would also work perfectly well as a lunch, dinner, or snack).

WGM pantry section

The book breaks down into seven sections. Megan starts things off by sharing a little bit of her own story and how life led her to a career in writing and granola making. Then comes a section devoted to the pantry staples that will help you make these recipes, what exactly it means when you see the words “whole grain,” and even how best to store them.

Next is a section called the basics which offers up staple recipes for homemade yogurt, Megan’s very best oatmeal technique, a whole grain pancake mix, infused honeys, and a nut milk how-to.

Honeyed Tangerine and Lemon Marmalade

After that, we get into seasonal sections (this is a good two-thirds of the book). Each of these sections is carefully balanced to include recipes that are good for busy weekdays, some that are perfect to serve friends at brunch, others for slow sundays, and finally some spreads and toppings to enhance the other recipes.

January 23

So far, my very favorite thing from Whole Grain Mornings is the recipe for the Vanilla and Cream Steel-Cut Oats. I’ve long been a fan of steel cut oats and back in my days as an office worker, would regularly make up a big batch on Sunday nights to portion out and eat for breakfast throughout the week.

steel cut oats porridge

However, the way I made them in those days was incredibly bland and more about workday survival than flavor and satisfaction. If I’d known to toast my oats in a bit of butter, cook them with some milk added to the water, and finish them with a handful of golden raisins, I’d have enjoyed those breakfasts a good deal more.

The bottom line on this book is that I am enjoying it a great deal and I have a hunch that you would too!

 

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