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My Other Favorite Cookbooks from 2014

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks | Food in Jars

Last month, I wrote about all the terrific canning, preserving, fermenting, and food books that had come out in the last year. In that post, I mentioned that I also had plans to write another post dedicated to all the other 2014 cookbooks that I had known and loved. Today is that day and here is that list.

Please know that this is an imperfect collection, gathered from the piles of books around my desk. Some I bought, some were sent to me by publishers. I am absolutely certain that were a number of excellent books that came out in 2014 that I somehow missed. But these were books I particularly enjoyed and think you might too.

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 1 | Food in Jars

On the very top of the stack is Fully Belly. Written by my dear friend Tara Matazara Desmond (while she was pregnant with her twins), this book takes all the nutritional advice often given to pregnant women and translates it into usable, delicious recipes. Next time you hear that a friend is expecting, buy a copy of this book for them. (Amazon | Powell’s)

For those in search of healthy, flavorful food, look no further than Molly Watson’s Greens + Grains. You’ll find soups, salads, a few breads (green whole wheat flatbread!), and main dishes appropriate for every season. The recipes are wholesome, hearty, and were written by someone who has no time for nonsense and just loves food (Molly’s a friend, too). (Amazon | Powell’s)

A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson (and Jess Thomson) has gotten a lot of love lately and it is all well-deserved. It’s a beautiful book, full of stories, beautiful pictures, and the most stunning recipes. There are even a few perfect preserves, including a Pickled Fresh Plum Jam that I will be making when summer comes. (Amazon | Powell’s)

One-Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucero is a kick. It shows you how to make 16 different kinds of cheese (with plenty of step-by-step pictures), all in no more than an hour. She also includes recipes that include your fresh cheeses. No book has demystified home dairy more. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Vegetarian for a New Generation is the third book in Liana Krissoff’s “New Generation” series (previous installments dealt with canning and whole grains). For those (like me!) who adore Liana’s writing and clever flavor combinations, this book will not disappoint. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I met Kimberley Hasselbrink in early 2012 at a book party in New York. In the course of our conversation, she told me about the book she wanted to write. It went from glimmer to reality and Vibrant Food even better than the vision she described. The food is clean but not precious, and the photos make me want to live in her world. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 2 | Food in Jars

The only cookbook I sat down and read cover to cover in a single sitting last year was The B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery Cookbook. Written by grocery store founder Alexe van Beuren, it is a gorgeous book and a compelling story. Oh, and the recipes are pretty darn good, too. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Part cookbook and part travelogue, In Her Kitchen features grandmothers from around the world, in their kitchens, making their signature dishes. Written and photographed by Gabriele Galimberti, it’s a lovely way to get see food and home kitchens from every corner of the globe. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Flourless by Nicole Spiridakis is focused on gorgeous baked goods and desserts that all just happen to be gluten-free. What makes it particularly special is that she has managed to make every recipe feel like a treat instead of a sacrifice.  (Amazon | Powell’s)

I love everything that Jennifer McLagan writes, and Bitter is no exception. It celebrates foods like coffee, dandelion greens, orange zest, and even burnt toast to appealing effect. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I like a big, beautiful cookbook as much as the next girl, but when it comes daily cooking, there is no better handbook than Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: The Playbook. It bills itself as a guide to the family meal, but it’s got plenty to offer for even the smallest household. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Much like the original Flavor Bible, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page is an incredible resource for home cooks. Every conceivable veg friendly food has an entry that offers a tremendous amount of detail. You’ll get its season, basic flavor profile, best techniques for prepping/cooking, relatives, and suggested flavors that would pair well. If you subscribe to a CSA or farm share and occasionally find yourself with new and unknown edibles, this book is invaluable. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Favorite 2014 Cookbooks Part 3 | Food in Jars

Nigel Slater is a master at writing about food and cooking in a way that is both inspirational and entirely approachable. His new book Eat offers up hundreds of simple recipes and ideas for quick, solid meals, with all his trademark appeal. Plus, the book just feels good in the hands. (Amazon | Powell’s)

As someone who has long played around with oat, teff, and millet flour, I’ve been totally delighted by the recent cluster of books dedicated with making the most from flours made from grains other than wheat. Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours is a new entry in this category and it’s just wonderful.  (Amazon | Powell’s)

Okay, so Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman didn’t actually come out in 2014. It was among the group of books that came out in the very last days of 2013 and I included it in this stack because I don’t think it got enough love last year. This is a glorious baking book for fall and winter, which is actually the time of year when you want to be running your oven. (Amazon | Powell’s)

If you live in the New York region, you’ve probably heard of Red Jacket Orchards. Owner Brian Nicholson teamed up with author Sarah Huck and created this gorgeous, seasonal cookbook called Fruitful. I like it because it includes some interesting preserves, but you’ll also find fruit-focused savory dishes, sides, and desserts. (Amazon | Powell’s)

We eat a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and cauliflower in my household, and I am always on the lookout for novel ways to prepare all this cruciferous veg. Enter Laura B. Russell’s Brassicas. It’s got gorgeous, moody photography and more than 75 recipes for making the most of stalks, florets, leaves, and stems. (Amazon | Powell’s)

I dedicated a blog post to Megan Gordon’s Whole Grain Mornings last February, so I will be brief. It’s a beautiful, approachable book that will have you downright excited to get up in the morning an make a meal. I’ve continued to use it and love pulling it off the shelf with each change of season. (Amazon | Powell’s)

Last book on the stack is Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings. This is a book-length love note to the art of entertaining casually and inclusively. If you’re looking to up your dinner party and potluck game, you will so enjoy it. (Amazon | Powell’s)

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Giveaway: Fresh & Fermented

Fresh & Fermented cover | Food in Jars

Over the last year or so, I’ve been getting more and more into making my own fermented foods. I’ve dabbled in sauerkraut for years, but more recently have added kimchi, kombucha, brined radishes, and other little batches of brined vegetables to my repertory.

One of the things that has been encouraging me along this path has been the wave of new books devoted to fermentation (as well as Amanda’s fabulous blog, Phickle).

Fresh & Fermented spine | Food in Jars

One such book that has been providing much inspiration in recent days has been Fresh & Fermented by Julie O’Brien and Richard J. Climenhage of Firefly Kitchens (I mentioned this one in my Class of 2014 round-up, but thought it deserved a little more attention).

What makes this book stand apart is that it’s not just about basic ferments. It focuses on drinks, dips, salads, casseroles, burgers, and desserts all made with a goodly portion of one of the eight basic krauts and kimchis featured in the first chapter. As someone who is always looking for ways to use up a cup or two of sauerkraut, it is proving invaluable.

Thanks to the nice folks at Sasquatch Books, I have a copy of Fresh & Fermented to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post. This time, I’m curious to hear if you made any preserving-related resolutions this year.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, January 10, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, January 11, 2015.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Sasquatch Books sent me the review copy of this book I now have in my library and they are also providing the giveaway unit. However, my thoughts remain my own. It’s a good book. I think you’ll like it. 

The 2014 Class of Preserving and DIY Books

stack of 2014 preserving books high res

A couple weeks ago, I gave away a short stack of preserving books and promised that I’d be back soon with a more comprehensive list of this year’s canning, pickling, and DIY books. Today is the day for that post and as I went through my bookshelves to pull the various volumes, I was reminded that this has been an incredible year for books in this category.

This year’s list features 20 books, some of which I’ve written about previously and others that haven’t gotten any blog love as of yet. Some I bought, and some came to me as review copies (and honestly, at this point I really don’t remember which is which). For each book, you’ll see that I link to both Amazon and Powell’s (because my liberal guilt is such that I can’t only offer a corporate behemoth option). The Amazon links are affiliate ones, the Powell’s links are not.

2014 preserving books 1

  • On the top of the stack is Hugh Acheson’s funny little book, Pick a Pickle. The recipes are good and interesting, the instructions for sealing jars are not (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Next up is Leda Meredith’s book Preserving Everything. Leda is a wild edibles expert and has created an exceptionally comprehensive book that offers instruction on canning, fermenting, pickling, freezing, and more. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • The Put ‘em Up! Preserving Answer Book came out this spring and is final volume in Sherri Brooks Vinton’s excellent canning trilogy. It has a tremendous amount of detail and would make an excellent gift for a nervous new canner.(Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Quench, Ashley English’s seventh book, came out this fall and opened up a new world of homemade beverage possibilities. It runs the spectrum of soft and hard drinks, and includes a guest recipe from me!(Amazon | Powell’s)
  • If you were to judge a book by it’s cover, you might skip Andrea Weigl’s Pickles & Preserves (at first glance, it seems like a quiet little book). However, that would be a mistake. This slim volume contains fifty classic Southern preserves and should be in every canner’s collection. (Amazon | Powell’s)

2014 preserving books 2

2014 preserving books 3

  • I learned to make shrubs thanks to Michael Dietsch’s 2011 Serious Eats piece on the topic. As far as I’m concerned, he was one of the primary instigators of this trend and knows more about the world of delicious vinegar-spiked syrups than anyone out there. I’ve been eagerly awaiting his book, Shrubs, since hearing he was working on it and am so delighted to have it in hand. It does not disappoint! (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • My sister started drinking kombucha a decade ago. She’d offer me sips and I’d decline with a shudder. However, over the years, I’ve gone from a kombucha hater to someone who makes batches of it at home on a weekly basis. Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman has been a most helpful addition to my brewing flow. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Fresh & Fermented by Julie O’Brien and Richard Climenhage is another book that strives to help you go beyond simply making fermented foods to incorporating them into all manner of recipes. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Kirsten and Christopher Shockey’s Fermented Vegetables is such a great guide to home fermenting. I love the step-by-step pictures, coupled with stories from their lives. The best pickle I made this summer (brined dilly beans!) came from this book. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Asian Pickles is the ideal book for anyone who wants to start expanding their pickle repertory. Written by Karen Solomon, this book wraps its arms around whole continents worth of pickles. (Amazon | Powell’s)

2014 preserving books 4

  • Ivy Manning’s Better from Scratch is a book that hasn’t gotten nearly enough love this year. It contains sweet preserves, savory salsas, a few cured proteins, crackers, and more. It’s a good gift for DIY dabblers who don’t want a single-subject book. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Arranged by month, The Farmer’s Kitchen Handbook by Marie W. Lawrence is bursting with recipes that will help you put up and use up the bounty of the season. Just know that if you need your cookbook to have lots of full page photography, this one isn’t a good fit for you. There are lots of images, but they’re thumbnails. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther isn’t solely devoted to pantry staples, but it has a lovely chapter towards the back called “From the Larder” that includes a terrific selection of pickles, relishes, and preserves that is worth the cost of admission. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • I can’t say enough good things about Cathy Barrow’s long-anticipated book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. It is THE book for people who want to do a deep, thorough dive into building a from-scratch pantry. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Finally, Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade by Rachel Saunders. A meticulous preserver and writer, Rachel has written the definitive book for people who stare at their pantry and wonder, “what else can I do with this besides smear it on toast.” A must-own for an avid canner. (Amazon | Powell’s)
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Giveaway: Preserving Book Bundle

preserving books

Friends, so many good preserving books came out in the last year. Truly, I feel like we’re in a golden age for jams, pickles, chutneys, ferments, and even low acid home canning. For this week’s giveaway, I have a short stack of recent preserving releases that would be a fantastic addition to any DIY library.

Now, just to be clear, this is not my definitive list of the best preserving books to hit the shelves this year. I just happen to have extra copies of all three of these books (thanks to the publishers who helped bring these works into the world) and thought it would be nice to bundle them up and give them away to one of my readers.

Asian Pickles cover

First up in the giveaway stack is Karen Solomon’s excellent book, Asian Pickles. I wrote a bit about this book last June and the longer I have it in my collection, the more I love it. Truly, anyone who wants to expand their understanding of home picking should pick up a copy post haste.

Fermented Vegetables cover

Next is Fermented Vegetables, which has been out just over a month now. Written by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, this book is one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly books on fermentation that I’ve seen recently. The pictures are beautiful and lend additional clarity to step-by-step recipes that might otherwise be troublesome.

Last month, I used their recipe for brined dilly beans and I was so pleased by the results that I started entertaining the idea of getting myself a mini-fridge so that I could make more.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's cover

Last in the stack is Cathy Barrow’s much-anticipated book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. This is such an amazing book for home cooks who want to start building up a pantry filled with homemade staples. Sure, it has plenty of boiling water bath recipes, but it also deals with pressure canning, charcuterie, basic home dairy, and smoking. Anyone who likes a food project should have this one on their shelf.

There will be just one winner in this giveaway, who will receive a box with these three books in them. Here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite food preservation resource. It can be a website, book, online video, or person. Share the love so that we can all expand our knowledge.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 29, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, November 30, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

The winner of this giveaway is #380/Tina! Congratulations Tina!

Disclosure: All three of these books were received as review copies. No one paid me to say nice things about them. Additionally, Karen and Cathy are both friends of mine. However, they did not ask me to run this giveaway or say these things. I do it because I like to share the good stuff with you guys.  

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Cookbook: A Kitchen in France

A Kitchen in France cover

It is the season for big, beautiful cookbooks. Once such new entry into the holiday book gift arena is A Kitchen in France. Written by Mimi Thorisson (who is also the face and voice behind the equally lovely blog Manger), this book is beautifully photographed and gracefully designed and is devoted to Thorisson family as they live, eat and explore in the French countryside.

A Kitchen in France onion tart

When I first opened a copy of A Kitchen in France, I expected to find a lovely book that would give me the opportunity to escape into world different my own. What I didn’t expect was that the book would also contain a goodly number of recipes that I would want to immediately flag for my own to-make list.

A Kitchen in France butternut gratin

Now that the days are getting downright bone-chilling, I found myself most drawn to the soups, gratins, and stews. Anything to warm us up from the inside out appeals right now. So far, I have the Harvest Soup (page 158), Garlic Soup (page 242), and Beef Cheek Stew (page 261) on my to-make radar. Thank goodness Scott doesn’t ever get tired of eating soup for dinner!

A Kitchen in France back

I have cooked one thing from this book so far and it was a winner. When I was down in Austin last month, I made the Butternut Gratin on page 195. I took pictures of a few recipes that sounded good (so that I could try them while traveling without bringing an eight pound book with me). My sister had half of a giant squash in her fridge and some heavy cream in her fridge, so the pieces just fell into place.

A Kitchen in France spine

This recipe has actually gotten a lot of play on various websites recently, being that it’s the type that would work on a Thanksgiving table. And while that’s true, having now made it for a weeknight dinner (and pared it with turkey burgers and steamed broccoli), I think it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked for humbler occasions.

butternut squash gratin

Most of the work is in prepping the squash, but if you have a sturdy peeler and a sharp knife, even that goes fairly quickly. I won’t reprint the recipe here, because it’s already so many places on the web (including Food52 and Leite’s Culinaria) When I made it, I used about 3/4 pound more squash than the recipe called for, and topped it with a mild grated cheddar and seasoned bread crumbs out of a cardboard canister.

Even with those humbler ingredients (used because that’s what was available), it was delicious. There were four adults and one pre-schooler eating dinner that night and we didn’t leave a drop leftover.

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Giveaway: Quench by Ashley English

Quench cover

For first 23 years of my life, homemade drinks were limited to coffee, tea, and orange juice reconstituted from frozen concentrate. Soon after I moved to Philadelphia, I learned what a pleasure it could be to make infused iced teas (black spiced with lavender and green steeped with a few apple slices are still favorites from those days). Since then, I’ve played with syrups, shrubs, kombucha, and the occasional homemade soda carbonated with champagne yeast.

Quench intro

However, Ashley English‘s new book (which officially comes out tomorrow!) makes me realize that I’ve only just tapped at the surface of what is possible in the world of homemade beverages. Called Quench, this lovely little hardback features shrubs, infused spirits, fermented sips, herbal tisanes, sweet/tart sodas, party punches, and inventive cocktails.

Quench infused liquors

What I particularly like about this book is that there is something here for just about everyone. Kids will love helping to make the homemade Lemon Lime Soda (page 23), while parents will be happy that it only requires five ingredients (and other than citric acid, they’re all kitchen staples). Hard core DIY folks will dig the wine making tutorial (page 155), while those of us who like a good infusion will happily explore the chapter called Spirited (it starts on page 103).

Quench gin and tonic punch

I am also taken by the fact that Quench includes both recipes for seasonal, serviceable basics (like the Pear Bitters on page 143) and then suggestions for how to use them in something delicious, like the Cozy Cardigan Cocktail, (further down on page 143). I’ve also made a mental note that I must someday frost a cake with the Lavender and Honey Ganache that is used in the Lavender Hot Chocolate on page 84.

Quench back

I’ve had a serious crush on this book since last winter, when Ashley’s editor sent me a copy of the bound manuscript and asked if I might write a blurb for the back. I spent half a day lost in the words and recipes, and have looked forward to the finished book ever since. The completed version is better than I could have imagined, printed on sturdy paper and illustrated with Jen Altman’s perfect photography.

Quench spine

Thanks to Ashley and Roost Books, I have two copies of Quench to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite homemade beverage. It can be hard or soft, simple or complex. OR, if you prefer, share something that’s on your to-make list.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 1, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by the end of the day on Sunday, November 2, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Roost Books sent me three copies of Quench. One was for photography and review purposes, and the other two were to give away. No additional compensation was required and, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.