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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. 

 

Cookbooks: Honey & Oats

honey & oats cover

I have been interested in cookbooks for nearly as long I can remember. I picked up the habit of reading them cover to cover when I was eight or nine years old and haven’t stopped since. One aspect of this blog that brings me an awful lot of pleasure is that it grants me the opportunity to share particularly good cookbooks with all of you.

honey & oats spine

Since mid-March, I haven’t done as good a job as I would have liked with this cookbook sharing. Shepherding my own cookbook through the world took up a goodly amount of my attention and just didn’t leave me with a whole lot of energy with which to pore over the new cookbooks that find their way into the unsteady stack by my desk. I’m finally starting to work my way through the pile and I’m going to be better about writing about the best of the books that find their way into my life.

honey & oats interior

One book that I’ve been itching to share is Honey & Oats by Jennifer Katzinger. It’s a book devoted to baking with whole grains and natural sweeteners and it couldn’t be a better fit for the way I like to eat. The featured grains are oats (obviously), einkorn, wheat, barley, buckwheat, spelt, kamut, teff, and tapioca. The sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and sucanat.

buttermilk biscuits

There are 75 recipes in the book and they are divided into six sections – Scones & Muffins, Cookies & Bars, Quick Breads, Yeasted Breads & Crackers, Pies & Tarts, and Cakes & Frostings. Ten of the recipes are vegan and another ten are gluten-free. If you have a strictly GF household, this probably isn’t the book for you. However, if you occasionally find yourself needing to product a GF bread or dessert option for a party or potluck, it would definitely be a good addition to your library.

sweet potato skillet cornbread

I have marked a number of recipes to try. In the very near future, I’d like to make the Pear Ginger Muffins with Streusel Topping (barley flour, einkorn flour, and sucanat), the Buttermilk Biscuits (kamut and einkorn flours), Snickerdoodles (teff flour and sucanat), the Applesauce Currant Snack Bread (buckwheat flour, einkorn flour, and maple syrup), and the Sweet Potato Skillet Corn Bread (kamut flour, cornmeal, and honey).

barley walnut boule

As far as the look and feel of this book, it’s entirely lovely. It’s a sturdy, hardbound book that lays flat and open with just a firm press of the pages. The photography stays tight on the food and makes it easy to imagine the various breads, cookies, and pies in your own home. I do wish that a few more of the recipes had images, but knowing how much time, energy and money it takes to produce good food photography, I understand why there aren’t more pictures.

If you like to bake with whole grain flours and less refined sweeteners, you will love this book.

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Cookbooks: Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding

Irma Harding cover

In the 1940s and 1950s, the company International Harvester had a fictional spokesperson named Irma Harding (much like the beloved Betty Crocker). She was the face of their refrigeration division and helped women across the country learn to prepare food for the fridge, freezer, and the canning pot.

Irma Harding spine

In recent years, Irma Harding was mostly forgotten, but in a new book by Marilyn McCray, her memory has been heartily revived. Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding is a volume that serves up the history of Irma herself, along with chapters detailing a number of food preservation techniques.

Irma Harding testing page

Each chapter features both a words of wisdom from Irma, along with relevant and up-to-date information about how to safely pickle, jam, can, ferment, and freeze food. Many sections also have useful line drawings instead of pictures for illustration. They are both whimsically vintage in look, but entirely accurate.

Irma Harding fermenting

If you want a little dose of canning history with your instructions and recipes, this book would make for a fun addition to your preserving library.

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