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Cookbooks: Homemade Soda

Homemade Soda

If I’d been really on top of my game, I would have written about this book back in June, when summer was full of possibility and there were still plenty of long, warm evenings ahead for sipping cool drinks. Instead, it’s late September. October will be here in a blink. What on earth makes me think it’s a good time to feature a book about Homemade Soda?

Homemade Soda interior

Well, for one thing, the holidays are starting to loom. If you’ve got a devoted DIY-er on your list, this might just be the perfect book to wrap for them this year (paired with a soda siphon if you’re feeling really generous). What’s more, there are plenty of recipes that work all year round, like the Vanilla Pear Sparkler (page 158) or the Effervescent Jasmine Honey Tea (page 191).

Very Cherry Cola

What makes this book so cool is that there are a number of ways you can use it. Many of the recipes can be made as syrups that you can stir into sparkling water. If you want to take it up a notch, there are also instructions on how to charge the entire concoction with bubbles for a more authentic flavor. There are also recipes for naturally fermented sodas tucked into the book, for those of you who want your carbonation to come the old fashioned way.

fruity recipes

The other thing that makes Homemade Soda stand out from other books about infused syrups and home brewed soft drinks is the third part of the book, which is devoted to recipes that incorporate sodas into the ingredient list. From Ginger Beer Chicken Curry (page 272) to Chocolate Root Beer Cheesecake (page 292), these recipes will have you on your feet and headed to the kitchen in no time.

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Canning Cookbook: Home Made by Yvette Von Boven

Homemade cover

My cookbook collection is out of control. Just like the jars, they are in every room of our apartment (oddly, except the kitchen. There’s no room in there for anything other than food, cookware and me). I’ve tried to go cold turkey and abstain from new books entirely, but occasionally, there’s one that is so beautiful and alluring that I can’t resist giving it a permanent place on the shelves. Home Made by Yvette Von Boven is one such book.

Homemade spine

Yvette Von Boven is a European food stylist, freelance writer and restaurant-owner who’s work regularly appears in a variety of magazines and other publications. Home Made was published first in Dutch and was named the Dutch cookbook of the year in 2010.

Homemade - Making Jam

One of the things that most charmed me about this book right off the bat was the tone it takes. Chatty and confidence-inspiring, after reading her instructions, you’ll feel like you can take on any one of these projects. However, before you dive in to any of her preserving project, I would recommend that you also acquaint yourself with current USDA standards. This book recommends the inversion method for sealing jams and also gives instruction on how to reuse canning jar lids, both ill-advised according US standards.

Homemade - Duck Ham

The pages are filled with lovely, useful illustrations like the ones you see above. I love a recipe that’s written with drawings instead of simply typed in the conventional fashion. There are also a number of recipes I’ve bookmarked, like the butternut pickles (a refrigerator pickle, not a processed one) on page 162 and the rose tea marshmallows you see below.

Homemade - Rose Tea Marshmallows

And just so I don’t give you the impression that this book is only a preserving and food crafting one, you should know that the pages are also bursting with recipes for delicious-sounding things like Chicken Kebabs with Honey, Prunes and Walnuts (page 253), Salad with Celeriac, Goat Cheese, Pomegranate & Tarragon (page 176) and the Vanilla Fritters with Zabaglione (page 330). Who’s ready to eat?

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book. However, my thoughts and opinions are, as always, entirely my own.


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Homemade Living with Ashley English Winner

Homemade Living with Ashley English

Goodness. There sure were a lot of you hoping to win Ashley English’s Homemade Living series! Deservedly too, as these books are truly excellent resources. Sadly, I have but one set to give away and has selected #927. That’s the comment left by Shelagh, who said,

“I am in the process of transforming green beans (purchased from a friend’s tiny  organic farm) into dilly beans, which will get us through the long, cold Maine winter. “Canning and Preserving” would be welcome reading material as I plan next year’s garden.”

Shelagh, here’s hoping that these books help you plan your plot for 2012! For the rest of you, I do encourage you to seek out Ashley’s books going forward. Whether you were interested in Canning & Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Home Dairy and Keeping Bees, treat yourself to a copy or request one from the local library. They are most definitely worth reading!

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Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It + Giveaway

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

It is stunning to me how much the world of information around canning, preserving and  DIY food arts has expanded in the last couple of years. When I first started this blog in early 2009, it was so easy to be familiar with the canon of books on the topic. I had them all and they took up about 18 inches of space on the bookshelf.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Then suddenly, a new wave of books started to flow onto the market. One of the best of this first round was Karen Solomon’s Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. It offered instruction on canning, easy home dairy items and a variety of other projects that were universally welcomed by home cooks who wanted slightly more control over their food.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Karen recently published a follow-up volume called Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It that is just as delightful as her first book. It includes a handful traditional preserves, as well as instructions for homemade cereals (cornflakes! puffed rice!), miso, rice milk, smoked nuts  and so much more.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

For those of you who were intrigued but overwhelmed by Charcutepalooza and its many meaty challenges, you’re going to want to take a peek at the Hunt It section of the book. Karen has included a series of accessible, easy to follow recipes for corned beef, pastrami and hot dogs (as well as instructions for how to transform those hot dogs into corn dogs.

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Every time I sit down with this book for more than a few minutes, I start to itch for the kitchen. The urge to cook become irresistible. My apartment has seen her Sesame Rosemary Granola, the Basic Barbecue Sauce and the Pickled Grapes (so good).

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Last fall when I was in San Francisco, I got to meet Karen. We were both judges at the Good Food Awards and during a break in the tasting, she bought me a cup of coffee and we shared tales of obsessive preserving and cookbook writing. Somehow, that led to a request that I write a blurb for the book’s back cover. Entirely flattered, I was thrilled to do it.

All that said, here’s the point I really want to make. Even if I’d never known the first book, never met Karen and never spent hours pouring over a xeroxed galley copy trying to concisely say why I thought it was so good, I would still like this book. The recipes are super solid. The head notes are full of personality. And the pictures are pretty. It’s definitely a buy it, use it, love it book.

So, all that said, let’s get to the good part. I have a copy of Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It to give away to a Food in Jars reader. Here are the details…

  1. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and share a kitchen project that you’ve been wanting to tackle.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Tuesday, August 9.
  3. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my more far-flung readers).
  4. One entry per person, please.

Disclosure: I received two copies of this book for free. I’m keeping one in the hopes that I can get Karen to sign it for me someday. The other I’m offering up here. However, despite the copies, that cup of coffee and my unconcealed admiration for Karen and her writing, my opinions are still all my own.

Canning Book: Putting Up More

Putting Up & Putting Up More

Stephen Palmer Dowdney’s first book, Putting Up was one of my very first canning books. I bought my copy in early in 2009, around the time when I first started this blog. I used it as starting place when I made my first batch of pickled asparagus (how long ago that feels!) and I continue to reference it on a regular basis.

While walking by the Cookbook Stall at Reading Terminal Market about a week ago, I happened to spot Putting Up More in the window. I was surprised, as I hadn’t heard anything about a new canning book from Dowdney, but I stopped and bought a copy right there and then (let’s hear it for supporting local book shops!).

Putting Up More - pH Meter

One of the things that makes Dowdney’s books stand out in the pack of canning volumes is the perspective from which he writes. He owned a commercial canning operation for more than 10 years and so isn’t as tethered to the home canning practices to which we all cleave. He sterilizes his jars in a bleach solution instead of a canning pot or dishwasher, utilizes the inversion method for sealing, skips a processing step for hot pack recipes and even gives you the intellectual tools necessary to check the pH levels of your goods.

Putting Up More - Sweet Onion Jam

Though he doesn’t specifically say it, his instructions on how to test acidity and how to adjust to bring your goods into a safe range is the information so many of us have been looking for. As long as you’re willing to follow his directions (to the letter), this technique will finally set you free from the confines of tested recipes. If this sounds appealing to you, I recommend that you get your hands on both Putting Up and Putting Up More, as they’re designed to work as companion volumes.

Putting Up More - Pickled Brussels Sprouts

He includes a section of canning notes in each recipe, which details whether the recipe is one that will need to have its acid levels tested, what the yield will be, his recommendation for jar size (a hugely helpful bit) and whether the recipe can be safely increased or decreased. Dowdney has also taken a great deal of time to offer up suggestions on how to use and serve each recipe. For those of you who make things and then question what the heck to do with them, this is fantastic.

Putting Up More - Tomato Basil Soup

Other high points of this book include the safe for canning soups (including butternut squash, which I imagine will make some USDA canners devotees freak out), an entire section devoted to products made from hot peppers and an eggplant chutney that sounds incredible. As soon as the eggplant, peppers and summer squash are in season, I’m making it.

Putting Up More - rear inside

Because I think they’re excellent books, I’m giving away the pair of Putting Up and Putting Up More. This is not a publisher-sponsored giveaway, I just think these books are wonderful and I want to support Stephen Palmer Dowdney and the work he does in creative, inspirational canning.

The giveaway starts tonight and runs through Wednesday, May 25 at 11:59 p.m. In your comment, share what canned good you’re most looking forward to making this summer. The winner will be selected at random (via and will be posted here on Thursday, May 26. Please, just one entry per person.

In totally other news, I just started another year of a photo a day over on my other blog, Apartment 2024 (I used my birthday as the start). If you’re curious about what else happens in my life, feel free to take a peek. Recently, I drank a really tasty glass of iced coffee with condensed milk, voted in my local primary election and took a day trip to New Hope courtesy of Chevy.

A Hip Girl’s Potluck + Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets, Carrots and Caramelized Onions

cubed carrots and beets

Earlier tonight, twenty women gathered in my apartment to eat, drink and celebrate Kate Payne and her lovely new book (don’t forget that I’m giving away a copy here). Let me tell you, we had SUCH a fun evening. My dining room table positively groaned under the weight of the deliciousness heaped upon it and the room bubbled with conversation and connections being made.

potluck table

I was so focused on eating, chatting and ensuring that we had enough silverware that I didn’t manage to take more than a few pictures. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t point my camera at Kate or any of my guests. Happily, I was quick thinking enough to ask people to write down their blog addresses, because though we did an around the room introduction, I knew my memory couldn’t be relied upon to keep track each URL. Here’s who showed up:

Lily from Lily’s Barter Bakery
Sara The Cozy Herbivore
Carly from Harvest Local Foods
Courtney from Inspire. Perspire.
Melissa from Knitter’s Cook Book
Sarah from Sarah Anne Burns
Robin Shreeves from South Jersey Locavore and Mother Nature Network’s food channel
Yvonne from Marijayn
Jenni from Domestic Efforts
Kerri from Vintage Now
Audra from Doris and Jilly Cook

348 | 365

For my contribution to the potluck table, I made a salad that I’ve been mentally formulating for awhile. I chopped five carrots and three beets into small cubes, tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven until tender. While the cooked, I chopped and caramelized a giant red onion in two tablespoons of butter.

Once those two components were finished cooking and had a chance to cool down a little, I heaped them atop a giant bowl of baby arugula. It got finished with some thin shavings (made with a vegetable peeler) of hard pecorino romano, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and salt and pepper. The resulting salad was a tangle of sweet, tangy and salty cheese. I’m already looking for a reason to make it again.

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