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Fork You Returns + The Geometry of Pasta Giveaway

Years ago, before the canning bug well and truly bit me, my husband Scott and I regularly made an online cooking show called Fork You. In all honesty, the production of the show was essentially our courtship, as it gave us an excuse to spend time together when we were just friends and weren’t yet able to fess up to the fact that we adored one another wildly.

When we did finally started dating (and very soon thereafter, living together) the production of new episodes slowed to a crawl, because we just didn’t need an excuse to hang out. And then, when our “crew” (friends Thad and Angie) had a pair of wickedly cute twin daughters and didn’t have any extra time to do crazy stuff like spend a Saturday afternoon filming cooking videos, well, Fork You went on life support.

However, I’m happy to announce that we’re bringing it back (or at least, trying to). We’re planning on featuring recipes on a monthly basis from some of the cookbooks that publishers occasionally send me, so that they don’t just collect in awkward piles in the living room.

The first book featured in this new season of Fork You is The Geometry of Pasta, written by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand and published by Quirk Books. Quirk was kind enough to send us copies of the book, as well as some cash to cover ingredient costs (that was a first for me).

Take a look and let us know what you think. If I sound a bit stuffed up, know that we filmed this during the height of the cold I had at the end of December.

Oh, and if you want a chance at winning the copy of The Geometry of Pasta that we have to give away, leave a comment here and share your favorite pasta shape. Comments will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 31. We’ll be in touch with the winner soon after that.

Soba Noodles with Peanut/Sesame Sauce and Julienned Vegetables

peanut soba noodles

The first third of my cookbook is due in two weeks. This means that while I’ve been writing and cooking like mad lately, not much of it has been destined to appear here. As I gave the old brain a little jingle-jangle, to see if anything I’ve cooked recently would be appropriate for this humble little website, a bowl of soba noodles fell out (well, not literally).

I cooked this up for lunch last Tuesday, in between batches of granola. I borrowed the proportions for the sauce (with a few tweaks) from the recipe for Takeout Style Sesame Noodles in The Essential New York Times Cookbook and poured it over two quickly boiled clusters of soba noodles, as well as some julienned carrots and cucumber (made with one of these). Finally, I tossed in some leftover chopped jerk tofu, a final remnant from a New Year’s Eve potluck (what? It was only a week+ old when I made this. Besides, tofu keeps).

This humble little dish was one of the best things I ate all week. The vegetables kept it tasting fresh and the sauce was the ideal cold noodle topper. Should you be looking for a cold sesame noodle dish, this one is a winner. Slurp and enjoy!

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A Few Current Cookbook Favorites + Giveaway

cookbook stack one

Lately, it seems as if every day brings a new gift guide or best cookbooks of the year list from some corner of the internet. I briefly considered putting one or another of my own together, but I did a gift guide last year (and things haven’t changed much in the world of canning since then) and truly, I am not perfectly acquainted with all the new cookbooks that came out this year.

cookbook stack two

Instead, I thought I show you the stack of cookbooks that I’ve been flipping through and using the most lately. Some of these came out this year, but a handful of them are classic books that I’ve loved for years.

How to Feed Your Friends with Relish

How to Feed Your Friends with Relish came out several years ago. However, I only discovered it recently, so it’s happily new to me. It’s just the kind of cookbook I like best, lots of good food and plenty of narrative that allows you to read as if it were a novel. Plus, knowing that it was written by a British author means that when I read it, I can use an English accent in my head, which is a whole other kind of satisfying entertainment.

DIY Delicious

D.I.Y. Delicious by Vanessa Barrington is a book that falls firmly in my wheelhouse and so will certainly appeal to many, many readers of this site. Essentially, she set out to learn how to make a whole world of things we’ve taken to buying at the grocery store. She takes the homemade assignment far further than I do here and shows how to make lovely things like tortillas, worlds of vinaigrettes and sour dough starter.

The Way We Cook

The Way We Cook is a book I first discovered when it first came out in 2003 (in fact, Amazon tells me that I bought it almost exactly seven years ago today) and I love it as much today as I did when it first arrived. In the beginning, it was an aspirational cookbook for me, full of things like seared scallops and many-ingredient stews.

As I became a more confident cook, I grew into it and my copy is now wrinkled and stained. I’ve got good news for you all too. I recently spotted copies at Borders for $4.99, so if it sounds interesting to you, head to your local outpost and see if you can’t score a bargain copy.

Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook

Written by fellow food blogger Rachel Rappaport, The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook is a fantastic book for those of us who love our slow cookers. The thing I like most about this book is that it has helped me expand my understand of what a slow cooker can do (in the past, I’ve use mine primarily for fruit butters, chicken stock and cooking beans). There are a number of recipes I’ve marked that I hope to try soon. After all, what better time of year for a slow cooker than chilly winter?

Almost Meatless

In recent years, I’ve been working hard to buy better meat. For me, this means that it was locally raised and grass-fed. Of course, that choice comes with a heftier price tag and means that the end result is that we end up eating less meat.

Happily, Almost Meatless has been on my shelf since the spring of 2009, helping me make that good meat taste wonderful and stretch further than I ever thought possible. It’s a really great book that also happens to have been I written by two women I know and adore. However, I’d love it even if they were perfect strangers.

Salted

Written by salt expert Mark Bitterman, Salted, is a glorious book. Admittedly, I was a natural audience for it, as I’ve been obsessed with salt for years now (truly, I have more than eight varieties in my kitchen right now). But even if I was a complete salt novice, I would have been quickly converted by its lovely pictures and pure passion. If you get a book store gift card for the holidays this year and find single subject books fascinating, you should consider splurging on this one.

Love Soup

Not to be totally redundant, but I do truly love soup. Be it bean, chicken, beef or vegetable, I welcome it in my kitchen. I first heard about Love Soup when it came out last fall. I spent a year resisting buying it (when I buy a new cookbook, my husband raises an eyebrow and says, “really? Another one?”) before finally succumbing back in October. Since then, it has served as inspiration for many a warming bowl of soup. When my sister gets married someday, I want to give her a copy of this book paired with a sturdy soup pot.

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

You’ve probably heard about In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite already. It’s been something of a food blog darling since it came out this fall. I tend to be a little skeptical of books that get so much attention (I can’t help but root for the underdog), but in this case, the people were right. It’s wonderful. I particularly love the fact that there’s a chapter called ‘Things With Cheese.’ There is no way not to love this book.

The Yogurt Bible

I like yogurt. I like it plain, with granola or with a few spoonfuls of jam stirred in. I also like to cook with it (example: this quick bread recipe). I’m loving The Yogurt Bible because it has opened up a wider world of yogurt appreciation than I ever knew possible. Mmm, yogurt.

Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

I have a well-documented weakness for community cookbooks and have at least 25 in my apartment (a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to adopt a number from a collection that had belonged to the mother of a friend of a friend). However, The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook is really a whole different animal from those simple spiral-bound community collections. It’s an expertly curated assortment of classic southern recipes and I love it.

Mixt

I love salads nearly as much as I love soups. In fact, just this evening, we had a chopped salad of crunchy veg, grilled chicken and garbanzo beans, bound together with a pesto-mayonnaise dressing. It was a new salad for me and came to be because I’ve had my copy of Mixt Salads out on the dining room table for the last week, radiating fresh ideas. This is wonderfully helpful since I often find myself treading the same well-traveled path between butter lettuce, arguula and baby spinach. It’s nice to eat something new.

Gifts Cooks Love

As you may have figured out, I’m a sucker for edible gifts. Gifts Cooks Love takes my simple canning and baking and reminds me that it can be elevated it into something special. I realize it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good for this holiday season, but this is the kind of volume that will become a classic that you’ll turn to year after year.

Yikes, writing this post has been something of a marathon. I hope you made it this far! If you did, you’re in luck. I have copies of two of the books on this list to give away. Leave a comment sharing your favorite cookbook to give as a gift by Thursday, December 23 at 11:59 p.m. to enter for a chance to win a copy of either The Yogurt Bible or Gifts Cook Love.

Some Cookbooks I’m Loving Lately

stack of recent cookbook favorites

I’m nearly out of empty jars, and other than a small pile green tomatoes waiting to be pickled, I’m currently free from a canning project pile-up. While I look around for my next burst of canning inspiration, I thought I’d tell you some of the cookbooks I’ve been enjoying recently (because one cannot live by canned goods alone). These are the books I’ve been turning to lately for mealtime inspiration as well as general reading material (what? Doesn’t everyone read cookbooks for fun?).

Interior page from Canal House Cooking #4

I am completely enamored of the Canal House Cookbook series. If it hasn’t yet crossed your path, it is half cookbook, half tri-yearly food magazine. Pictured above is a two-page spread from their fourth edition, which shipped earlier this summer. This one contains a slew of summer and early fall recipes. I’m already beginning to reference volume 2, which was the fall and holiday edition from last year.

Interior page from Canal House Cooking #4

I’m particularly fond of this page, which offers a number of compound butters. They are such great ways to totally change the a dish and I never remember to use them. I’m trying to change my ways, though. I’m anxiously awaiting this year’s fall and holiday edition of Canal House.

Interior page from Canning for a New Generation

I do love a canning cookbook that includes some recipes for how to use the contents of those gleaming jars that you’ve so carefully put up. Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation does just that, making it a really good year-round book for the home canner (if you’re a preserver, consider adding this one to your holiday wish list).

The Meatlover's Meatless Cookbook

I’ve known Kim O’Donnel virtually for more than four years now, but I only met her in person on Wednesday night. Happily, her brand new book The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook is just as wonderful as she is. I’ve been getting increasingly concerned about ensuring that I’m eating more vegetables and less meat, and so I’m looking forward to using this book to do just that.

interior photo page from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook

The photos in this book are also completely stunning. Look at that spread up there! I want to climb right into the scene. While I can’t do that, will be sharing my love for this book by giving a copy to my meat-ambivalent sister for Christmas (I hope she’s not reading this).

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

So here’s the thing about Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. It’s beautiful. The recipes, while completely free of gluten, don’t have that sense that they’re trying to cover up for a missing ingredient. The entire book is filled with lovely, joyful food. It’s a volume for everyone, not just people who need to avoid gluten.

interior page from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

I have two neck pumpkins in my apartment right now (neck pumpkins are grown a lot in Pennsylvania and look like huge, overgrown butternut squash) and so I’ve flagged this pumpkin soup recipe as one to make in the next few days. I love that soup season has arrived!

Nuts in the Kitchen

I picked up Nuts in the Kitchen at The Strand when Scott and I were in New York back in August. I bought it strictly because I’ve loved the cookbooks that Susan Herrmann Loomis wrote in the past and so figured I’d like this one too. Happily, it was a good gamble. I’ve yet to actually cook from it, but I’ve been marking pages as if sticky notes grew on trees.

interior page from Time for Dinner

I’ve been reading the blog Dinner: A Love Story for months now (although the site seems to be down right now). It’s written by one of the former Cookie Magazine editor Jenny Rosenstrach and it’s one of my current favorites. While still with Cookie, Jenny wrote a book with two of her fellow editors called Time for Dinner. I resisted buying for a while, trying to convince myself that my cookbook shelves were overstuffed enough, but recently, I succumbed. Though it’s designed to provide dinnertime back-up for parents, it’s also a lovely source of inspiration for those of us who’ve yet to reproduce as well.

And, for those of you who are in the habit of pressure canning chicken stock (truly, it changed my life), the above recipe would take all of ten minutes to make and serve up. The best kind of fast food, if you ask me.

interior page from The Wild Table

The Wild Table by Connie Green is a book that doesn’t actually come out for a few more weeks now. An review copy of it landed in my mailbox late last week, and I fell for it fast and hard. It’s a big, beautiful book with loads of glossy-but-rustic photos of foraged ingredients and the many wonderful things that can be made from them.

Now, living in the city, it’s not always easy to do much foraging. In that way, this is more of an aspirational book for me than an inspirational one. And I’m okay with that.

interior page from Sarabeth's Bakery

This is another book that came to me by way of a publisher’s PR company. Called Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, it’s written by Sarabeth Levine, the woman behind the nearly ubiquitous line of homemade-style preserves. She’s also got a charming bakery in New York’s Chelsea Market (but I learned from the book that she got her start by making an orange-apricot marmalade). It’s a hefty tome, mostly filled with recipes for baked goods (as one might expect).

Of course, the section that appeals to me most is the one near the back that offers up some of Sarabeth’s famous spreadable fruits. It’s not an extensive canning section, but adds a nice counterpoint to all the baked goods. This is another one that would make a good holiday gift, should you have someone on your list who deserves a gorgeous baking book.

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Books, Press, Conferences and More

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When I was 13 years old, I decided that I wanted to become a public speaker when I grew up (yes, I do realize that that’s sort of an odd thing for a freshly minted teenager to choose). The only problem was that I didn’t know what it was that I wanted to talk about. So I let that dream go quiet, not giving up on it exactly, but letting it slip to the background as I went to school, moved across the country, worked and generally lived my life.

It’s funny how things work out though, because in the process of living, I found my niche and became someone who publicly writes, teaches and talks about canning and home food preservation. The 13 year old version of me would be pretty incredulous, but the 31 year old version couldn’t be happier with the way things are working out.

To that end, I thought it was time to share with you some good news (though if you spotted the article the Daily News article in which I was featured, you’ve already got the scoop). I’m writing a cookbook. It will be called Food in Jars (just like this website) and will include 100 recipes that will cover jams, pickles, fruit butters, tomato products, granolas and bread mixes. The book will be published by Running Press and will be coming out in the spring of 2012. As you might guess, I am thrilled.

white peaches

In other fun news, the BlogHer Food agenda was published last week and I’m excited to say that I’ll be speaking in the session entitled The Old-School Arts: Canning, Preserving, Foraging. My fellow Philly-based preserver Audra Wolfe (aka Doris the Goat) will also be up there with me and Sean Timberlake (who just launched the fabulous Punk Domestics site) will be moderating the session.

And now, in other preserving news, I’ve recently learned that the Mother Earth News Fair is taking place the weekend of September 25-26 just outside of Pittsburgh, PA and has a huge focus on canning, preserving, fermentation, cheese-making, baking, beer brewing and other kitchen arts. Unfortunately, I’ve already got plans that weekend, so I can’t go. However, for those of you who live within a doable drive of that area, I think you should consider attending. It sounds amazing (Sherri Brooks Vinton, the author of Put ‘Em Up! will be there) and the tickets are really affordable. A one-day pass is $15 and a weekend pass is $25. Kids 17 years and under are free.

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Canning Book: Put ‘Em Up (+ giveaway!)

Put 'Em Up

One of the things I love most about the fact that canning and home food preservation is gaining popularity is how it’s meant an increase in beautifully designed, thoughtfully written and downright inspirational books on the subject.

Put 'Em Up

Take, for instances, Put ’em Up!, a new release by Sherri Brooks Vinton. The book bills itself as “A Comprehensive Home Preservation Guide” and covers not only canning, but also drying and freezing. And truly, after spending several days paging through this hefty number, I think she’s managed to cover just about everything you’d want to know on the subject.

Put 'Em Up

I’m particularly smitten with the line drawings they’ve used in place of illustrative photographs. Though I like a pretty food image as much as the next girl, I could see how they could be distracting when your primary goal is to convey deeply useful information in a crisp and intelligible manner.

Put 'Em Up

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any photos in the book. You’ll find pages like this at the front of each section, each featuring a number of quirky and colorful examples of what you could make, should you choose to pick up a copy.

Put 'Em Up

Don’t you just love this two-page spread on how to make fermented pickles! It’s just so helpful! As you can tell, I have something of a crush on this book. Call it my canning companion of the moment.

If you’re thinking that you’d like to make a copy of this book yours, leave a comment on this post. Tell me about your favorite pickle and do it before Tuesday, July 20th at 11:59 p.m. (I’ll be closing the comments at that time). I have two copies of this book to give away (provided by the publisher), so your chances to win are even greater than normal (and, if you don’t win, I’d still recommend picking up a copy. It’s less than $14 on Amazon).

Let the giveaway begin!