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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

103 | 365

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!

Canning Book: Saving the Seasons

World Community Cookbooks

I’ve been getting a number of requests lately, both over email and on the Facebook page, asking me to recommend a couple of good canning books for people just getting started canning. Happily, the canning book market is positively exploding these days (as canning grows in popularity), so there are a number of terrific new volumes for me to suggest.

Saving the Season

One new book that recently drifted my way that I was delighted to discover and am excited to recommend is Saving the Seasons. This volume is written and produced in the tradition of those classic cookbooks More-With-Less, Extending the Table and Simply in Season (this one came out about five years ago, so it’s not that old). If you know anything about those books, they come out of the Mennonite community and emphasize healthful, frugal, seasonal eating.

tomato canning spread

One of the terrific things about Saving the Seasons is the fact that it is dedicated to all forms of food preservation, from canning, to drying, to freezer preserving. That particularly great because it then becomes an all-in-one reference. It’s also got several instances (like the one you see above) in which they walk you through each step of the process with pictures. Excellent for visual learners.

guide to the harvest

The book contains a number of recipes, as well as handy reference charts. One thing to note is that the jam recipes do call for pectin (I know a number of you are hoping to phase out your pectin use, so if that’s a concern for you, be aware). I’ve yet to cook out of this book, but I’ve got my eyes on the Hot Peach Chutney and the Dilled Green Tomatoes.

baby food

A few of you have reached out in the last couple of weeks, asking about making and canning baby food. Not being a parent yet (hopefully soon though), I don’t have any first-hand knowledge to share. This book has a brief section devoted to the making and freezing (not canning though) of delicious things to feed your little one.

drying apples

Beyond all the useful information that this book offers, what I like most about it is the feel and tone with which it’s written. The co-authors (Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer) are mother and daughter, and as you read it feels a little like they’ve opened up their pantry and shared the many ways they eat well all year round. It’s a cozy, accessible feeling and makes me want to leap up from the couch and head for the kitchen. In my opinion, that’s just what a good cookbook should do.

In the interest of full disclosure, know that I was sent a review copy of this book.

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Ball Blue Book Giveaway

ball blue books

Hey canners! My apologies for the radio silence of late. I was out of town on a little vacation over Memorial Day Weekend (Thursday through Monday) and when I returned, work turned into a noisy and demanding beast. It looks like it’s going to continue in that vein for the next 12 days (I’m working on a very cool project that will be launching on June 14), so posting round these parts will be spare.

However, do know that this site is never far from my mind. In fact, while shopping for jars this weekend (isn’t that what everyone does on their vacation?) I stumbled across a terrific deal on copies of the Ball Blue Book. It’s the 2008 edition, but all the canning info is still relevant and I’ve been told that it’s only one recipe different from the 2009 version. I picked up two copies to give away here.

You have until Sunday evening (June 6, 2010) at 11:59 p.m. to leave a comment and enter the giveaway. In your comment, share your favorite fruit preserve recipe. Feel free to write the recipe out or link to where people can find it. Let’s spread the love for those jams, jellies and other preserves!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Good to the Grain

two cookies

During my childhood, my mother was notorious for slipping whole wheat flour into baked goods in place of white flour. In her hands, this led to pie crusts that fell to pieces when sliced (I imagine her tendency to reduce butter amounts also contributed to this problem) and less-than-light quick breads. Thing was, baked goods were fairly rare indulgences, so we gobbled these offerings up despite their minor issues of crumb and structure and counted ourselves supremely lucky.

chocolate chip cookie recipe in Good to the Grain

Twenty years later, I’m a little chagrined to admit that this apple hasn’t fallen far from her tree. I’m always looking for ways to transform baked goods into something just slightly more healthful and whole grain flours are part of my regular baking routine (particularly whole wheat pastry flour – I love that stuff). Because of this, I am particularly smitten with Kim Boyce’s lovely new book Good to the Grain.

chopped chocolate

I’ve had it in my coffee table stack of new favorites for a while. I bought little bags of teff, buckwheat and millet flours, waiting for inspiration to strike. And then tonight, I was finally moved by the bag of King Arthur Whole Wheat flour on the kitchen counter and a plaintive request from Scott for a sweet treat. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies it was!

cookies to freeze

These cookies come together quickly. I started them at 9 p.m. and we were munching within the hour. They are sweet (don’t think that the whole wheat flour makes these a health food – 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar does not a low-cal cookie make) but are nicely balanced by the addition of 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (the flakier the better). I baked up about half the recipe, the remaining dough got scooped and frozen for future late-night cookie attacks.

stack of cookies

I’m looking forward to digging into more of the recipes and trying out those bags of flours that are still hanging out in my kitchen.  I have a funny feeling I have yet to discover my favorite flour. (And, if you’re curious, the remaining cookies are cooling their heels in a jar on the counter. Would you expect anything else from me?)

Also, a little note from the Food in Jars shop. I recently added these very snazzy aprons to the items in my little store. They’re quite cute and will make you the most fashionable baker/canner/cook on the block. What’s more, there’s a coupon available now through Friday that will score you 20% off on one of these bad boys. Just type in 20Tayga during checkout to get the discount.

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