Tag Archives | cookbooks

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. 

 

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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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Cookbooks: Pick a Pickle and Pickles & Preserves

two pickle books

We are in the thick of the canning season now. Pickling cucumbers are appearing in heaps at the farmers markets and orchards are selling summer stone fruit by the bushel basket. If ever there was a time to add a new recipe or two to your repertory, now is it.

This summer, there have been a few books that keep floating to the top of my stack as I search out a fresh crop of preserves. Two that I haven’t yet mentioned here on the blog are Pick a Pickle and Pickles and Preserves.

pick a pickle splayed

Pick a Pickle comes to us from celebrity chef and regular Top Chef judge, Hugh Acheson (he’s also a spokesperson for Ball). This charming but unwieldy paint chip-style books contains 50 recipes for a wide array of pickles, relishes, condiments, and vinegars.

I like the looks of many of the recipes in this book, but I find it so hard to physically maneuver that I keep getting frustrated and surrendering before ever managing to cook from it. I also find one element of the recipes slightly strange, in that he never gives processing times. Instead, we are told for all canning-safe recipes to, “Cap with lids and bands, cool for 2 hours, and then either refrigerate or process according to the jar manufacturer’s directions.”

classic chow chow

Knowing that processing time varies depending on density, acid content, and the size of the jars, it seems impossible to me that the jar manufacturer would have processing times available for the specific recipes Acheson has included in this book. It’s as if we are not actually expected to preserve from it.

Still, I find the ideas compelling enough that I regularly pick it up, read a few cards (just until inspiration strikes), and then head for the kitchen with a kernel of an idea that was born thanks to Pick a Pickle.

pickles & preserves

Next up is Pickles and Preserves by North Carolina-based food writer Andrea Weigl. Published by the University of North Carolina University Press, as part of their Savor the South series, this slim hardback book offers a carefully edited array of beloved southern preserves. You’ll find everything from sweet potato butter to a flexible batch of vegetable relish, designed to help use up odds and ends from an end-of-season garden.

corn sweet pepper relish

The only flaw that some might find in this book is its lack of photography. However, I found that Weigl is such an able writer that her words painted images enough to illustrate this collection. For lovers of southern preserves, as well as those looking for accessible recipes with a no-nonsense attitude, this book is a good one.

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Cookbooks: Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon

Asian Pickles cover

I have been looking forward to the release of Karen Solomon’s new book, Asian Pickles for at least two years now. Karen is a friend and I stayed with her when I came through San Francisco during my first book tour back in 2012.

During my brief visit, we spent a goodly amount of time talking about our upcoming projects. I told her about Preserving by the Pint (which at that point was nothing more than an idea and a list of possible recipes) and she talked about Asian Pickles.

Asian Pickles spine

At that point, the book was actually mostly finished, because her publisher was trying something new with it. Instead of simply publishing the physical version, they were going to periodically release smaller ebooks, featuring approximately half of the recipes from the five main chapters.

Asian Pickles intro

I saw each of the ebooks as they came out. They were gorgeously designed, bursting with useful recipes, and made me ridiculously excited to get into the kitchen and start pickling. I made her Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon for the blog and tried a couple other things that were wonderful but just never made it into post form (it happens).

Asian Pickles water kimchi

Back in early January, I spent a solid two days reading through a xeroxed manuscript of the book, dog earring pages and trying to craft a quote for the back cover. It’s was nearly impossible to squeeze every complimentary thing I wanted to say into two sentences, but I think I managed. Happily, this blog post gives me the opportunity to gush just a little bit more.

Asian Pickles cucumber kimchi

What I find so delightful about this book is that it gives me the chance to dive into a world of pickles that had previously been veiled and mysterious. Karen starts each section (Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asia) which an introduction to each region’s unique pickle culture (truly, it makes the North American pickle tradition look puny).

Asian Pickles chutney

Once the stage is set for the flavors and techniques you’ll encounter, she leads you into the recipes. The headnotes are both entertaining and full of useful information, and the recipes themselves are clearly written but not so deeply technical that you have to read and reread to unpack the instructions.

Asian Pickles glossary

One adjustment that most North American preservers will have to make with these pickles is that for the most part, they are not safe for boiling water bath canning. Many of the pickles are ferments, which will lose both their texture and happy bacteria when heat processed. While there are others that are made with vinegar, the concentration of acid is typically not high enough to make them safe as a preserved pickle.

I do think you’ll find that the recipes make pickles delicious enough that you won’t begrudge the refrigerator space necessary to keep them.

Asian Pickles back

The final word is that I recommend this book for anyone who loves pickled things and wants to move beyond the array traditionally found in western cultures. I have a long list of things I plan on making from it and love that it has both recipes that can be made quickly and longer term projects. If you think of yourself as a homemade pickle aficionado, this book should be on your shelf.

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Giveaway: New Joy of Cooking iPad App

Joy of Cooking shelf

When it comes to large, all-in-one cookbooks, I will forever be a Joy of Cooking loyalist. It was the book from which I learned the very basics of cooking and is where I turn when I want to make banana bread or crepes, or to determine how long to roast a turkey.

JOY app

I’ve long had six editions of JOY on my shelves and late last week, I excitedly added another version to my collection. Happily, this edition doesn’t take up a lick of space and I can take it anywhere I want. It’s the brand new Joy of Cooking app!

JOY keeping and storing

The new app includes thousands of recipes and all are contained in the app (that means that you don’t need to be connected to the internet in order to access the content). You can mark recipes as favorites so that you can return to different dishes easily. You can set the app so that it prevents your device from going to sleep while you’re cooking. And it’s programmed to include substitutions, so that you can easily swap ingredients with what you currently have in your kitchen.

JOY canning etc

One of the things I love about this app is that it helps bring recipes to my attention that I’ve passed over in the print versions. Every edition of JOY has contained a preserving section, but it wasn’t until exploring the app that I started getting excited about some of the jams and pickles it contains (tart corn relish! curried apricot chutney! golden cherry tomato and ginger jam!).

JOY rhubarb juice

I’ve marked this rhubarb juice recipe to make at some point this season. I love the thought of having a few jars of pink possibility.

This week, I have five downloads from the nice folks at JOY to give away to some lucky Food in Jars readers. Though, if you can’t wait, the Joy of Cooking app is available on the Apple App Store at the discounted price of $5.99 right now (the regular price will be $9.99). It’s great deal and a fabulous resource to carry around with you.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your cookbook habits. Do you use an iPad or other tablet in the kitchen, do you drag a laptop in with you, or are you a cookbook devotee? Or is there some other method that you favor?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, May 18, 2014
  3. Giveaway open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The people behind the Joy of Cooking app gave me a free download so that I could explore the app and write about it. They are also providing the downloads for the winners. That said, I was mere moments away from buying a copy when I got the email offering me free review access. It is a great product and I’m thrilled that it’s in the world.