Tag Archives | Emma Christensen

Cookbooks: Modern Cider

We’re nearing the end of September, but it’s still blazingly hot and swampy here in Philadelphia. One way that I’m coping with the unseasonable weather is by pretending that it’s more like autumn outside than it actually is. To that end, I’ve been making pots of soup (though I’m choosing ones that can be eaten at room temperature for the sake of our sanity), knitting hats and hand warmers (while the air conditioning chugs), and diving into books that put me in the proper state of mind no matter how it actually feels outside.

One such book that I’ve been glancing at when the mercury soars is Emma Christensen’s new one, called Modern Cider. Emma is the queen of small batch home brewing and is also the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. You may know her work from her years as recipe editor at The Kitchn or her current gig as managing editor of Simply Recipes.

Emma is incredibly good at taking an intimidating concept or technique and making it feel approachable and appealing. I was still a novice home brewer (though my brews are still mostly confined to regular batches of kombucha), when I took a couple of the recipes from True Brews out for a test drive for Table Matters back in 2013. and she made it seem entirely doable.

If True Brews was Emma’s survey course, and Brew Better Beer was designed for the beer lover, Modern Cider is the book for anyone who has been intrigued by boozy fermentation but doesn’t consider themselves a big beer drinker. It’s for someone who wants a home brewing starting place that speaks to a wide range of experience levels. And it’s for anyone who wants to learn the science behind home brewing from a friendly, knowledgeable voice.

The first 60+ pages of the book feature cider lessons. In this initial section, you’ll learn about variations in ciders, choosing apples, crushing and sourcing (she gives you permission to use bottled juice from the store if that’s all you can manage), acidity, and the gear you’ll need to get started.

From there, the chapters are as follows: Beginner Ciders, The Cider Family, Modern Ciders, Ciders for Beer Lovers, Soft Ciders (some entirely free of alcohol!), Apple Wines, and Traditional Ciders. There’s also troubleshooting and resources sections, in case you need more guidance.

While it’s probably too early to start thinking about the holidays, if you have someone on your gift list who loves cider and has expressed interest in learning how to make it at home, this is the perfect book for them!

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Cookbooks: My Pantry, Brew Better Beer, Homemade Vegan Pantry

three book stack - Food in Jars

I have been gazing at this particular stack of three books for at least a month now. I set them on the edge of my desk sometime in early October, thinking that they made a nice little collection, and then got lost in a hurry and busy of life. Read nothing into my delay, all three of these books are worthy contenders for your eyeballs and wish lists.

cover of My Pantry by Alice Waters

Alice Waters is a woman who needs no introduction. As the founder of Chez Panisse and the author of many, many cookbooks, her influence on our culture’s understanding of food has been vast.

My Pantry is her newest volume and is relatively slim in comparison to some of her earlier works. However, as someone who takes great pleasure from making my own pantry staples, I am entirely charmed by this book. It is a trip through Alice’s favorite homemade condiments, simple soups, preserved meats, sweet preserves, and simple cheeses. It’s like a peek into her fridge and cupboards, and there’s much here that I’ve bookmarked for future days of making.

cover of Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen

I’ve never brewed beer. There are a couple things that have stopped me from trying my hand at it. First is the issue of storage (I’m already at capacity with my preserving habit). Second is the fact that my body hates it when I drink more than a few sips and tortures me with headaches if I venture beyond my paltry tolerance.

And yet, despite all that, thanks to Emma Christensen’s Brew Better Beer, I still want to give it a shot someday (I’ll just have to give most of it away, which should make me very popular with my neighbors). Her instructions are clear, the flavor combinations are hugely appealing, and I so appreciate the fact that the recipes are scaled so that you can brew your batches in either 1 or 5 gallons. If you have a burgeoning home brew enthusiast on your list this holiday season, you should get them this book.

cover of Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner

In a sea of books devoted to making pantry staples from scratch, Miyoko Schinner’s Homemade Vegan Pantry, is unique for its plant-based approach. I know several vegans who have already come to depend on this volume for the nut-based cheeses.

However, don’t think you should skip this book if you take a more omnivorous approach to your diet. There is still plenty here for you.┬áThe soup concentrates (tomato! mushroom! cream of broccoli!) alone earn this book a spot on my shelf.┬áThe crackers are pretty special as well. And I’m really curious about the flax seed meringues!

Are there any cookbooks that you guys have been enjoying lately?

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