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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.