I just canned my first batch of the season and am excited for many more as the season’s bounty progresses. I couldn’t resist all the asparagus at the farmer’s market and bought 14 lbs. I then promptly went home and started poring through all of my cookbooks to find just the right recipe and then kind of combined them all a wee bit so we will see how it turns out in 6 months! Two of my favorite canning books are by Karen Solomon: Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It and Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. I love that between the two you can learn everything from making your own crackers, corn flakes, soda pop, beef jerky, marshmallows, vinegars, cheese and of course so many amazing canning recipes. There are mouth watering photos and not an overwhelming quantity of recipes but rather a splendid range of do it yourself food projects organized and well explained. I have to admit that now I feel like I know this secret about a few items that I never thought to make myself but dang they are just so easy and cheap to whip up at home. A few of the recipes have even become staples in our house like the kimchee, marmalade, granola and more. Between the two books you can learn how to even make your own bacon, pasta and infused oils.
If you have spent anytime in the cookbook section with me, I have likely shown you World Food Cafe by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott and yes, I really do own every cookbook they have written. I may also have shown you what I made last night, or the week before and every recipe makes up for any lack of world cuisine you might think exists here in the Palouse. I have learned so much about spices and world flavors from their books and the stunning photos give you a moment of bliss in imagining yourself there. I have to say that these are the recipes I turn to when I want a show stopping meal to serve to guests that I can whip up easily without much time at all. If you are cooking for one or two people then you might consider cutting the recipes in half though as they tend to be written for a group. The pages of my copy are stained and certain pages automatically open right up to showcase a recipe I cook over and over again. I love the use of lots of fresh vegetables and many of the recipes include a side recipe for some sort of spicy relish or harissa to add heat for those that like it. One recipe in particular, which includes sweet potatoes, corn, peas, spinach and cardamon, my kids refer to as having dessert for dinner because it is so sweet and enticing. Okay so my mouth is already watering and I hope yours is too!
When college students, new cooks or busy parents ask for an easy recipe book that will help them eat healthier I am able to point them to Moosewood Restaurant’s Simple Suppers without pausing. The recipes are simple to make, perfect for busy weeknights, often one pot and have a minimum amount of ingredients but like all of Moosewood’s recipes the outcome is healthy, delicious and wholesome with a wonderful variety of flavors. This cookbook contains one of my family’s favorites, which reminds me I will be making some Thai Butternut Squash Soup soon which we always serve with the Coconut Rice, which my kids lovingly refer to as sunshine rice. Photos are a must for me for cookbooks and I can’t help but itch to cook just flipping through this one. I also really like the suggestions in the back for staples you will want to have in your cupboard and fridge and it also has a wonderful “guide to ingredients, tools and techniques” in the back.
Last but not least, I can’t review cookbooks without talking about eating with food allergies and celiacs. I am not able to eat any gluten, dairy or eggs and so this makes cookbook shopping even more selective. When I first walked into the Flying Apron in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, I nearly ordered one of everything. Everything they make is gluten-free and vegan and happily for all of us, they have a cookbook and a new cafe in Redmond, Washington. The original owner of the cafe, Jennifer Katzinger has now written two cookbooks Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book and Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays: Celebrating the Year with simple, Satisfying Recipes and Menus with a third one out in the fall called Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread: Artisanal Recipes to Make at Home. I love that the recipes create baked goods that everyone will savor and enjoy and they don’t taste “allergy free.” Whether you fall for the savory pies or the macaroons, you will find some classic baking staples and new favorites in these collections and a cooking artist who has clearly found the perfect combination of ingredients to make allergy friendly baking and cooking taste so good no one will know the difference!!! Since I cook for three other people who don’t have my allergies, this factor is very important since I want to cook things I can eat too!