|Holiday Season in the Woods|
Ideas by Robin and Friends
'Tis the gift-giving season, and cookbooks make fun and practical prezzies for seasoned chefs as well as folks just starting out on their own. I still have the rather bedraggled copy of Joy of Cooking given to me by an employer circa 1982. I had wrapped up a copy for my then-boyfriend (who liked cooking) with a sigh, “it’s the best cookbook ever!” My employer overheard me and made me a happy camper by surprising me with the same gift. Of course, it’s a bit more risky to pick out a book for someone with an established cookbook collection. If you can’t check their bookshelves personally, and haven’t heard a hint about a book they’d like, try giving a bookstore gift certificate tied to an apron, silicone spatula set, metal BBQ spatula, or other kitchen gadget.
of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Not only was this
my first serious cookbook, “Joy” was top vote-getter among the suggestions on
Facebook. Steve calls it the bible…and I agree. It contains basic instructions
for cooking just about anything. I prefer the 1975
edition though I understand the All-new
Update is almost as popular. Readers might also enjoy Stand
Facing the Stove, the fascinating story of how this cookbook got published
in the first place—against all odds!
by the Seasons: Simple Vegetarian Feasts, by Karri Ann Allrich. I turn to
this book time and again because every recipe is exceptionally delicious and
many can be prepared in under an hour. Each season has its selection of
beverages, appetizers, soups, main dishes, sides, and desserts, along with a
bit of reference for Celtic seasonal celebrations. There’s also a section on
stocking a “Goddess’ pantry.”
by Moonlight: A Witch’s Guide to Culinary Magic, also by Karri Ann Allrich.
My favorite of favorite cookbooks, full of exceptional recipes just like Ms.
Allrich’s “Cooking by the Seasons.” Besides recipes there are sections on
Developing Seasonal Food Intuition, Love Foods and Practical Magic, and
Stocking a Moonlit Pantry. Each moon (month) of the year has its own set of menus
and recipes, and all are delicious.
from a Kitchen Garden and More
Recipes from a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd & Fran Raboff. I pledge
to blog more of these recipes by local Santa Cruzans Fran and Renee during the
next year. Organized alphabetically by veggies typically grown in family
gardens, the recipes are super-delicious, but often require significant prep
time and a number of ingredients. Both cookbooks have sections on edible flowers
as well as vegetables, and “More Recipes” has a separate salad and dressing
section. Tuscan Pizza, Island Sin Salad, Butternut Gnocchi with Sage Butter,
Creamy Calendula Soufflé, and Pumpkin Cobbler could well make their way into
Midwest Gardener’s Cookbook by Marian K. Towne. Good, simple food made with garden produce,
seasonal fruits, harvested nuts, and ingredients commonly found in the kitchen.
Organized by season, cultivation and general use tips for each veggie are
included with the recipes. More of these recipes will make their way into
future posts. Carrot Potato Burgers, Four Bean Salad, Spanakopita, and Cornish
Pasties are intriguing possibilities. And where else could one find recipes for
Elderflower Cocktail, Dolmades with Homegrown Grape Leaves, and Violet Flavored
Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Restaurant and Field
of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from Greens Restaurant by Annie
Sommerville. “Greens” is the original book, and “Field of Greens” the update
with lighter recipes. Both feature recipes from Greens
Restaurant, arguably the first West Coast restaurant to elevate vegetarian
cuisine from tasting healthy to tasting sensational (1979). Both books have a
pleasing combination of easy and more complicated recipes, unlike many restaurant cookbooks.
from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables by Andrea
Chesman. All seasonal cooks know that winter is the toughest time to come up
with creative recipes. I added this book to my collection last winter, have blogged
at least 4 recipes already, and am ready to continue exploring. Spicy Turnip
Stir-fry, Festive Fruity Coleslaw, Tortellini with Kale, Chicken Pot Pie with
Sweet Potato Biscuits…I can open the book to just about any page and find an
intriguing idea. Everything that I’ve tried has been delicious and surprisingly
easy to prepare. Highly recommended!
Art of Simple Foods: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
by Alice Waters. Long-time seasonal chef and local foods advocate’s latest
cookbook shows us how to master basic cooking techniques for maximum flavor and
freshness, then leads us into a more traditional index of recipes. She gives
hints for how to vary/improvise each recipe. A good mixture of easy and
more complex recipes. Of course, Ms. Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse have long been celebrated
Top Ten Seasonal Cookbooks
Here are 10 cookbooks that I like to use, several of which are also recommended by my Facebook friends and fans.
|Joy's Often Needed at My House|
Joy of Cooking Recipes:
Easy Stir & Roll Piecrust (with Blackberry Pie)
|Potluck Favorite: Apple Cake|
Cooking by the Seasons Recipes:
|Southwest Three Sisters Stew: Beans, Squash, and Corn|
Cooking by Moonlight Recipes:
Feasts for All Seasons by Roy Andries de Groot. A lesser-known old-school classic, this 1966 volume focuses on cooking like an everyday gourmet. Organized by season, and with both “during the week” and celebratory recipes, this book also contains information on choosing ingredients and planning party menus. Seasonal fish and meats as well as produce are covered. Though many of the recipes are time-consuming, a creative cook can make alterations to trim the time. The menus and recipes celebrate holidays of many ethnic and religious groups.
Feasts for All Seasons Recipes:
Cream of Pumpkin Soup coming soon!
|Simple Recipe adds Zing to Salad|
Recipes & More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden recipes:
Parsley Pesto with Baked Potatoes coming soon!
|Midwest Preserve Recipes for Gift Giving|
Midwest Gardener’s Cookbook recipes:
Pennsylvania Dutch Hot Potato Salad coming soon!
|Tangerines in Winter Salad|
Field of Greens recipes:
|Root Veggies Never Looked Better|
9. The Moosewood Cookbook: Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant by Mollie Katzen. I’d forgotten this classic till Lynn reminded me of it. I need to get it onto my cookbook shelf pronto. A former roommate owned it, and we made some fantastic vegetarian meals with wholesome ingredients back in the day. I’m particularly recalling a salad of lightly steamed green beans and carrots tossed with a lemony dressing.
|Classic (American) Greek Salad|
Art of Simple Foods recipes:
These cookbooks were suggested by my Facebook friends and Seasonal Eating fans. I haven’t seen most of these, so will be checking them out in the New Year.
1. The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukins. Recommended by my culinary superstar cousin Elizabeth. “Very 1970s but toothsome recipes,” according to Elizabeth, this book is rated 4.5 stars with 120 ratings on Amazon. One reviewer says it’s as relevant today as it was when published, uses fresh ingredients and basic cooking techniques, and that she has cooked just about every recipe in the book successfully. Sounds like a winner!
2. California Fresh: A Seasonal Journey through Northern California by Junior League of Oakland-East Bay. Obviously written mostly for Californians, my friend Irene says this is “so pretty that it almost could be a coffee table book but every recipe that I have made has turned out perfectly.” The book contains recipes, menus, in-depth descriptions and tips for handling various Northern California seasonal specialties. Irene’s favorite recipes: Asparagus with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Roasted Chicken with Ricotta & Herbs, Curry-Poached Prawns with Cucumber Noodles and Caper Lemon Brussels sprouts.” Go ahead and add this one to my Christmas list!
3. The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes, and Down-Home Barbecue by Christopher Schlesinger and John Willoughby. Friend and frequent dinner host James recommends this because he likes to grill and the authors emphasize using fresh and seasonal ingredients. The book has been reviewed as a unique blend of exotic spices, American favorites, humor, and infectious enthusiasm. Favorite recipes include Caribbean Style Grilled Seafood Soup, Grilled Zucchini with Thyme, Red Onions with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar, and East Coast Lemonade. I think my husband (the family griller) would like this book.
4. In Season: Cooking with Vegetables and Fruit by Sarah Raven. Suggested by Mel, this book is divided into two-month sections of seasonal produce, with each section highlighting 5 – 15 foods with both vegetarian and meat recipes. The author is a gardener and locavore. The list of recipes on Amazon looks appealing: Cranberry Bean Hummus, Squid, Pea, and Chorizo Stew, Spaghetti with Green Beans and Tomatoes, Pears Poached in Saffron Syrup, and Basil Custard. Definitely going to check this one out.
5. The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. We began with one bible, so it’s fitting to end with another. Monique suggested this cookbook, and while it’s not entirely seasonal, every day is someone’s birthday, graduation, or retirement, and an occasion for cake. Every cake imaginable is carefully detailed, including wedding cake. Be prepared to weigh your ingredients and use plenty of butter and eggs for outstanding results. I’ve borrowed this book from the library, and the Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake can’t be beat, if you’re into that sort of thing. I had no idea that so many different kinds of cakes can be made.
Thanks all who made suggestions, and sorry that I’m unable to research and report on all titles. Please leave a comment if we’ve left out your favorite, and be sure to tell us why you like it. Enjoy the season, and consider giving someone a cookbook—or asking for one for yourself!
|Potluck Success: Pineapple Ginger Cake from Cooking by Moonlight|