Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Reading List

I am easing into the Kindle revolution. More accurately I've succumbed to reading most books and magazines on my iPad. It hasn't been easy but my back enjoys the lightened load in my bag. 

Cookbooks are another story. I appreciate the weight of them. More than that I like splattering grease all over the pages. So, instead of clearing shelves and edging toward a new digital clean, I keep amassing more. I can't stop myself. There are so many great food books out there. And they keep coming! Here are a few I'm especially digging right now.

For your own guilty pleasure...
Masala Farm by Suvir Saran
Shout out to my fellow Upstate New Yorkers: buy this book now, unless you are on my Christmas shopping list in which case you will probably be receiving this book as a gift. Sorry to spoil the surprise.

Suvir Saran is my new hero. I might be a little biased here by the whole Indian chef moves Upstate from Manhattan to raise goats and heirloom chickens, cook seasonally, and give back to the community. Masala Farm reads with the ease of a well written novel and has tons of local relevance to the Saratoga Springs-Salem-Battenkill area. Perhaps most thrilling, the book features eastern Upstate NY in a uniquely bountiful and inspiring light without ignoring the social and economic woes that are still very real there. It's bursting with beautiful photos of good food and the fields and animals that provide it. The recipes are unique, running the gamut from Ginger-Soy Fresh Ham with Roasted Garlic to Chaat Masala Fries and Pakoras and to Upstate Apple Butter. The flavor spectrum here is vast but the recipes are totally accessible, like this Chunky Eggplant Dip I made for the 4th of July...
Yummy Roasted Chunky Eggplant Dip from Saran's Masala Farm Cook Book
The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant
Who makes canning sexy? Paul Virant, that's who. Following my success with Balsamic Strawberry Jam with Cracked Pepper, I ventured beyond the pages of Better Homes and Gardens to this gem. Seriously, if a giant pot of boiling water and a few dozen Ball canning jars doesn't get your heart racing, it will after you flip through this book. Grilled and Pickled Hot Peppers, Cherry Mostarda, and Pear and Vanilla Aigre-Doux are all on my agenda. Better still, the entire second half of this book is devoted to recipes featuring the items you preserved in the first half. Brilliant!
Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables by John Peterson
This is technically out of print but looks to still have a few copies. Farmer John just happens to be the man behind Angelic Organics, the farm where we get our summer CSA vegetable share. His organic vegetables are a true summer treat to behold and this book is invaluable when you just don't know what to do with all that rutabaga, or the third bunch of beets. 

and one to share with the kids...
Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters
If you cook at all with your children, or you take them to restaurants, or you have seen them eat food, you need this book. Originally released in 1992, the story of Alice Waters's daughter, Fanny, and her adventures at Berkeley's legendary Chez Panisse restaurant, is as relevant today as it was twenty years ago. This is the rare book that the kids request repeatedly and I never tire of reading. It is a literal and visual celebration of fresh, flavor-packed, nutrient-rich foods and the many interesting characters who make it all possible. The book includes 46 recipes for real cupcake chickens or smiley face pancakes here (though I have a soft spot in my heart for those as well). This is real food, for real people, that kids can relate to.

So that begs the question, what are your favorite cookbooks? 

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