Food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier writes about French cuisine and fresh farmers market ingredients. She begins each season-themed chapter with a brief look at the different fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you might find at your local market or in your garden. She then provides fifteen to twenty recipes that use them, ranging from simple appetizers and salads to soups, preserves both sweet and savory, and heartier dishes.
Why I picked it up: I've been reading her blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, for years. And I wanted to try both refreshing my diet and eating less meat, so this book looked like the perfect fit.
Why I finished it: Whenever I peruse a new cookbook, I like to try three recipes to see if I want to keep going through the book looking for more. I also like to try the simpler, quicker recipes so I don't feel like I'm wasting time, money, and food. Without trying too hard, I found three great recipes from the winter chapter (savory puffs, grated carrot and beet salad with bulgur and figs, and curried leek tart tatin) that my wife and I really liked and would easily make again.
It’s perfect for: My friend Jackie, who is much more serious and consistent about her vegetarian diet than I am. She's not big into cooking lavish meals or spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and she told me she really liked this cookbook (I already gave it to her) for its (mostly) quick recipes. She also confessed that she really liked the large number of desserts, especially the dark chocolate mousse.
The skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in this essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables.
In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke.
Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables.
Don't miss a special appearance by Cara Mangini on the What’s Cooking @ ALA Demonstration Stage on Sunday, June 26, at 3:30 p.m.
At thirty, Nina MacLaughlin had grown weary of her position as an online editor at The Boston Phoenix. On a whim she answered a Craigslist ad for a job as an apprentice carpenter (no experience necessary). Hammer Head traces MacLaughlin's journey from ignorance to competence under the firm but forgiving hand of her boss, Mary, a no-nonsense carpenter. Readers will come away with a better appreciation of the bones within their own homes and the skills of the people who build and repair them.
Why I picked it up: I read this on the way to my second weeklong mission trip doing construction and repair with Appalachia Service Project in West Virginia. I wanted to get back in the mindset of women who wear work boots.
Why I finished it: The book has a great rhythm. MacLaughlin focuses each chapter on a particular tool, naturally weaving a bit of its history into the narrative of her apprenticeship. I already knew many of the skills and tricks she was learning, but the sociological history was a nice bonus.
It's perfect for: People who liked the idea of Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft but (like me) found it too esoteric. Personally, I'm giving it to my friend Sarah, who went from business-school adjunct professor to hardcore gym instructor. She'd appreciate the physicality of the story: the strained muscles, the tangible progress, and the sensuality of hard work.
“Gorgeous. . . . A treat even if you don’t feel like cooking.” —The New York Times
Savor is a stunning cookbook that celebrates rustic good food made from natural ingredients.
Experiencing the bounty of nature is one of life’s great joys: foraging, gardening, fishing, and, ultimately, cooking casual meals, whether indoors or outside over an open fire. From her home in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado, Ilona Oppenheim devises recipes that make the best use of the abundance of her surroundings: foraged mushrooms and berries, fresh-caught fish, pasture-raised dairy, and home-milled flours. Oppenheim’s recipes rely on quality ingredients and simple cooking techniques to make nutritious, family-centric dishes, including Kale and Feta Quiche, Ricotta and Roasted Fig Bruschetta, Vegetable Soup with Mini Meatballs, Porcini Fettuccine, Tomato Tart, Oatmeal Baked Apples, and Pear Crisp, among others. Many of these recipes call for only a handful of ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are easy to make and fresh, wholesome, and delicious too.
This romantic and delicious portrayal of living in harmony with nature will appeal to gardeners, gatherers, foragers, and home cooks but will also transport the armchair reader straight to the forest. The natural beauty of mountains, valleys, streams, and vast swaths of land jumps out from these stunning pages.
Express yourself and create cool, personal designs on your stuff using stencils, spray paint, fabric paint, markers, and more.
Why I picked it up: So many craft books are super-cute and suburban. It was great to find something with a DIY punk aesthetic.
Why I finished it: The emphasis on creating something of your own rather than making a perfect copy was refreshing. There are "Freestyle Space" pages left open for planning out your own design before you start a project.
Part cookbook, part how-to guide, Food Swap features more than 80 recipes for artisanal items that will be coveted at food swaps and adored as gifts, including everything from salted caramel sauce and Meyer lemon curd to green tomato salsa, lavender shortbread, cultured butter, apricot jalapeño jelly, and rum vanilla extract. You’ll also find creative ways to irresistibly package your items, plus perforated gift tags ready for personalization. Finally, author Emily Paster — co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, one of the biggest in the world — offers guidance on setting up a food swap in your own community, as well as inspiring stories from people who are part of this growing movement.
Don't miss a special appearance by Emily Paster on the What’s Cooking @ ALA Demonstration Stage on Sunday, June 26, at 11:30 a.m.
The authors start with a couple of pages about the origins of Halloween, and how the Irish tradition of carving lanterns out of turnips became the familiar jack-o-lantern thanks to pumpkins. Then they dive into extreme pumpkin carving, a relief carving style that could be used on a rounded block of wood. There are tips for selecting thick-walled squashes and using spray lacquers to preserve carved gourds. (Hood and Williams even suggest artificial pumpkins be used if one wants a permanent work of art.) The first section of the chapter on carving techniques focuses on common kitchen knives while the second shows how to achieve the same effects with gougers, chisels, and other woodworking tools. (I was surprised they didn’t give instructions on how to put a pumpkin in a lathe!) The gallery of great, sometimes gargantuan carved gourds (some weighing over 500 pounds) features portraits of grotesque ogres and weathered wise men (think of Gandalf the Grey). (One of the artists whose work is in the gallery is Russ Leno. You can watch him carve a seal pumpkin for the Seattle Aquarium.) Hood and Williams depict entire scenes of terror on the largest of pumpkins, and they close the book with a selection of sketches to inspire readers.
Why I picked it up: I was looking for Halloween books at my local library and with a title like that I couldn't resist.
Why I finished it: Compared to the snaggle-toothed goblins that I hacked out as a kid, this was a very sculptural approach to pumpkin carving. I was fascinated by the authors' novel approach to this traditional craft. I was very surprised that Hood and Williams don't want carvers to hollow out the pumpkins. (They keep longer this way.) I'll be copying their techniques for imagining a finished jack-o-lantern on paper, transferring the image to a pumpkin’s surface, and carving away. But unlike them I'll be putting lights inside.
It’s perfect for: My science fiction book club pal Adam. His pre-Halloween parties feature jack-o-lantern carving contests. He leaves the completed pumpkins strung up in front of his house with lights, and is happy to report that having thirty or so of these deters some trick-or-treaters.
Create your dream yarn! Discover the pleasures of designing and building custom-made yarn by spinning it yourself, choosing everything from color to feel and gauge. Jillian Moreno leads you through every step of yarn construction, with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos showing you how to select the fiber you want (wool, cotton, silk, synthetic), establish a foundation, and spin a beautiful yarn with the structure, texture, and color pattern that you want. In addition to teaching you the techniques you need for success, Moreno also offers 12 delicious original patterns from prominent designers, each one showcasing hand-spun yarns.
Recipes from presidents, army cooks, school lunch programs, and even "Aunt Sammy," the wife of Uncle Sam and a host of her own radio cooking show, illustrated with inspirational wartime posters and historic photographs.
Why I picked it up: I flipped it open to a recipe from a World War I pamphlet called “Sweets Without Sugar” that was loaded with corn syrup. (It wasn't created to promote health, it was intended to save granulated sugar for soldiers overseas.)
Why I finished it: The recipes are often delightfully impractical for the modern cook. How about baking 100 school-lunch biscuits with four pounds of flour and 1 pound ten ounces of fat? Or try tea bread made with two cups of hard-to-find barley flour? This isn't nostalgia, this is no-holds-barred history!
Watchalikes: On The Supersizers Go, the hosts eat their way through eras of British food in a way that is funny, educational, and disgusting. In the reality show 1940s House, a mom tries desperately to keep her family fed on a re-creation of rationed 1940s food.