Cookbook Review

We worked on our Christmas cards this weekend, and it was very sad that three people on our list have died in the last year. But here’s our wreath (pinecones from our yard), and I’m listening to a very crackly copy of Elvis’s Christmas album on vinyl (somehow more authentic?) which we got for something like 50 cents in the cheap records section of one of our semi-local record stores.

I’ve been taking a lot of cookbooks out of the library, which is a great way to evaluate ones that I am interested in, so I thought I would do a few reviews. I’m especially interested in regional seasonal eating after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so a few deal with that.

Simply In Season – this book is divided into a section for each season, as well as a section for all year. So far we made two things from the Autumn section: brocolli and cheddar gratin (yum!) and sweet and sour Swiss chard (also yum, made with dried fruit and Swiss chard). It seems like a great resource if you have a garden or a CSA membership (I remember when I had a farm share I was trying to come up with yet another recipe for Butternut squash). The recipes are relatively simple and basic, but it’s a good place to get ideas for seasonally appropriate meals. And some sound really great. I am definitely getting this cookbook.

Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stores From Vermont – this is more of a traditional cookbook layout, with sections for types of food. It does have some seasonal-type meals but they aren’t labelled as such. There seem like a lot of good recipes, but we tried one tonight and it was really not much of a success: Lamb shanks with wheat berries and parsnips. We had never had lamb shanks before (lambaskankar) and they really weren’t that an appealing cut of meat. Too fatty. And the food was just kind of boring. Oh well. The cookbook may still be good, I’ll have to try other recipes from the book.

Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book – one can never have too many bread books (or at least me). This one is good because unlike the artisan bread books I already own, this one has a range of recipes, including the complicated-multple-day recipes, and quick, basic bread recipes. I made some wheat buns the other day which came out pretty well.

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers – This book is worth buying just for the baguette recipe. Seriously. It’s that good. Everything else is sourdough, and my last starter was a failure, so I have to start a new one so I can try some more recipes before the book has to go back to the library.


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