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Monday, Jun 11, 2012
What can happen in a 45-year-old, 80 square-foot kitchen? At the hands of master canner, Marisa McClellan, magic.

When you admit to acquaintances that you can food, they either are filled with admiration, think you crazy, or a bit of both.


But canning, like many other slightly faded domestic arts, has made a huge comeback, appealing to do-it-yourselfers, end-of-days folks, artisanal foodies, and cooks interested in preserving the glories of summer fruits and vegetables. Nor should we forget the cooks who never ceased canning: Mormons, whose religious beliefs include extensive food storage, or people like my husband’s aunt, who tends an enormous garden and cans the results, thus spending far less at the market. 


Yes, high-quality, commerically canned food is readily available, but home-canned fruits, vegetables,  pickles, and fish (yes, fish) are far better than anything off a supermarket shelf. There’s the added advantage of knowing exactly what went into your jar—ideally, fresh organic food. Think of this in January as you eat pasta sauce made from organic Roma tomatoes you spent a sweaty August weekend canning, or as you tuck marinated red peppers and goat cheese into a midweek luncheon sandwich.


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Friday, May 25, 2012
Even the most timid cook, possessed of the most rudimentary kitchen, will benefit from Seductions of Rice. Read it and allow yourself to be enthralled. Then get cooking. (Hands holding rice. Image from Shutterstock.com)

“In both cities where I live—San Francisco and Paris—robust Asian communities have seductive markets offering such enticing ingredients it’s impossible for a curious cook to remain stubbornly, foolishly Western.”
—David Tanis, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes



Prior to their 2009 divorce, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid collaborated on six cookbooks, glorious combinations of recipes, travelogues, history, and foodways. Both talented photographers, they shot on site, in markets, villages, farms, and side streets, creating exquisitely designed books. Together and apart, they had the ability to befriend total strangers and get invited into homes, where their requests to learn authentic dishes were granted. While the authors and their two sons are a presence in the texts, they opt for a narrative rather than central role. Instead, we see the peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean, their homes, their kitchens, their cookware, their food.


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Monday, May 7, 2012
You might not have enough good southernly light coming through a kitchen window to nourish a twig of basil. You might not even have a kitchen window. But you might have an empty lot in your neighborhood, and that's where authors Willow Rosenthal and Novella Carpenter can help city dwellers like you grow their own food.

“This is the book we wished we had when we first started out, a how-to manual that speaks directly to farmers trying to grow food and raise animals in the city.”
—From the Introduction


Any urban dweller who has ever wished to garden, turn a lawn into a vegetable patch, or create an urban farm on an empty lot is well advised to reach for Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal’s The Essential Urban Farmer. After successfully learning urban farming techniques via trial and error, the authors were besieged by calls and emails from flummoxed would-be farmers. In response, they created this comprehensive manual, offering a cornucopia of information about urban organic farming, firmly grounded in a do-it-yourself ethos. Throughout, the novice farmer is gently taken by the hand and lead into the complex world of urban farming.


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Thursday, Feb 16, 2012
by Jessica Gelt - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Culinary perfection is not the point of DeCaro’s recent book, which features more than 145 recipes from as many deceased celebrities. Helping a new generation of pop-culture fans rediscover them and their work is his goal.

LOS ANGELES — Frank DeCaro, the author of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, is contemplating a bite of Greer Garson’s capirotada.


Dressed in a red-and-white checked shirt and a red apron with one red and one black oven mitt by his side, the former Daily Show film critic and Sirius Radio talk show host looks somewhat befuddled. He pushes his thick, black-rimmed glasses up on his nose and chews slowly.


The dish by the Oscar-winning star of the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver is a strangely archaic mix of white bread, Colby cheese, raisins and sugar-cinnamon syrup. DeCaro baked it alongside a tray of Katharine Hepburn’s brownies until it puffed into a mass of gooey cheese and gloppy bread that is reminding him of one of his favorite TV-show episodes.


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