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Thursday, Mar 5, 2015
Canning is like having an investment or retirement fund in your pantry. You make small deposits over time, and there’s a huge payoff in convenience, in flavor.

Eugenia Giobbi Bone grew up in a household where good cooking was the norm. Her father, artist and cookbook author Edward Giobbi, is an avid preserver whose home-canned foods were part of the daily diet. Bone began canning when she was eight months pregnant with her second child. She recounts this experience in Well-Preserved. Published in 2009, Well-Preserved is an invaluable modern manual dedicated to small batch preservation.


Like many cooks, I am both drawn to and terrified of canning. Bone’s friendly, no-nonsense explanation of spoilers and how to prevent them quelled those fears. But it was this sentence that truly liberated my inner canner: “Cleanliness is always important. Not fanatical cleanliness, just washing-your-hands-after-riding-the-subway sort of cleanliness.”


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Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015
Jennifer McLagan loves a controversial ingredient. Her cookbooks include works on bones, fat, and the scary bits. Now it's time to get bitter.

“I need a cigar,” I said to the tobacconist. 


He gestured toward a locked cabinet. Behind its glass doors, cigars were arrayed floor to ceiling. The chocolate truffle recipe called for an inch of cigar, preferably Cuban, infused in heavy cream. Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States. I could choose a cheap cigar stinking through the glass like hell’s own aftershave, or do the bling thing and blow 30 bucks.  Aiming for middle ground, I spent $9. 


“For your husband?”  The man asked, ringing me up.


“For a recipe.”


What?


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Friday, Feb 6, 2015
Here's a man who's creating food that is entirely new, spontaneous, fresh, even wild, yet without any of the difficulty or pretension surrounding that other new food, Modernist Cuisine.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More resumes the culinary hijinks begun in Plenty, offering more of the layered, complex compositions we’ve come to expect from this beloved Israeli/English cook. In Plenty More, Ottolenghi optimizes the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean flavor palette defining his cooking, even as he reaches further eastward. He brings along the skilled cadre of personnel fans are coming to recognize: Scully Ramael, Helen Goh, Claudine Boulstridge, Alex and Tamara Meitlis, and of course, Sami Tamimi.


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Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014
Ovenly's recipes are hip, exciting, and accessible. If only they worked.

Sometimes I can’t wait to get home before opening my mail. Instead, after stopping at my Post Office box, I tear into my packages indelicately on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, trying not to appear overly animated. As all public transit regulars know, it’s essential to maintain “train face” at all times, lest you attract the attention of transit crazies. But I must have failed to keep my blasé BART face when I brought the Ovenly cookbook home. 


When I looked up from its pages, I noticed people starting. This should tell you how excited I was about the book.


At least, how excited I was at first.


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Thursday, Jun 12, 2014
The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone updates a beloved cookbook. Relax. Your favorites are all still in here.

I can’t imagine the work that went into revamping Deborah Madison’s 1997 magnum opus, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The title says it all, and despite its 740 page heft, this welcoming cookbook became the go-to manual for vegetarians and their veggie-curious friends. Now, 17 years later, Madison has revamped her masterwork. Et violà: The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.


Re-reading an old favorite was deeply enjoyable after page one and the kefir lime incident. O Proofreaders at Ten Speed Press, it is kaffir limes, not kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink commonly found in supermarkets near the yogurt. Kaffir is a type of lime, often associated with Middle Eastern cuisines. Being a publishing concern specializing in cookbooks, I suspect you know this. And hasn’t the poor lime sustained enough abuse lately?  This once-cheap fruit now costs almost $4 a pound due to extreme weather; crates are now going for as much as $30, drawing the unsavory attentions of organized crime.  The least you can do is properly name the poor fruits.


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