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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Reviews

Portland in 1890Image via Wikipedia

I want to share with you two books that recently came into our ownership. Both of them are great gems that are going to make some yummy things in the near future.
The first book is a baking book called The Grand Central Baking Book by: Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson written by the owners of one of our local bakeries,
Grand Central Bakery.
We enjoy going to Grand Central for a treat every so often. Close by to the hospital in Portland is one of their locations and after bigger tests at the hospital I like to treat Issac with lunch from the bakery.
Grand Central uses good quality ingredients for all of their food focusing on fresh seasonal items all the year long. The following is from the Introduction of the book, " The bakery and family recipes in this book are designed to showcase easy to find local and seasonal ingredients with ease and elegance while offering a thoughtful balance of practical wisdom and professional expertise." After reading the book cover to cover they have lived up to their hopes in my mind.
I love Grand Central's cookies and breads.When I saw they had a baking book I was pretty excited.Although the book dose not feature their breads it dose have all of the cookies they bake along with many more items that I am wanting to try here at home.Through out the book there are lots of tips and ideas for using their recipes at home.Some recipes even feature seasonal variations to try as the fillings of pies both sweet and savory.
I have only tried their Dutch Baby Pancakes so far,which were excellent, but I am planning on trying out several more in the coming weeks.The first cookie I am going to try is their Graham Cracker Sandwich Cookies. I like the looks of this recipe,the one I have already was a disappointment but Grand Centrals look easy to do and like they will come out better. I am also saving some bread scraps to make the Bread Pudding Muffins for a weekend breakfast.Chance loves bread pudding and I thought the muffin size for breakfast would be a fun way to make it.
The second book we now have is "Preserved" by:Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton with a the foreword written by: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
From the foreword: Preserving is about intelligent home economy.It is a matter of maximizing resources,using know-how both ancient and modern to get the most out of your food. But this doesn't imply parsimony or tight-fistedness.If understood and practiced well, preserving techniques will never produce food that seems meager,mean,or bland.Instead they introduce a whole range of flavors and textures to the cook's repertoire,which are as pleasing and exciting as they are diverse. And I say AMEN! to that.
What excited us about Preserving is the whole book shows how to preserve some really great foods.This is not just a canning book,in fact there isn't much canning at all but how to preserve through drying,salting,smoking,sausages,pickling,fermenting (which is different from pickling.) sugar,alcohol,bottling/canning,air exclusion and freezing.Mixed in with the how to's are tidbits of historical information about some of the foods presented such as, the first foods to be pickled in the 16 century were onions,eggs and walnuts.Also along side the history are scientific facts about the how of some of the sections.
This book covers things like drying your own mushrooms,making fruit leather ( I love home made fruit leathers they beat the store stuff hands down.) mincemeat and false capers made from Nasturtium seed pods.And at the end of each chapter there are recipes using the items from the chapter. The recipes are very modern and from all over the globe.
The updated-ness of this book is awesome.Chance and I enjoy cooking good food and are trying to produce more on our own,I think this book is goiong to be put to good use.
In our up and coming seed order I had ordered several packets of Nasturtium seeds because I love them.I have wanted to try out making the false capers using the Nasturtium seeds but always wondered how I would ever grow enough to have the seed pods all at once.My dilemma is solved according to the book I can start a jar with vinegar,salt and an herb mix and keep it in the fridge.Then I can keep adding to the jar as I have more seed pods. We don't use a ton of capers in our cooking but I just thought the novelty of the whole project would be worth the effort.The recipe says the jar will keep for a year in the fridge.
Preserved is going to fill in some gaps to our putting more of our own food up.Chance and I both felt that this book was written for the two of us,there are recipes that appeal to both of our interests in food.Lots of meat and sauces for Chance to try out and lots of fruit and veg stuff for me.
Both books are great and I encourage you to check them out.
The rain here has been awful,muddy and drenching.I think January is the worst month of the year,the weather is WET,there is not a lot going on any where and I get a bit shack whacked (aka cabin feverish.) but we are mostly through the month and all will be well sooner or later.In the mean time I am working on indoor projects,sewing some and reading lots of books.


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