Upon first glancing at Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, I very nearly put it aside to be reshelved. It was too beautiful. Huge and heavy--laden with photographs--and featuring a cover shot of something that looked as though it took a heck of a lot of time, money and energy to pull off, it didn’t seem like something that would work for me.
But first glances can be deceiving. Almost every recipe involves relatively normal if delicious ingredients. The techniques used are not difficult at all for someone who knows her way around a basic kitchen. These are the sort of recipes which will be made again and again--and be shared with demanding friends. Each is introduced very charmingly, in a way that conveys much about the author’s French experiences.
When one thinks about the U.S. Civil War, or the War Between the States, one does not come up with images of food and recipes. Rather, it is the exact opposite: we think about hunger and even starvation. But the truth is, some of the most creative recipes are invented at times when the basic food elements are scarce.
It's Maggie's favorite day of the year in Wende and Harry Devlin's Cranberry Thanksgiving. She and her grandmother live on a New England cranberry farm. It's lonely and cold at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving the house is warm with lots of good cooking. As part of their family tradition, Maggie and Grandma have each invited someone who otherwise would have to spend Thanksgiving alone.
Kids have a big advantage when it comes to picking strawberries because they grow close to the ground. With just a little know-how, you can be a berry good berry picker.
Tips for picking terrific berries:
- Break the stem about a half an inch from the top of the berry.
- Don't pick berries that are mushy-soft, nibbled on by insects or birds, green or pink
- Don't pile your berries in a big bucket. Strawberries are heavy and have delicate skins. They can get bruised if they are piled thick, one on top of another.
- Keep your berries cool, either in the shade or the refrigerator.
- Don't wash them until you are ready to use them.
- If you are going to eat your strawberries right away, you can go picking any time.
- If you need your berries to last for longer, try to pick in the morning or in the early evening when it's cooler.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen so you don't become red as a berry yourself.
Strawberries taste wonderfully good and are high in vitamin C, which helps your body heal, resist infections, and keeps your bones, gums, and teeth healthy. There are lots of ways to enjoy strawberries: in muffins, jam, salad, salsa, and simply by themselves.
Slow cookers make everyday and special event cooking so much easier that they justify their place among your kitchen gadgets. Plus, slow cookers come in a variety of sizes, from one quart to six quarts. Get the size that suits most of your needs or go ahead and get both. Two slow cookers can produce a memorable meal for a party. For example, a smaller one is perfect for seafood dip or fondue while a larger one supplies barbeque beef for sandwiches or coq au vin. Whichever model(s) you choose, it’s good to have the slow-cooker option for less stress and more flavorful food.
I liked this book so much I put it on my Amazon.com wish list. (Use Amazon's "Look Inside" feature for a peek at the book.)
It's always a challenge to come up with new and interesting recipes that are quick, easy, and healthy. So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger is a great resource for fast, nutritious meals, and I can see myself going back again and again to try new recipes or make a favorite. In this clip, featuring some of the recipes from her book, Ellie explains how a pantry stocked with some of her favorite basic ingredients can make a healthy, delicious, quick meal "so easy."
I'm familiar with Ellie Krieger through her "The Good Life" column which appears in each issue of Fine Cooking. I've never seen her Food Network show called "Healthy Appetite," but I'm sure it's good. I love that Ellie embraces the "lusciousness" of food and the enjoyment of eating foremost while gracefully incorporating a nutritonal approach to cooking.
Three authors wrote notable books on eating in lean times: MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Patience Gray. Fisher and David wrote during and just after the war, respectively. Gray wrote about places where food was scarce at certain times of the year. They all offer sage advice and write well.
Gary Soto came from a hard background by anyone's reckoning. His young father died in an industrial accident when Gary was only five years old. His Mexican-American family was struggling and lived in a tough neighborhood--next to a junkyard and across from a pickle factory. All through school, he and his family worked at whatever jobs they could get, including picking fruits as migrant laborers.
C. S. Lewis spent his first years at the family home, called Little Lea, in Belfast, Ireland. He was never really called C. S. or even Clive (C. S. stands for Clive Staples). This young man wanted to be called Jack. Like another college professor (Indiana Jones), Jack nicknamed himself after his beloved dog, Jacksie, who died when the author was quite young. His friends called him "Plain Jack Lewis," and it suited him. He was not especially handsome, but he was kind and bluff and came to have many friends.
This is the recipe I always use. Good.
Cream 1/2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar, add 2 eggs well beaten, 3/4 cup cold water, 2 heaping teaspoonfuls yeast powder, enough flour to make a stiff batter. Flavor with vanilla. Drop on well greased pans and bake in a moderately quick oven.*
This takes about 1 pt flour.
This recipe comes from a fascinating little book, Annie Flora Myer, Confederate Daughter of Fredericksburg: Recipes and Remedies in Her Own Hand, edited by her great grandniece Anne Ligon. It is available for reserve and check out through the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.