The farmer's market beckons us with spring's arugula, peas, and asparagus and continues its siren call until the fall's first frost. We return with bags overflowing with berries, new potatoes, sugar snap peas, and herbs to plant in the garden. Of course there are tried-and-true recipes that we fall back on each year to use up the produce, but new inspiration is always welcome. Southern Living's Farmer's Market Cookbook is a great resource for "celebrat[ing] the seasons with fresh-from-the-farm recipes."
The arts of food preservation go back to civilization's beginnings. In ancient Mesopotamia, families saved their produce for lean times. They dried dates, apples and figs. Their meat might be smoked, dried, or salted meat. Softer fruits could be preserved in honey. Now we have cane sugar, pressure cookers, refrigeration, packaged pectin, and so much more to make the process easier. Preserves and pickles have gone gourmet and exotic with exciting flavor combinations to enjoy and share with others.
“The sharper your knife, the less you cry.”
Chefs dominate the cooking industry; the big ones have TV shows, cookbooks, their own magazines. Because of them, there are cooking shows for every taste and better produce in your local market. Here is a selection of notable memoirs; two of the authors uplifted home cooking in America.
Memories of special holiday cooking can be life-long treasures. You’ll find many choices in Sharon Bowers’ Sweet Christmas. It’s a collection of tried and true Christmas classics to make for and with your family and friends.
Having grown up in the South, the author naturally includes a number of Southern specialties: Divinity (don’t try it on a humid day); Pecan Pralines; and Pamelas—orange peel that has been cooked, lightly sugared, and perhaps given a dip of good quality chocolate.
If you’ve wanted to turn your diet around to something healthier and cook at home more often, Dr. Weil has written a cookbook that may interest you. As a basis for Fast Food, Good Food, he uses the Mediterranean Diet and then adds in some Asian flavors.
You know it’s a Southern slow cooker book when recipes may call for the ingredients to be first kissed by a cast-iron skillet. Heirloom and well-loved vegetables, such as pole beans and sweet potatoes and kale, are a part of the package, along with Smokey Navy Bean Soup (with cornbread), Creamy Cheese Grits, Shrimp Creole, and Carolina-style BBQ—its sauce from scratch, not a bottle.
I'm not a great cook, and I don't have a lot of time to cook. But I love, love, love browsing cookbooks! Here are some of our recently acquired cookbooks that have the one thing I require: great photos. I may never make any of the recipes, but, thanks to these cookbook authors and their photographers, I've spent quality time salivating over the photos.
In honor of American Craft Beer Week (May 11-18), raise a pint at one our area’s local breweries, enjoy a draft in your favorite pub or tavern, or just pick up a six-pack to take home. Beer and pizza, beer and good times with friends, beer and backyard barbeques—there are virtually no wrong ways to enjoy a brew. Just don’t overdo it! Be sure to imbibe responsibly.
When author Ashley Rodriguez and her husband realized that most of their evenings at home were spent either staring at the computer or TV screens, eating different versions of takeout, and nonstop child-rearing, they decided to mix up the normal routine with a once-a-week date night for themselves. Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Renew Your Relationship contains delightful and romantic recipes that you and your significant other can create together, carving out that alone time to cook, talk, and rekindle an intimate relationship.
One of the food trends with the strongest staying power has to be vegetarianism, or at least dishes that are unabashed in their embrace of vegetables, grains, and fruits. Before “Farm to Table” was a thing, we still had farmers’ markets, and cooks would take advantage of them and their own backyard gardens to serve meals with fresh, seasonal ingredients.