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.
Inexpensive, protein-rich, and easily cooked: the egg. The egg has been one of the most valuable foodstuffs since the Prehistoric Age. Bird eggs have been used and consumed wherever birds (mostly chickens) are domesticated. “Scrambled eggs” originated in 17th-century France. They pair well with acidic fruit juices, and “dried eggs” first developed during the 19th century and were used predominantly for soldiers in World War II. Why are they so popular? Eggs work in both sweet and savory meals, including many baked goods such as cakes and pies.
Want to make a lovely hostess gift or start a delightful family tradition? Gorgeously photographed and utterly useful, Alison Walker’s Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen has recipes that are both elegant and inspired. You can make your own Candy Canes, Marzipan, Baklava, and Cherry & Almond Biscotti. Or, go British with Turkish Delight (shades of C.S. Lewis), Rose Creams, Vanilla Caramels, and Tiffin.
Fried chicken. Cornbread. Sunday morning bacon. Apple Brown Betty. All of these delicious, home-cooked foods traditionally come out of a cast-iron skillet. At my house, we have three or four of them that have been passed down through generations. While Ellen Brown’s New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook has takes on these basic things, it opens a wider range of flavors and techniques from around the country and around the world.
Looking for new ideas for weeknight dinners? Check out Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, by Ellie Krieger.
Glorious fruit and vegetables are a hallmark of harvests, but what do you do when you want to preserve the tastes for other times? Traditionally, the answer was to “put up” or preserve these wonderful things for later, sometimes combining them creatively and adding spices. A day of canning meant piles of produce, dozens of jars, and steam filling the kitchen for hours—usually on a hot summer day. Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint presents a different way to do this wonderful, traditional cooking without such a huge commitment of time and storage space.
Did you know that you can eat milkweed? This is one of the interesting facts I learned from Ruth Reichl’s debut novel, Delicious!
At the age of 10, Billie Breslin discovered she had a gift. She is able to recreate the recipe for a cake based on her memory of the flavors she tasted in that cake. Eleven years later, Billie finds herself in New York, far from her family in California, applying for a job, not as a chef but as an administrative assistant for a food magazine, Delicious.
While at the magazine, Billie uncovers a series of letters written during World War II between a young girl, Lulu, and Mr. Beard, a former employee of the magazine and a chef. Billie becomes fascinated with them and wants to learn more about Lulu. As Billie attempts to solve the mystery of Lulu’s letters, she works on issues in her own life.
Anybody interested in DIY projects or maker culture or just getting back to basics should take a gander at the Foxfire series of books. Beginning in the late 60s and continuing on through today, a class at a rural Georgia high school decided to take a different tack at English class and create a magazine.
They had no money so the venture needed to pay for itself. As there was little market for poetry or short stories found in ordinary high school magazines, they decided to print folklore and folk ways gathered from people in their own community. It was the beginning of something amazing.
Beautiful in its design and content, Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings offers splendid ideas for entertaining year-round and to intrigue all ages. She includes not only delicious recipes for earthy yet traditional foods, but she also finds crafty ways to feature the glories of each season.