Archives for posts with tag: book review

I’m so excited about this new book Radical Mycology, the literary embodiment of an inspiring website.

Here’s a fantastic and quite tantalising glimpse into the book from the great teachers at Milkwood Permaculture . I really appreciate all the photos of pages inside the book, especially the ones of the impressive Table of Contents.

Have a listen to Peter McCoy and get yourself inspired.  I certainly am.  I don’t know how to have the time to take on a major new interest, but if I find it, this will be it.

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A fun perk of blogging is requesting books I know I’m going to love, like Kimchi: Essential Recipes of the Korean Kitchen.  Authors Im Kee Sun, Im Boo Mee Ja, Lim Byung-Soon and Lim Byung-Hi are a family of Korean women living in Stockholm where they run a much loved restaurant called Arirang.  Short of dining there -though looking at photos in their book, how you’ll wish to! – you can buy this fantastic guide and create your own tantalising Kimchi, to eat as umami accompaniments or integrated into seasonal dishes including soups, pancakes, dumplings, cocktails (!) and more.

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OK, it’s true, I’m among those cookbook lovers who pour through end-of-year lists proclaiming which ones are best and most warrant giving as gifts to loved ones. They all repeat each other, those lists! And while I sometimes agree (yes, Mamushka is wonderful), there are books that somehow got off the radar and really deserve attention at this point in the marketing cycle (which, let’s be real, is what these lists are about).  So with 9-days-to-go, and despite my bah-humbug, anti-materialist spirit, I’m hopping on the bandwagon.

The Groundnut Cookbook is a book to judge by its cover, based on its lush, colourful front and back, illustrated by one of its authors, Duval Timothy.  (I’ve fantasized actually about curtains, wallpaper and poster prints in this vibrant, sumptuous pattern, that’s how beautiful I find it.)

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Pouring through the marvellous Groundnut Cookbook, I found a scratch to my long-time Horchata itch.   Here they’d offered a Nigerian recipe for a Tiger Nut Milk called Kunnu which is similarly delicious, filling and refreshing..

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I requested a review copy of April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden as I’ve been so curious about the foodie buzz surrounding her.  Now I get why she’s such a star.

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April Bloomfield, in her writing and recipes, straddles something exciting between home cooking and cheffy imagination and technique, and it all feels accessible and inspiring.  Her approach is relaxed and easy as she looks around the world for culinary ideas and somehow simultaneously simplifies and elevates the foods.  It’s a kind of magic! Yet she never presents herself as the final word. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grub Street in London last year republished one of my, hmmm, I’d say 15? favourite cookbooks of all time– The Everyone Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook, by Ruth Waerebeek with Maria Robbins.  This is a presentation of Belgian cuisine written to honour the author’s great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother within historical backgrounds and as individual personalities.  It’s a collection of recipes that feel definitive yet friendly, elegant but possible to accomplish, familiar yet novel.

At first I was taken aback by choices the publishers made in the redesign of the book.  The original edition of 1996 has headings in cursive and charming line drawings and sidebars with historical and cultural tidbits.  I’d grown attached to this book in this style.  Grub Street’s republish has striking, stylised “food-porn” quality photographs and a very close and expert attention to lettering style and layout, colour and design. The Taste of Belgium, as it’s been renamed, feels as important as the book is, which is a good thing, even if I miss the cosier quality of the earlier edition.  But I’m happy, out of print as it was, many more readers and cooks will be able to explore the delicious and savoury comfort dishes that tempt one, page after page, of either version. And the new one is beautiful indeed, masterfully designed, a book to really look at, to visually take in.

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Several years ago I began to ponder the internet recipe site of Abel and Cole, the major organic vegetable subscription service in the south of England.  There was was something so incredibly interesting, and original, light-handed yet educational and resourceful there, a joyful and free competence around food that felt rare and precious and kept pouring forth, anew.  Visit that site; it’s such a great resource for recipes (even though I’m more drawn these days to the idea of “freecipes,” there’s still lots to learn from reading them).

For people who cook, who take their cooking “practice” seriously, learning from others is enriching and serious business, and I make it a task to learn as part of my love of cookbooks, and prefer most of all writers with style and a unique way of going about the kitchen.

Recently I met the Abel and Cole food editor Rachel de Thample. She is in person everything her food seems to be: warm, fun, intelligent, committed to a better food system, creative, interesting…  So as a cookbook aficionado I was really excited to read her new book Five: 150 Effortless Ways to Eat 5+ Fruit and Veg a Day.   On the one hand this book is what the subtitle says, an effort to get us all eating the way we should.  On the other hand, and more excitingly, it’s a wonderful insight into an original cooking voice with lots to teach, inspire and entertain.

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The Natural Cook, Tom Hunt

The Kitchen Orchard, Natalia Conroy

The Recipe Wheel, Rosie Ramsden

We lovers of cookery books spend time every year reading the Christmas reviews and roundups.  This year, for all my slogging-blogging, I was able to decide which books I really rated and approached the publishers for review copies.  I only asked for books I knew I would want to keep on my already over-filled shelves.  These are books I heartily recommend to readers… for this year, next year and beyond… really lovely books!

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Making Kimchi Latkes from a great new book — a review and lots of inspiration.

When my review copy of Fermented Vegetables arrived from the publishers, I felt upon first leaf-through an energising surge of creativity. From my own larder and imagination, I dressed a salad of grated swede and carrots in a Plum Kimchi vinaigrette.

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threw some RubyKraut in some lentil soup with assorted leftovers

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and made a quick potato salad mixing plain old sauerkraut with potatoes in olive oil with spring onions and chives.

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All were yummy, standard Kitchen-Counter-Culture type food preparations, but I needed to get past them to let in the light of the whole new universe that Fermented Vegetables opens up.  It’s a beautiful book with exciting and original recipes and has regenerated in me a can-do sense about all the ways to continue fermenting and use my fermentations as ingredients.

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…in which KitchenCounterCulture questions her family’s meat-eating in light of learnings from a book on Climate Change conundrums…

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