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What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Paleo books aplenty are offered for next to nothing all the time, but the Well Fed titles are much more highly rated (and far outpace other paleo books on Eat Your Books members' bookshelves).

Some $10 and under titles at the moment (most not on monthly or daily deals, I don't think): Plenty, Batali's Italian Grill, Fika, Franny's. Also Elizabeth David's An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, and Anya von Bremzen's Soviet memoir.

For dessert lovers who don't want to acquire the 700-recipe tome Essential Pepin, there's Essential Pepin Desserts for $4.

about 17 hours ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Squeeee!! Thanks so much; that O'Neal is a wishlist tome perfect for Kindling.

about 17 hours ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

Over the Blue Ridge and down the valley a bit. With the interstates, it's less than three hours to DC, so everywhere there and in northern Virginia is within visiting range.

about 19 hours ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

As it's the last day of the month, it's the last day for the monthly Kindle deals at Amz -- including the paleo bibles Well Fed and Well Fed 2 for $3.98 combined. Just FYI.

about 19 hours ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Copper lovers: Monet's copper collection/kitchen in Giverny

I had a similar reaction to alarash's, but considered it unlikely that a museum would stray far from the actual batterie de cuisine of this kitchen. If the cook does classic sauce reductions, I imagine four or five graduated saucepans might dedicated to that, and another two or three would be put in play with ingredients and sides being prepped. A big continuous stove surface like that has room for many more pans than our burner-centric ones. Also note how well-used the 'fait-tout' looks (the curved pan to the right of the saute and gratin in image #2).

about 20 hours ago
ellabee in Cookware

Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

D'oh! I could answer this if only I'd snagged the second book at last month's library sale. {kicks self}

What makes the first book valuable to me is that the Inn was located in pretty much the same "food watershed" as here (though we're a bit further from coastal fish and seafood sources), so the menus are easy to translate to local products and seasons.

It tells in some detail the story of the restaurant, which might be of less interest to people not in the region -- but with beautiful photos, and instructive about the developing food culture in the 1980s and early 1990s; also about the amount of work and money it takes to run such a business.

Comparing the two via recipe listings at Eat Your Books (both are indexed) shows them to be pretty similar in scale, with not much overlap. {kicks self again}

So my answer is: either or both, if it's the kind of food you enjoy making or (like me) enjoy thinking about making.

about 21 hours ago
ellabee in Home Cooking

Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

There are a lot of ways to impress with a dinner party, not all involving complex or time-consuming recipes:
Really good cheese and tasty nibbles with something to drink set a tone of pleasure. Bringing guests to a table already set with beautiful composed salads often elicits oohs and ahs (maybe just internal oohs if key guests are older and hard to impress <g>). Likewise, a dessert that looks smashing will ensure a lasting memory of pleased and impressed-ness, assuming it's also tasty (most are).

Like Lulu's Mom, I'm a believer in avoiding unnecessary stress as crucial to effective hosting. This starts with not serving dishes to guests that you haven't made before. Otherwise, it's hard to keep the anxiety in bounds, and that makes you dread rather than welcome opportunities to entertain. In the same vein, last-minute prep needs to be kept to the absolute minimum.

That said, cookbooks I'd look at for menu inspiration would include The Inn at Little Washington, Silver Palate and SP Good Times, The Herbfarm Cookbook and Herbal Kitchen (Jerry Traunfeld), and the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

Do I remember that your family background is Persian? I would be mightily impressed and pleased at being invited to a dinner where at least one or two of the dishes were Persian (assuming that you're comfortable with your own version of them). But maybe people in T.O. are more blase about that than I'd be.

Cookbooks vs. Online recipes . Which do you prefer ?

One of the reasons I'm such a fan of Eat Your Books is that printed recipes and online ones are no longer either-or. EYB integrates the books on my shelves, the magazines I've accumulated, and the online recipes I've "clipped". They're all available when I'm looking to use up a particular ingredient, cook for a certain kind of occasion, or just browse recipe titles and ingredient lists for inspiration.

Recipes from the time-tested cookbooks of the late 20th century are significantly more reliable than a random online recipe, but bets are increasingly off for most books published recently and here on out. Publishers are cutting books' budgets for recipe testing and indexing, or pushing the costs onto authors (with similar effect).

OTOH, there are quite a few cooks who've built a solid audience by engaging online with readers cooking from their blogs. And book authors who have deepened existing credibility by doing the same with readers -- Andrea Nguyen, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Dorie Greenspan, and Grace Young come to mind.

Copper lovers: Monet's copper collection/kitchen in Giverny

What a handsome stove! Is that a spigot on the front? I assume it produces heated (maybe even boiling?) water.

Monet lived there from 1883 on; I wonder if the stove dates from his earliest arrival, or is an early 20th century item.

Jul 29, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Thanks for that average rainfall link. Average is the key word, as our specific location has gotten much closer to 39 inches a year over the last decade (sorry, 35 was a typo). Doubtless the averages for that site's database cover a longer period; in my county the averages given range from 41 to 49. Being folded up between two sets of mountains makes for a lot of microclimates.

And, yes, we're a whole different order of green than Austin, Texas. For us a drought lasts five or six weeks (but can be expected biennially and can happen at any time of year). Big, dumping storms are rare-ish but not unknown -- hurricane edges or late snows.

California is uniquely suited for some crops, even at lower water levels. But that's not exactly the starting point of ag planning, as it might be in a home garden. The political economy of water there, shaped by deals made in other eras... yikes.

Jul 28, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Appreciate all the links to discussion of the California situation, which is unique and with massive implications for the U.S. food system.

I live not very far from Salatin's farm (though annual rainfall right here is more like 35 inches, and the "spread evenly through the year" is usually only true for a multi-year average, not characteristic of a typical year).

Similar to MelMM, I decided several years ago to give up industrial meat and rely almost entirely on locally grown and grass-fed sources. My experience has been more positive than hers, mostly due to a local business that's made it much easier for cooks like me. It's a store that only stocks from local and area food producers. Because I can just go shop there for most of what we eat, the vastly smaller carbon footprint is real. Of course there are still things I buy at the supermarket, but they're mostly non-food, and it's on the way home from the local-food store. For sure, we eat drastically less produce and other food from California than we did six or seven years ago.

Our diet has gotten much more seasonal in all ways, which does mean fewer eggs in winter (down to none in the depths), and profligate use in May and June. But the quality of the local meats -- pork, lamb, and chicken, but also occasional beef -- is excellent; "less but better" accurately captures it.

I know the local situation's not typical, but many aspects are replicable. From the p.o.v. of locals, our food supply's more secure, diverse, and high quality than it was five or ten years ago, and more of the local food dollar is staying in the area.

For those not in agricultural areas, Mel's advice for quick carbon and other eco-burden reduction is sound: more plants, less meat, less driving.

To keep this on cookbooks: Now that I've finished the story passages in Amanda Hesser's The Cook and the Gardener, I'm delighted to find the recipes equally compelling. Though what's available at each season here isn't exactly like the products of a Burgundy chateau and environs, it's similar enough that the book will be much more cooked-from than I expected when I plunked down my $2 for it at the library sale.

Jul 28, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What are the treasured items in your kitchen?

My mother's Joy of Cooking, 1953, full of her notes and adjustments, is the most treasured item in my kitchen.

Jul 27, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

Final day tomorrow. Need to decide pots and pans

No reason to get everything at once. Get a medium skillet, a boil pot (wider than tall is more versatile), and a medium saucepan, all with lids that fit well. All can be x-ply stainless/aluminum, or the boil pot can be stainless with an aluminum disk base, or it can be enameled cast iron (and double as a Dutch oven). A baking sheet with a grid rack to fit it.

There's very little you can't cook with that setup. You'll discover what else you need and want as you go in different directions with your cooking, spend time in the kitchens of friends, etc. The food's the thing!

Jul 27, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Anyone tried Le Creuset's tri ply roaster in small?

I have a roaster that size, from All-Clad, their "Petite Roti". The oven here is 24" -- quite small by U.S. standards -- and this is the only size roaster I found that fits inside. It's fine for roasts, a goose, and all but the largest turkeys, and I use it occasionally to caramelize onions in the oven, as well as to roast veal and beef bones for stock.

The roaster is still among the least frequently used of my pans, since I roast most chickens in a large oval gratin and use sheet pans for roasting vegetables.

Jul 22, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Virginia's state stores have upgraded a lot in recent years, but in my youth people here depended on DC to stock up for entertaining. Wine was sold in supermarkets then and now, and selection back then was even more limited than hard liquor. My father never came back from summer active duty (Army Reserve) w/o stopping at DC's great stores.

Jul 20, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

The well equipped kitchen

For me, the absolute basics are: medium skillet, boil pot (4-6 qt, a role that can be filled by a Dutch oven), small saucepan, large frying surface (can be big skillet, saute, wok), and baking sheet(s).

Next tier: large saucepan, Dutch oven (or differently sized/shaped casserole if there's one already), open shallow baking pan(s) (lasagna, square, gratin, pie/quiche...), racks to fit the baking sheets.

Deluxe: sauciers, braiser, variants on large frying surface and shallow bakers. And anything more specialized.

Jul 19, 2015
ellabee in Cookware
1

The perfect handle

Thanks, bkultra, that's almost certainly what I was thinking of. Must look away... <g>

Jul 15, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

The perfect handle

Handles aren't so important to professional and near-professional cooks, maybe -- because they always use a towel anyway as they zip from one pan to another.

But handles are important to me. I started out cooking with a cast iron skillet, and I complained mightily -- silently and inwardly, though, since there were no cookware forums back then. <g>

It wasn't until 30+ years later that I cooked with a skillet with a long, comfortable handle, and when I did I reflected sadly for a few days on how much more easily and more quickly I might have learned to cook well with such a pan. It was an inexpensive tri-ply skillet made by the Regal corp at their Wisconsin factory, sold initially as Marcusware (M. Samuelsson) and then American Kitchen. The handle was the best part: long, hollow brushed stainless, with a sideways profile very similar to the Mauviel I described in another post. Only *way* lighter, in line with the pan itself, and without any thumb indent because the light weight made it unnecessary. The brushed finish made it a bit grippier than the polished surface of the Mauviel, too; a nice thing if your hands are the least bit damp or oily.

Likewise, the sharp edges of the handles on the classic and chic carbon steel skillets have kept me from buying one despite my cookware geekiness. If the manufactured ones were available with handles similar to the one on the hand-made Blu Skillet, I'd be more tempted. Maybe some are now? I seem to remember glancing at a Chef's catalog this winter that had carbon steel pans with non-standard handles.

Jul 14, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

The perfect handle

What makes a handle excellent depends on so many things: the weight and shape of the pan to which it's attached, the pan's intended and most frequent uses, the size and strength of the cook's arm(s)... so it'd be very difficult to generalize.

It does seem more crucial that a handle is comfortable on pans where there's lots of manipulation, such as skillets and sauciers, and a bit less so for things like straight-sided saucepans and soup/stew pots.

My favorite handle is attached to a 9.5"/24cm copper-stainless skillet. The handle is cast stainless, long, smooth, and shallowly troughed (so that it's easy to rest your thumb securely but not have edges biting in on your hand). The handle is curved from pan to tip in such a way that the pan feels balanced when you pick it up, and the tip end can even rest under your forearm if you're grasping the handle lower down; that makes it comfortable and secure to do a "jerk and roll" while saute-ing, even though the pan is hefty (3 1/2 pounds). Because it's stainless and cast, and long, it's very slow to heat up; I've almost never had to use a hotpad.

But a similar handle might be overkill for, say, a tri-ply saucepan, unless you did a *lot* of picking the pan up and pouring out its contents.

The favorite handle/pan is a Mauviel product, from their discontinued Cuprinox Style line; they still offer the seemingly identical handle, but only on 1.5mm copper-stainless pans. [Edited to add:] They also use the same or similar handle in their M'Cook line, I'm reminded by a post elsewhere in the thread. Have never handled one of those, so don't know if the balance is as good as it is in the heavier copper combination, or if it comes off as overkill.

Jul 14, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Thinning the herd. Getting my cookbooks down to a reasonable number

Anyone with almost any number of cookbooks, from 5 to 500 or 5000, will be able to make better use of them by setting up an account at EatYourBooks.com. It's possible to try it out for free indefinitely with a limit of five books on your Bookshelf. Free membership includes access to the hundred thousand or more indexed recipes with online links: from indexed books, magazines, and blogs, and recipes added one at a time by members from all kinds of sites.

Getting to know your cookbooks better by actually cooking from them is the point of EYB, which aims to "level the playing field" by making it as easy to search your own cookbook shelf as it is to poke around online for recipes.

It can be a valuable tool for winnowing, especially since for no cash outlay you can explore many books by rotating them onto your Bookshelf. If you find it valuable, and actually have more than five cookbooks, I expect you will find it worthwhile to subscribe. I hope so, since it's one of the greatest things ever to enter my cooking life, and I want it to continue to grow and thrive.

Jul 14, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
2

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Congratulations! You're settled in in an important way when all the cookbooks are in place. [Regardless of what the rest of the living space looks like. <g>]

Sobering, how many of these I recognize from a distance.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Speaking of Andrea Nguyen: Visited her blog today from a link in the 'mystery herb' thread, and found that the NY Times (Kim Severinson in particular) did an article on the California drought and ways it's affecting cooks and food producers. In it A.N. shares a recipe for pressure cooker pho that she developed specifically to reduce the amount of water needed. It'll be part of her next cookbook, which is all about pho, but why wait?

Also highly encouraging news about 'Unforgettable' -- the Paula Wolfert cookbook / Alzheimer's awareness project.

http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/...

Thinning the herd. Getting my cookbooks down to a reasonable number

How many books are you starting from? Getting down to 12 from fifty or sixty sounds very do-able. Getting there from a hundred or more will take some more stringent standards.

In general, my approach to selection would be:

Three favorite 'bibles' -- reliable cookbooks from which I cook a lot, that are the ones I consult as references. [Joy of Cooking from 1953, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and the Victory Garden Cookbook.]

One favorite book for each cuisine you enjoy and cook from (French, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Middle Eastern, etc.)

If you bake, two specialized baking books.

Two more favorites from any category: possible criteria are sentimental attachment, frequently used, difficult to replace if regret sets in...

If the local library is convenient and well stocked, you may want to rely on it for periodic forays into specialized cooking.

If you're serious about getting down to 12, I'd set aside the last 10-40 books that are the most agonizing to cull in boxes that you keep stored for six months to a year. Any of those that you need to consult will be accessible, and may go back on the shelf. After a year, if you haven't read or used any of them, they can go out to the same places as the early, easy culls.

Jul 13, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Thinning the herd. Getting my cookbooks down to a reasonable number

You might consider donating the books that the second-hand shop won't buy to a library with regular book sales. My concern about donating them to a homeless shelter would be that the bottom tier of books tend to be specialized in ways that would make them not so useful to people with limited resources. Extra cooking *equipment*, on the other hand, seems like a most welcome contribution. Just a thought.

Jul 13, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Sass's book is my top recommendation to anyone learning how to use their pressure cooker (and I'm not alone, which is why I suspect the ATK title was carefully chosen).

I still use my p.c. way more for ingredient prep (beans, stock, rice, long-cooking grains) than I do for full recipes, but Sass gives good tips about how to convert existing recipes for the pressure cooker.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Good to hear, bc!

I'm thinking of emailing friends who cook this evening to encourage them to stop by the library sale tomorrow. Books are $1.50-2.00, and for the last hour they're $2. a bag. Anything not sold goes to Goodwill of a nearby city. I'd hate to see some of the books that were still there yesterday leave that way: the second Inn at Little Washington cookbook, From Julia Child's Kitchen, Jas. Peterson's Essentials of Cooking, and an excellent reference on culinary herbs by members of the Herb Society of America... {sigh}

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Having heard from one of the volunteers involved that the library's monthly book sale would have a lot of cookbooks in July, I decided to show up early on the first day rather than wait for my regular work shift at the sale (Saturday closeout). To my dismay, the plentiful offerings came mostly from the library itself -- de-accessioning to make room for the new. I know it's necessary, but it was a little shocking to see some of the titles: Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries!? Harold McGee's On Cooking and Food (the first one, 1984; the library still has the 2004 one -- but the two are almost completely different books). Madeleine Kamman's original Making of a Cook -- though New Making of a Cook is still shelved. Etc.

I took the opportunity to pick up some classics:

The Cuisines of Mexico - Diana Kennedy (the 1986 revised version of her first book, which came out in the early 1970s).

Marcella's Italian Kitchen - M. Hazan This one was her third book, after Classic and More Classic; published mid-1980s.

Silver Palate (Lukens/Rosso) I've had SP Good Times and New Basics for years, and have used a library copy of SP more than once. They still have a hardback on the shelf; this was a 10th anniversary trade paperback.

Martha Stewart Cookbook - 1995. Edited by Roy Finamore, it's all the recipes from her first ten or so books in one surprisingly un-gigantic volume: more than a thousand recipes in small but legible type. No room for Martha pix or lifestyle dreck, so it's pure recipes -- well tested and reliable, as cookbooks go.

As a gardener and a cook, I'm also enjoying The Cook and the Gardener, by Amanda Hesser. It's an account of the year of cooking from garden produce at Anne Willan's chateau (with recipes for each subseason) and Hesser's unfolding relationship with the gardener and his wife.

Really Random Panna Cotta Recipe Question

What is PB2?

Jul 07, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

While we're all waiting on the new Wolfert, have you ever taken a look at Paula Wolfert's World of Food, which was an earlier collection of her favorites? I haven't seen it myself, but I imagine the headnotes might be equally appealing.

Jul 07, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Another Kindle bargain that moves an annoyingly gigantic book off my kitchen shelf (and onto the library book sale donation pile): Stephen Raichlen's How to Grill is currently just $2.99. Quite of few of the recipes in it have become regulars in the summer & fall rotation here, and it's a sound introduction to grilling technique, but how nice to have a little space instead of another Workman doorstop!

Not getting any of the books below, but they represent pretty good values at $10 for those who'd prefer having the Kindle version (given that used physical copies are available for even less):

James Peterson's Essentials of Cooking,
Crescent Dragonwagon's Bean by Bean,
Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook.
Raichlen's Barbecue Bible.
The Frog Commissary Cookbook,
Outlaw Cook by John Thorne
The James Beard Cookbook.