Archive for ‘Books’

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!  I hope you all have safe travels today and enjoy the holiday. This is my first year celebrating Thanksgiving not with family (I count my JYA Thanksgiving as a family event, as well as my Fulbright Thanksgiving, because those two years were so intense and awesome, and we all bonded as if we were related).  I was sad at first, but then a dear friend from childhood asked David and me to have Thanksgiving with her, and now I know it’s going to be a great holiday.  I can’t wait to spend the entire day tomorrow cooking and eating with her and her husband, and Friday and Saturday lounging around (and packing their house for a cross-country move – sad!)

 

 

Thanksgiving for me is about family, and about community.  My good friend Kristina organized a bunch of musicians, artists, and other friends of hers and edited a community cookbook.  This isn’t just any cookbook – it’s probably the best community cookbook you can have!  It was organized through an online community, and its story is pretty amazing.   I love the book, I love the recipes, the art, and the obvious fun that comes out of the book.  It’s clear these are cool people, eating awesome food, and I kind of want to be friends with each and every contributor (there are over 50 people who worked on this book)!

If you’re looking for a great new cookbook, consider Cook Food Every Day.  100% of proceeds of your purchase goes directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank, and the book has raised over $1000 dollars, and there are still books left.  Click over to the Cook Food Every Day blog where a PayPal donation gets you your very own copy of the book.

Also, Kristina writes a pretty incredible blog called No Gluten Required.  I recommend it whether or not you eat gluten.  She’s currently got a pretty sweet round-up of Thanksgiving recipes up!

April 9, 2008

Libraries and Chocolate

The other day I was exploring the Cambridge neighborhoods I work in, mainly trying to find Formaggio Kitchen and a fish shop next to it. David, who isn’t a big fan of fish, wasn’t going to be home and I wanted to prepare a tilapia for dinner. On my way back to the T stop, I stumbled upon some buildings that looked similar in architecture to some dorms at Smith College, my alma mater. I knew I was close to Harvard, and when I inspected one of the signs more closely I smiled (I may have even uttered an “Oh!” out loud, but only the birds can tell you if I did or not). On a white background in clear lettering stood “Radcliffe” and underneath it “Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.”

I’d heard about the Schlesinger Library, the only of Harvard’s many libraries that is open to the public. It houses many documents on women, and is famous for its cookbook collections. They archive all of Julia Child’s personal papers, as well as her own library of cookbooks. They also have Marilyn Monroe’s cookbooks (I’ve heard it’s quite a small collection), among many other collections of both famous and pedestrian women.

April 5, 2007

Recipe Index

First of all, I’d like to start this post with a big “Happy Birthday Mama!” I love you, and am so proud that you are my mom. Your accomplishments as well as the love you have given your whole family is an inspiration to me. I also love the fact that we can go to southern Germany and Switzerland without a tour book – we just need you to say “This town is famous for its….” I hope you are having a wonderful time with Dad in Morocco!

While my parents roam around the Iberian Peninsula and into Africa, I am sitting here trying to think of things to cook. Inspiration can hit me in the strangest of moments. Sometimes I come up with an idea of something to cook when I’m hungry (this is not strange) and I’ll decide to bake something like crackers (more strange) because the store is closed already and besides, crackers are much too expensive to buy (logical). Other times I’ll be walking to the train station from the frustrating university and see a restaurant sign advertising something, and decide to try it at home, without ever having had the restaurant’s version. And yet, most frequently I will come up with something simply because I’ve heard about it, or I know that this is something key to American or German cuisine, and I should try making it at home.

Logically I should turn to my cookbooks for a decent recipe, though this is sometimes problematic, as at least half of my collection is safely stored away in my parent’s garage in Oregon. My next step is to quest my favorite blogs, though that’s also sometimes an issue because I have to be lucky enough that my blog “friends” have the same interests I do. I use Epicurious on occasion, but only when I want to make something simple (like apple pie) fancy and gourmet (with hazelnuts and dried cherries, or with a cheddar crust). They do sometimes have simple recipes (I just found one for banana bread I wish I had the oven to try out), but you have to sift through the fancy gourmet recipes with ingredients I can’t afford, much less find, here in Radeberg.

So, this usually concludes with me googling for a recipe, which can be very fruitful, but also very dangerous. There are people lurking out there ready for me to fall into their poor recipe trap. However, I do my very best to avoid those bad, bad people. Therefore, my eternal quest is to find a source that is going to give me a decent recipe I can rely on. I’m never going to be the cook who follows a recipe to the letter (nor do I want to be one) but I do like at least starting off with a decent guideline.

And thus I open the comments up to you: and that means you, yes you reading the blog! I agree, the blogosphere is great because you can just sit and read and soak everything in. But here I’m asking you – no, pleading you – to please share with me your recipe resources. These can be on and off the web – what websites, books, blogs, magazines, witches, or wizards do you turn to for a decent recipe? I know you’re out there, and I’d love to hear from you!

February 1, 2007

Cookbooks

Being a blogger is a tricky business. It’s easy to get caught up in statistics (especially if you have Google Analytics) – and you can check as much as you want to see how many people have logged on to your site, and where they come from. I’ve had at least one hit from every continent except Antarctica (so, if anyone knows of any scientist freezing on the South Pole, let them know this is a place they can warm up!).

Nevertheless, the statistics are much less important than the content (as some of my favorite bloggers will tell you). Unfortunately, I think that while I know that I had only six people log onto my site yesterday, it is all because of me and my lack of posting. This being the first post of the second half of my century of posts (otherwise known as my 51st post!) I’ve decided to do my best to reform to an acceptable amount of posting.

You may think: why am I telling you all this? You’re probably not interested, and a “professional” blogger may choose not to talk about any of the stuff that goes on in the background of a blog. Nevertheless, for me this is part of the journey. Whereas previously I wasn’t sure what to cook, and I haven’t been cooking much lately (*gasp!*), I’ve decided to take on my modest collection of cookbooks (see above).

Let’s start from the bottom:

Culinaria: Deutsche Spezialitäten (in German) [Note: this book is also available in English translation! ~KM 2/15/07] is the newest member of my library. It is part of a series of Culinaria cookbooks (there’s one on European specialties, one on Italian, you get the idea). Edited by Christine Metzger and published by Könemann, this book is a beautiful encyclopedic cookbook of German food. It’s organized by state, and each state gives its own rendition of food (with a strong focus on meats, maybe due to the editor’s last name which means “butcher”?). There are double-page spreads on the various types of German potatoes (they show 24), apples, coffee, tea, chapters on cabbage, German cakes, bread, and so much more. While sometimes it leaves me wanting a detailed recipe for things like how to make your own sauerkraut or Obsttorte, it does offer many, many recipes with beautiful color pictures. Definitely not a book to teach technique, but a book to read with a cup of tea or to cook with sipping a glass of wine (preferably a German Riesling).

I’ve already mentioned Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking (in English) by Harumi Kurihara. I haven’t tried a recipe since then, but this again is a cookbook I look forward to becoming friends with. Harumi’s charming style and thorough descriptions leave me scheming many different dinner menus. The photography in this book is exquisite.

Schwaben (in German) by Claudia Daiber, is a collection of recipes from south-west Germany. A very good cookbook, thorough yet simple in its descriptions. I have cooked several recipes out of here and hope to work my way through the entire book. It doesn’t overwhelm with many different traditional dishes, but chooses the “most famous” and showcases them.

Christiane Nusslein-Vollhard decided that winning a Nobel Prize for her work on evolutionary biology at the Max Plank Institute in Tübingen just wasn’t enough. So she sat down and wrote a cookbook of her favorite recipes: Mein Kochbuch (in German). Her book’s thesis: “Einfaches für besondere Anlässe” (transl.: Simple food for special occasions). Her recipes have a scientific twist, in which she describes what leavening agents are at work in producing Lebkuchen, and why you shouldn’t use too much pectin when making jams. Although she uses her microwave a bit too much for my taste (especially since I don’t have a microwave), her recipes are delicious and my father, who gave me, my mother, and sisters the same autographed book for Christmas, has been thoroughly enjoying cooking out of it and giving me advice on which dishes to cook. Her Rösti turned out spectacular! I can’t wait to keep cooking with Christiane, as my father affectionately calls her.

The last two books are personal cookbooks that no one else in the world has access to but me (aren’t I special?). The first is my grandmother’s cookbook. She collected these recipes mainly in the years after the war, but also later on. I even found a recipe for gingerbread in my mother’s handwriting. A delicious treasure out of which I baked several Christmas cookies this winter and am hoping to bake and cook more out of in the months to come.

The top book, the spiral-bound, is my own collected recipes book. The book itself was given to me upon my graduation from high school by family friends, and I’ve collected everything from wanton crisps to zucchini bread and lemon miso sauce recipes. Some of the dishes are tried and true (like the incredibly simple and versatile and always really yummy lasagna) and others are on my list of things to try (like the Singapore turkey stew I cut out of Sunset Magazine).

Overall I have plenty to keep me busy cooking, and you can expect to see many of these cookbooks starring on this blog in the future (in English translation of course!). Now it’s your turn: what cookbooks are on your shelf? Which ones are your best friends and you can’t imagine living without? Which ones are patiently waiting their turn? It’s your opportunity to post in the comments section and become a book reviewer!