Comfort, Joy and Good Health for the Winter Season Upon Us
Please welcome to the blog our assistant director, Christine Friese!
Among the books added to the library’s cookbook collection this year are some to inspire you, to comfort you, to help with that New Year’s resolution to eat healthy meals or cook more at home.
This time of year, even if abnormally warm, is darker and chillier and busier than others for many. The season cries out for comfort food. So go ahead, give in.
Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food : The Ultimate Weekend Cookbook. Whether chicken Kiev, fish & chips, the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, grandma’s porridge, shepherd’s pie with slow-roasted lamb or Indonesian Gado Gado (a tasty salad with a peanut sauce), Jamie Oliver covers a panoply of comfort options, most of which are terrific for winter. Only the truly hardy will take on some of his grilling recipes once the snow comes. But I know you are out there.
Coolness factor: Oh, please. Comfort. And well-written recipes that make things like fish and chips seems reasonable for home cooks.
Le French Oven by Hillary Davis is all about cooking with Dutch ovens, here called French Ovens because all the brands recommended by the author are French-made. Most recipes are for a 5-6 quart traditional oven, but she also makes individual pot-pies, quiches and desserts in mini cocottes. Ms. Davis offers recipes that are baked, roasted, braised, stewed, fried or cooked on the stove top but all in these amazing pots. For those who subscribe to English Nursery comfort foods, there are rice pudding, panna cotta and crème caramel. For those who take comfort in braising, I suggest the braised leeks and Swiss chard with feta and raisins.
Coolness factor: One-pot cooking.
The Pollan Family Table: The Best Recipes And Kitchen Wisdom For Delicious, Healthy Family Meals. Michael Pollan, food writer of such classics as the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, grew up with 3 sisters and a mother who took cooking seriously. His mother and sisters, who have carried on the tradition of family dinners, offer their family recipes. They include a list of suggested pantry items and utensils, along with many tips to making good, whole foods that include poultry, meat and seafood along with vegetarian dishes.
Coolness factor: Beyond the requisite lovely photos, the recipes include separate sections for items to purchase and those likely to be in your pantry, like broth, tomatoes, olive oil, etc.
And speaking of pantries….
My Pantry, by Alice Waters, this time with her daughter, Fanny Singer. It offers instructions to create your own pantry items from Apple Peel Cider Vinegar to Za’atar and including cheeses and how to render duck fat. A terrific inspiration or reference book.
Coolness factor: Old-fashioned look (no photos, just drawings) and old fashioned pantry items like crab apple jelly. Oh, and Alice Waters.
Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen from the talented folks at Food52.com. An easy, clear and beautiful cookbook. Whether you are a vegan, are cooking for one, or just want some plant-based options using different ingredients, this is a great place to start. The writer is a columnist on the website and clearly presents some of the less well-known ingredients as well as tips and recipes for the vegan pantry. With sections for breakfast and snacks as well as the traditional soups, salads, main dishes and desserts, it offers some intriguing dishes such as smoky tempeh and hummus sandwiches.
Coolness factor: Vegan 101 tips spread throughout with names like “Give millet a chance”.
Ok, raise your hand if you are already thinking about summer…
The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket. I have not totally bought into the new Mason jar fads, with jars as cocktail containers or holding constructed salads. But I was oddly charmed by a book that has both 99+ ways to use a Mason jar, tips on buying a picnic blanket and customizing your bike to carry your picnics AND recipes for kale salads and Japanese potato salad along with tips on the best picnic beers. A quirky, retro picnic book written for the 21st century.
Coolness factor: Retro picnic ideas with sections like rules for lawn games.
Before we get back to our grills and picnics, we also have some fun foodie films for the cold winter months ahead. If you haven’t yet, see these newer feature films in the library’s Feature DVDs collection:
The Hundred-Foot Journey. Culture shock when an Indian family open a restaurant across from a Michelin-starred one in southern France. Food, spices, love and cross-cultural awareness.
Chef. A talented but disgraced chef pulls his life back together and finds his lost passion for food in a cross-country food truck trek.
The Lunchbox. A lonely young wife and mother and a lonely widowed office worker share feelings through anonymous notes when the famous lunchbox delivery service in Delhi makes a delivery mistake.
Christine Friese enjoys the finer things in life: food, travel and a good read. She’s the Assistant Director at Portsmouth Public Library, and always appreciates cookbook suggestions. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.