Sunday, June 12, 2011

By the Book

Submitted by Robin Rhodes-Crowell on Thu, 2010-07-15 08:57

In the last blog I promised a list of my favorite cookbooks. I decided to keep it short and highlight my four favorites. There are many wonderful cookbooks out there and we all have our own favorites. However, these are ones I pull from the shelf again and again. I like being able to quickly look up a single ingredient and be presented with a list of recipes. When I have a mound of zucchini or a pile of spinach, I like to have recipes which highlight the same ingredient yet are not similar. This way I can avoid the usual pasta and stir-fry dishes.

My all time favorite is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This 700 page cookbook is not intimidating. Madison begins with "Becoming a Cook" and then goes on to discuss and provide easy recipes for soups, vegetables, gratins and onward through tarts, pies and desserts. Before we go too much farther here, I should tell you I am not a vegetarian. While I do prefer meals with minimal meat, two members of my family certainly would be less than willing to give up being an omnivore. I certainly will discuss locally raised meat in future blogs. Madison's book is useful for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

A favorite cookbook usually has stained pages, dog-eared corners and crinkled pages. Two of mine which fit this bill are Simple Suppers by The Moosewood Collective and Eating Well's Diabetes Cookbook. Simple Suppers contains just that - easy to prepare meals with a manageable list of ingredients yet always delicious. On the cover of the second book, Diabetes Cookbook, is a quote: "The way everyone should be eating" by Marion J. Franz, M.S., R.D. She's right and this cookbook is not just for diabetics. The beginning chapters contain good lessons on nutrition and are followed by recipes emphasizing whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and even desserts. Many people think healthy eating involves sacrifice. This cookbook will prove them wrong.

Lastly, I would like to mention one of my 2009 Christmas presents. A gift from my mother-in-law, World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey, is wonderful! If you want to take your local ingredients and turn them into world cuisine, this is the cookbook for you. From the simple to the complex, Jaffrey gives us a range of recipes from India, North and South America, Africa and beyond. Some ingredients are not even possible to buy or grow locally and this is the way it is in most cookbooks. I'll leave it to you as to how to sort that out. I will say though the goal is not to give up food items like rice, chocolate, French wine and such, but to create a diet which is primarily focused on local foods. I do believe it is in this manner we can go on to create viable food systems.

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