Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Favorite Cookbooks of 2016

Once again, these only include the books I either purchased or reviewed this past year. They also don't include review cookbooks I passed on to friends or family members since I don't have them available to look at before writing. The order is only the way I pulled them off the shelf. Most are showing my preference these days for cookbooks with prose and photos.

When I do purchase books on Amazon with credit, most of the time they are cooking and craft books.  Although I realized I didn't buy any new decorating or crafting books this past year, which is why none are included.

Homestead Kitchen: Stories and Recipes From our Hearth to Yours by Eve and Elvin Kilcher is a must have for fans of Alaska The Last Frontier.  I didn't start watching the show until it had been on about a year or so but once I did, I was hooked!  Elvin is one of the sons of the family showcased in the program and the way Elvin and Eve raise a young family off the land in the wilderness is one of the reasons I watch the show.  I've had a longing to live off the land since watching my first Wilderness Family movie in the 1970s.  ;)

While I enjoy the stories told in the book very much, it is also loaded with good "from scratch" recipes and photos.  Obviously, some of the ingredients are those I don't have access to but there are plenty of great ideas that I can use.  They had me on the nasturtium vinaigrette.  This was a great purchase with a promo-code discount.

Kitchen Gypsy by Joanne Weir can best be described as a "memoir with recipes".  I have long enjoyed Weir's PBS cooking shows and being able to read the story of her life and travels was a lot of fun.  It was particularly interesting to learn how various people influenced her cooking through the years, beginning with her mother and grandparents.

As you can imagine from a chef who worked at Chez Panisse (the Forward is by Alice Waters), the ingredients are both fresh and flavorful.  Most of the recipes are easy for anyone having cooking experience and all have Weir's flare for making the ordinary just a little unusual.  I learned to try new ideas in the kitchen from her and most worked out just fine.

I wanted Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South since I looked through it at Barnes & Noble one day.  First of all, I love the PBS show, A Chef's Life.  It took me awhile to warm up to it in the beginning but I knew it had potential.  These past few seasons have been very enjoyable.

At first I wasn't sure I'd want this cookbook because it is pricey, I don't cook with North Carolina ingredients, and her show... and book... is ingredient based.  That's where perusing it changed my mind.  For one thing, this is a huge cookbook.  Chances are anyone can find a lot of recipes in it.  I know from the show that Vivian Howard likes to use ingredients in unusual ways so I was surprised at how many good, old fashioned, basic country style recipes are in the book.

Each recipe has not only a photo but an accompanying story.  I love that!  Because each chapter is Ingredient based, it is also easy to look through when I want an idea for something to do with that ingredient.  While I will never use the chapter on say... oysters... I will definitely be coming back to tomatoes and eggs and cucumbers (especially the Fancy Sandwiches), and beets, and... you get the idea.

So how did I come to purchase it?  A lovely aligning of the stars with an already good Holiday price on Amazon, a $10.00 promo-code, and Amazon credit available.  Yes!

The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson has been around for a couple of years but I didn't purchase it until this past year.  It has been on my Wish List for ages after seeing photos of the inside of the book and having cooks I trust online rave about it.

It's definitely an eye candy cookbook that one can drool over as the Winter winds are howling outside the window... as they are now.  Brrrrr...  But I have been adding a few vegetarian cookbooks to my shelves and decided this would be a good one. It is loaded with great ideas and recipes (which are often just ways of assembling fresh fruit and veggies).

She has a kid's cookbook that I've heard is good but takes a lot of recipes from this one.  Her brand new cookbook, which centers around entertaining large crowds, is getting rave reviews.  But this basic cookbook is fine for me.  It will get more use once seasonal fruit and veggies are available again.

The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking is another ingredient based vegetarian cookbook with lots of colorful photos.  It is by blogger Jeanine Donofrio of the Love and Lemons food blog, which was a winner of Saveur's Best Cooking Blog Award.

This book also kept coming up on favorite food blogs and what everyone raved about was not the recipes (although they look very good), but the two page layouts that give basic ingredients of favorite foods and then adds variations.  In color.  In photos.  Amazing.

The two page layouts in the back of the book are:  Pesto, Hummus, Guacamole, Salsa, and Smoothies. They all begin with the most traditional ingredient recipes and then give suggestions from there.  This book has more Winter friendly recipes than The Forest Feast.  I have a few of the cauliflower recipes marked to try soon.

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from A Village in the Vineyards by Mimi Thorisson.  If one goes on readability and gorgeous photos alone, then this is definitely a case of saving the best for last.  This was the first cookbook I ever read all the way through after receiving it.

I liked Mimi's first book called A Kitchen In France but I absolutely loved this book.  In it, she tells the story of their purchase of a rundown chateau and the "pop up" restaurant they run off and on.  But it is also the story of a family that loves good food, dogs, kids, and their home in France.

Reading it was enjoyable and the photos, taken by her professional photographer husband, are gorgeous.  This is indeed the perfect book to read mid-winter.  It is one of those rare cookbooks that I don't care if I every try one of the recipes, although I do plan to soon, it would be worth the purchase just to read it as a novel.  It was a good day when I decided to review it!

Items mentioned in this post:
  • Homestead Kitchen... here.
  • Kitchen Gypsy... here.
  • Deep Run Roots... here.
  • The Forest Feast... here.
  • The Love and Lemons Cookbook... here.
  • French Country Cooking... here.
  • The Adventures of the Wilderness Family Trilogy DVD... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate Links.
I know you will ask:  I found all my Amazon promo book discounts on Modern Mrs. Darcy's updates on her blog... here.


Vee said...

You want to live off the land? I wish that I had the energy to want to live off the land. I think you do a splendid job of gardening. Interested in raising chickens? My niece does and it seems pretty straightforward, plus you'd have all that liquid gold for your gardens. =D You have far more sophisticated tastes in cookbooks than I. I do like some of the cooking shows you've mentioned, though I have never once been inspired to make what they're making. I just watch and think how interesting what they are doing is. I guess that I am more interested in their methods in the kitchen than their recipes...how to chop and onion or spatchcock a chicken.

Heather said...

Wow, so many good books to look for. The one I have from the library right now is River Cottage Everyday. I have been watching various episodes on Youtube for years off and on when I remember. When I read the cookbook, I hear Hugh's voice in my head. :)