Blogs: Food

Grand Central Baking BookOne of my favorite things to do is bake. The only kind of cooking I really like doing needs to involve some sort of baking (savory tarts, potpies, even meat loaf qualifies). I also enjoy dining at many of Portland's fantastic restaurants. One of the best ways to combine these 2 loves of mine is to find cookbooks that have been written by the fine chefs of those establishments. I give 4-star reviews to those cookbooks that actually have recipes that come out as delicious as when the restaurants whip them up.

One of my absolute favorite baking books is The Grand Central Baking Book. First of all, Grand Central Bakery is one of the best cafes around; their cinnamon rolls, jammers, and all of their breads are amazing. The recipes in this cookbook are easy to follow with lots of tips on how to create the delicious treats exactly as they are served in their cafes. Two floury thumbs up for the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made!yummy cookies

Mother's Best bookjacketAnother wonderful restaurant/cookbook combo I recommend is Mother's Bistro & Bar/Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again by Lisa Schroeder. I've enjoyed everything I've made or eaten from Mother's. Again, she gives you little tidbits of information so that your recipes will be even better. Try the chicken and dumplings or the meatloaf. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Try a local restaurant then recreate those recipes at home!

After checking out more cookbooks than any one can realistically get through, I’ve acquired a fair number of repeatable recipes. I wanted to share these finds in the event that you too have gotten bored of your usual go-to’s. These cookbooks have more to offer than just one recipe, but here’s what lured me into the kitchen:

L.A. Son book jacketKorean-inspired Dumplings from L.A. Son by Roy Choi: Well-seasoned (garlic, ginger, scallions, and hot pepper powder), and meaty (tofu, beef, and pork), these pot stickers taste revelatory. Double the recipe and freeze some for later!

Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots and Fingerling Potatoes from 150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken, and 50 Ways to Roast It by Tony Rosenfeld: There are so few ingredients and so much flavor packed in this recipe. I love that you get a main entree and a side dish all in one.

Kidney Bean Masala from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester: In this recipe, boring ole kidney beans get transformed intoGreat Vegan Bean Book book jacket a delicious garlicky, gingery curry.

Chandra Malai Kofta from Isa Does It by Isa Moskowitz: Crispy zucchini-chickpea patties are added to a creamy curry sauce. Even if you didn’t want to go through the trouble of making kofta, make the sauce and add roasted cauliflower. Just do it.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book jacketMushroom Lasagna from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison: When I need a shake-up from macaroni and cheese, I have to make this white sauce lasagna. No boil lasagna noodles never got so fancy.

Stay tuned for my next installment toward the end of the year. I’ll lug more cookbooks home and try them out so you don’t have to!

 

What dishes could you expect at a dinner with Queen Elizabeth? What did the Emperor Nero eat after fiddle practice? What did Lewis and Clark roast over their fire? Today there are many fad diets, like the hugely popular Paleo Diet, that claim healthier eating by replicating the diets of our ancestors. Here at the library we have gathered several ways for you to explore the history of food and maybe find a “new” favorite old recipe.


www.foodtimeline.org is an exhaustive list of authoratitive information about food from early human history to modern times. This site was created and maintained by librarian Lynne Olver and includes a detailed bibliography, links to recipes throughout history, and informational biographies on our favorite foods.


http://blog.americanhistory.si.edu/osaycanyousee/food-history/ This blog from the National Museum of American History includes highlights from their collection of food throughout American History.


The Oxford Handbook of Food History edited by Jeffrey M Pilcher provides twenty seven essays that explore the history through the lens of food. These scholarly essays explore the historiography of this research and point towards avenues of continued scholarship.

Recipes tell stories. They tell stories of family gatherings, beloved traditions and good meals shared with friends. When we share a recipe with another, we aren’t just passing along our impeccable taste, we are giving another person a little taste of who we are, like our love of thyme or our obsession with the perfectly grilled steak. We hope that you will join us at the library as we support this sharing with our new recipe exchange program.

Our initial meeting will be focusing on the most versatile of foods, cookies. Sweet or savory, chewy or crisp, cookies come in all flavors and sizes. Bring your favorite cookie recipe to share, whether it be your grandmother’s fail-proof chocolate chip or a new exotic favorite. We will be featuring your recipes on this blog as well as compiling a list of recipes to share with others at the Central Library.

If you need inspiration please see the book list below. We have carefully sifted through our huge collection of cookbooks to bring you the best cookie books that Multnomah County Library has to offer.

As much as I love to cook, love to shop for ingredients, love to put a tasty meal together, sometimes I am a bit confused. And the nutritional labels on cans and packages? Forget about it. The print is small and often I am too hungry or tired to care. Sometimes I give up all together. Isn’t it easier to just go out to eat? Or throw some frozen thing in the microwave? If only I had the time to figure it all out.

Luckily for me and other confused eaters, the authors of Eat This Not That by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding have more than figured it out. They have written a series of books that are so simple and easy to use that you could easily take one along with you to the grocery store to help you make the right choices about what to feed yourself and your family. Plainly put: the left side shows what you should eat, the right side shows what you shouldn’t eat. There are bullet points that give you tasty tidbits about nutrition and eating right.  Each volume in the series also has a section of straightforward delicious recipes and menus. The books themselves are small enough to fit into your coat pocket or purse or to lend to a friend. Their idea is not that their recipes or suggestions are low cal or carb or fat. Rather, they show you how to make the best choice based on what packs the most flavor and ease of preparation for the most nutrition. The Eat This Not That Restaurant Guide has a helpful section that covers the best fast food choices.

There are also price comparisons. Stay tuned for the next in the series: Eat It to Beat it!

Cover image of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb PerlmanWhen I first stumbled upon Deb Perlman's food blog Smitten Kitchen, I was home with a small toddler and on a mad Google quest for homemade cracker recipes. Goldfish crackers specifically. My sister had recently exposed my son to the highly seductive, cheesy toddler staple and I wasn’t having it. I was on a passionate whole grain, non-boxed snack mission, and I approached it with the fervor that only a well-meaning and admittedly obsessive new mother can know.   

While it was Perlman’s labor intensive goldfish snack cracker recipe that reeled me in (I know..), I quickly found that while she would indulge my whim for scratch baked versions of boxed favorites, the vast majority of her recipes are much less demanding. Her specialty is simple, uncomplicated food that tastes delicious and leaves the impression that you’re a much better cook than you really are (I may only be speaking for myself here). 

Perlman makes her creations in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment kitchen that doesn’t allow for huge productions.  Me in my teeny tiny Portland ranch kitchen can appreciate that kind of efficiency and I've learned to trust that if a Smitten Kitchen recipe takes more than 30 minutes to make or 3 bowls to mix in, it’s because that’s the way it has to be, because it will be worth it.  While I still visit the blog fairly regularly, when The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out, I quickly made space on my crowded kitchen shelf.

If you invite me to a potluck, it’s a fair bet that I’ll be bringing some variety of baked dish from this book.  The caramelized onion and butternut squash galette is a fool-proof crowd pleaser and when I breeze in twenty minutes late, with play clay stuck to my pants and Legos in my coat pocket, 'galette' just makes more of an impact than 'casserole.'

I love cooking in late winter and early spring, because this is the time of year that you can get really experimental. In the summer, from the time the asparagus and rhubarb start to sprout until you get those last tomatoes, there’s all this pressure to eat local, eat what’s ripe right now. Then in the fall, everyone wants comfort food, which is heavily prescribed by tradition. Roast chicken! Minestrone soup! Pot roast! Next, the holidays come along, and if you don’t cook just what everyone’s come to expect from you during the holidays, there  might be a rebellion.

But now, at least until May, we can go a little crazy in the kitchen and try new things. For me, that means checking out some of the library’s wide collection of international cookbooks and traveling the world a little, in a culinary way. And now, after the excesses of the holiday and while the rain is falling down outside, we want lighter recipes that take us to warm and sunny places.

Try Jerusalem by by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, two cooks who were raised in opposite ends of that city and inspired by its cuisine. My husband and I both cook and peruse a lot of cookbooks, and often when we look at cookbooks, we’re all, “Ho-hum, we’ve seen this before.” Jerusalem’s recipes are new and exciting, full of contrasts and sunshine. Make chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice and a spinach salad with dates and almonds.

Or head off to Vietnam with its beguiling combination of salty, sweet, hot and sour. A great book to explore Vietnamese food is Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. You will be inspired by this cookbook's big, gorgeous pictures to cook delicious things like Lemongrass Beef Stew and a salad with leeks and roasted eggplants.

Visit India with Madhur Jaffrey, who has released a bunch of cookbooks celebrating Indian food, most recently At Home with Madhur Jaffrey. She has the knack of taking exotic, ingredients-laden recipes and making them seem utterly doable in your home kitchen. This is a great cookbook for someone who is exploring Indian cuisine for the first time. Cook Salmon in a Benghali Mustard Sauce and treat yourself to Kheer, a saffron- and cardamom-scented rice pudding, for dessert.

Portland is rich in international grocery stores where you can find the ingredients you’ll need to cook some of these recipes, and even trips to Fubonn, Barbur World Foods, or International Foods Supply can make you feel like you're traveling. Bon voyage!

In 2011, the  United States Department of Agriculture replaced the idea of the Food Pyramid with My Plate ,which gives you a plan to figure out what you need to eat to be healthy. But not everyone agreed that My Plate represented healthy eating habits. Healthy Eating Plate vs. USDA Eating Plate argues that the USDA plan was influenced by political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists. They said that their plan, created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, is better because it’s based on science.

 

There are also food pyramids created to represent Latino, Asian, African Heritage and Mediterranean Diet food cultures. Which ones match the way you eat? If you need more help researching diet and nutrition, feel free to contact a librarian.

 

At this year's Portland Zine Symposium, we found that quite a few zinesters were offering new zines about food - from the practical to the poetic to the bizarre. Read, relish, cook, laugh, enjoy!

(Also, check out our other blog post about new zines from the Zine Symposium!)

 

FoodStampFoodie3Food Stamp Foodie #3 by Virginia Paine

This issue of Food Stamp Foodie includes recipes, self-care tips and DIY projects in comics form. Simple vegan recipes, easy sewing projects and more!

 

Carnage

Carnage by Kelly

A zine about cooking and eating meat, from the perspective of an author who was formerly vegetarian.

 

 

KosherKosher

A zine about eating kosher!

 

 

Burgermancer

Burgermancer #1 by Jason “JFish” Fischer

A burger fanzine, full of comics, recipes, reviews and articles - all about burgers. It’s delightfully weird, and features an interview with Hamburger Harry, burger connoisseur and curator at the Hamburger Museum.

 

FlavorFlavor by Sofie Sherman-Burton

Rich prose (or prose poems?) recalling the author’s most prominent food memories.

 

 

Burrito Burrito BurritoBurrito Burrito Burrito: A Zine Created for Burrito Lovers by Serena H.  

Origins of the burrito, recipes, interviews with burrito experts, log of burritos eaten in Portland. Focuses on vegetarian and vegan burritos.

 

Brew Your Own KombuchaMake Your Own Ginger AleBrew Your Own Kombucha

Make Your Own Ginger Ale

both by Kione

These two teeny-tiny 8-page zines feature clear instructions and tips for making your own kombucha and ginger ale!

 

I started reading The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti late last week.
The subtitle says it all. Love, betrayal, revenge, great cheese. If there were room on the cover I would add the words 'Family' and 'Sun-burned Small-town Spain'.
For the first couple days I would think about the book for hours, clock-watching until I could get a few more minutes with it. But it's the kind of book that deserves more than 15 minutes between loads of laundry and emptying the dishwasher. It deserves a quiet space and a steaming cup of coffee. Now one week in I'm getting up extra early to read in bed during that delicious time before the city is awake. Every single page is densely packed with delicious writing and humor. There are on-page footnotes (love them) that make a Siamese twin to the story itself.
I'm not finished yet but I can tell you this book is my favorite of the year. And I know in my heart that Paterniti will find himself receiving accolades and awards for months to come.

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