Cookbook briefs.

Yep, I’ve been into the cookbooks again…here are a few I really, REALLY like:


The Sprouted Kitchen:  A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara Forte, photographed by Hugh Forte (2012, Ten Speed Press, U.S.A.)

All I can say is YUM – everything in this cookbook looks delicious.  (As I write this, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, but trust me, it’s true).  Fabulous photos and lots of clearly-written recipes, with an easy-on-the-eyes layout AND some interesting personal anecdotes…what more can you ask for in a cookbook?  While it’s not vegetarian or vegan, Forte goes heavy on the veggies, and that’s just perfect for me.  I’ve already selected some must-trys for the week’s menu (Fennel Slaw, Mashies and Greens, Tangled Carrot and Broccoli Sprout Salad with Tahini Dressing, and Multigrain Carrot-Date Muffins), and I think this will be a new go-to cookbook.   Preview the goodness by checking out Forte’s blog at


Canning and Preserving Without Sugar by Norma M. MacRae, R.D.  (4th Edition, The Globe Pequot Press, Connecticut, 1997)

Sugar is the preservative in most canning recipes – the ingredient that makes it possible for you to store your jams, jellies, chutneys, veggies, fruits etc. for long periods of time (the processing methods are important as well, of course).  As anyone who cans knows, the amount of sugar in a batch of jam or jelly is often staggering, and you cannot alter the quantity in the recipe without spoiling it.  What to do if you’re on a low sugar diet – or just want to substitute something a little healthier, such as honey?  Well, MacRae’s book will tell you!  There are variations for canning using unsweetened fruit juice and plain water, as well as honey (artificial sweeteners are not recommended as they cannot properly preserve food and some may even pose a health risk if used in canning).  Of course, not adding sugar means you have to adjust pectin types to allow for set, so MacRae covers all of the essentials you need to know about whether to use pectin or not (in which case you might use agar-agar or unflavoured gelatin), or regular pectin versus low-methoxy pectin solution.  Sound a bit like playing with a chemistry set?  It is, rather – but the recipes are no more difficult than those for regular canning using sugar.  This book is all business (there are no photos), but it’s valuable for anyone wanting to safely and properly can without sugar.  I’ve bookmarked several recipes I’m going to give a go this summer!


The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook :  More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook by Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean (2012, Running Press, Philadelphia)

You can gather from the title that this cookbook is a ton of fun, and it is.  From the spiffy layout and retro fonts to the selection of tried and true classics (meatloaf, pan-fried steak, roast beef, fried chicken, Sloppy Joes, creamed corn, buttermilk rolls, cream of tomato soup, mac and cheese, Swedish meatballs, baked Alaskan…egad, now I’m STARVING), and pop culture/history bites from the period, it’s a delight to pore through.  Best of all, the recipes all seem to be completely accessible – there isn’t one in here that has a ton of hard-to-find ingredients or complicated procedures to follow…plus they’ve been updated slightly so they’re a bit healthier than the originals.  No matter how kitchen-centric you are, this is a cookbook for everyone!

And, yes, in case you’re wondering, there is a recipe for aspic, and SPAM shows up for a visit in one as well.  They had to, you know.  There’s a law or something.


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