September 2, 2015

2015 Cookbook Challenge: Savory September

In the fall, ones thoughts turn to soups, stews and baking...especially now that Seattle's wild summer heat wave has abated. With that thought, my mind went to a few books in my collection that, on the surface, are baking books, but that I knew had more than baked goods to offer.

I could only find two books in my collection that met that criteria (I have lots of books that have a mix of recipes, but only these two had a focus on baking): The Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook by Leslie Mackie and Once Upon a Tart... by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau.

I've done some baking from the Macrina book (and enjoyed many more baked goods from her bakeries in Belltown and on Queen Anne). Her Squash Harvest Loaf is the bomb, but I've only ogled the lunch entree recipes thus far. I've made a few tarts from Once Upon A Tart, mostly back when I was hosting bridal and baby showers for my little sister, and a favorite is the Provencal Tart with Gruyere and Herbes de Provence (which Jeff has has been begging me to make again for a few weeks). But there are lots of soups, salads, sandwiches and spreads that look delicious. And more tarts, of course.

My third pick might seem like an odd one, but I've mentioned it to a few of my widowed patients lately who find it difficult and strange to cook only for themselves. I've long admired Judith Jones for her contribution to the culinary world by editing books by some of the greatest cooks of all time, including Julia Child and James Beard (her autobiography The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food is wonderful), and I found her small volume The Pleasures of Cooking for One to be delightful...but I've never actually cooked from it!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program and the book links in this post are affiliate links.

September 1, 2015

2015 Cookbook Challenge: August Wrap

This cookbook wrap up is a little overdue, which is good because, honestly, I didn't crack two of the books until this past weekend (squeaked in under the wire again...yes!).

I was planning to talk about how I sort of bit off more than I could chew (pun intended) when I decided to commit to three cookbooks per month, and how choosing only one cookbook felt like a drop in the bucket, given that I have more than 200 cookbooks. And then dinner happened Sunday night.

I made three recipes from Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, with my husband's help (he manned the cast iron pan): Chicken Breasts with Capers and Black Olives, Smashed Potatoes with Tapenade Crust and Zucchini with Basil, Mint and Parmesan. As we were eating, the inside of our house nearly as smoky as the eastern halves of Oregon and Washington,* Jeff said, "This cookbook challenge has been great! We've had some amazing meals that we wouldn't have had otherwise. And you can quote me on that!"

And so I have.

I thank the Whole30 cookbook for some tasty meals at the beginning of the month that will remain in my semi-regular rotation, and especially for getting me to finally bust out my spiralizer, which may be the best kitchen invention EVER (zoodles rule!). I actually spiralized the zucchini for the Seven Fires recipe, even though it didn't call for it.

Out of The Art of Simple Food, I made Ratatouille of Grilled Vegetables and will make Braised Chicken Legs tomorrow, along with Burnt Carrots with Goat Cheese, Parsley, Arugula and Crispy Garlic Chips from Seven Fires.

Each of these cookbooks is really great in their one way, but for me, Seven Fires has been the standout. The Chimichurri sauce I made to go over grilled steaks on Saturday was wonderfully flavorful (we had it with the above-mentioned Ratatouille). There are so many recipes I want to make from this book! I feel really fortunate that I had the presence of mind to add it to my collection a few years ago, and that I finally cracked it open and started cooking from it. And that, after all, is the whole point of this cookbook challenge (even though I still feel like three books per month was overly ambitious).

And with that, I will have September's picks tomorrow...which means I better go pick them out now!

* While this is NOTHING compared to what is going on in areas like Lake Chelan in Washington and Canyon Creek in Oregon (where I worked as a reporter at The Blue Mountain Eagle in my very first job out of journalism school many moons ago, incidentally), we almost had to evacuate our campsite on the Washington coast last week because someone intentionally set some driftwood pilons in the next loop on fire. We had our pickup loaded with the stuff we couldn't live without (our dog, our beer, my books and magazines, our huge free-standing campstove that we also use for canning), and were resigned to having to leave our trailer behind, when we got the all clear that firefighters had put out the pilon and subsequent brush fire.

August 26, 2015

Rest + Reboot

I'm off camping this week on the Washington coast. As much as I love urban vacations (especially Paris!), I love camping equally because of the space it gives me to just think. There's just something about being in nature, away from daily life and all the electronics that come with it (clearly I wrote this before I left!). On a weekly basis, I try to unplug at least once by going for a long walk along Lake Washington with just my dog. The natural landscape makes it more than just's a restoration.

Don't believe me? Check out these links:
I may have a new post Friday, if I don't get attacked by vampires in Forks. Realistically, it will probably be Monday.