|The cookbook shelf. It's getting out of hand.|
When R & I met nearly nine *gasp!* years ago, I could barely boil potatoes. Things have come a long way since. I can braise, poach, blend and create memorable, healthy and loving dishes. Before, R had to help me saute stir fry. We've come a long way. But, we had a lot of help.
It all started about 5 years ago in NYC. In our closet sized kitchen (I'm not lying), I started to get interested in eating healthy. I realized in high school that if I was going to stay a healthy weight and be healthy, I needed to work out. Well, getting to the gym everyday wasn't happening and my genes didn't bless me with a high metabolism. In fact I'm certain I have a high genetic probability for heart disease and diabetes. Yeah, no thanks. So I started small after I went into sales and missed the mixing of small amounts of liquids in the lab - I traded that in for cooking. I bought a Le Creuset pot on sale at Bloomie's and got to it. I wanted to cook with whole grains. So I got the "Whole Grains" book by Lorna Sass. Awesome stuff. Tells you how to cook any grain you want and has fantastic recipes and great food porn (of food people!!). For my GF friends, I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Then came Jaques Pepin. His book, "Fast Food My Way" taught me that OMG, I should actually eat more veggies! His recipes are fantastic, but not really "fast" in the American sense; they usually take an hour. Still, it launched me into my love of cooking. In a serendipitous encounter in the Williams and Sonoma in Columbus Circle, I found Heidi Swansons "Super Natural Cooking" book on super sale and fell in love instantly. Her recipes center around superfoods, natural sweeteners, vegetables and other good for you foods. Another favorite.
Since I've adopted the philosophy of food is medicine, "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair is my most go-to book. It's literally falling apart and completely food stained by many hasty nights of cooking. If I'm to give a gift, it's this book (just sent one to A & T in Paris as a house warming gift). Plus, for those with families or who want to have a family, it gives suggestions on how to adapt the recipe in question for baby. And I love how she has great suggestions for pairs to make complete meals; ie carb, veg and protein (another philosophy I have that each meal should have all of those components). I have to include Bi-Rite's "Eat Good Food" here too because it talks all about the very things I'm passionate about - eat good food, locally, organically, in season and sustainably. This book gives the recipes of some of Bi-Rite's dishes that they sell and also information on how to buy and store produce and meats. Just got this book, but I've already given one as a gift and love it to pieces (but it's still intact - tee-hee).
Two books I'm in love with recently are "A Spoonful of Ginger" by Nina Simonds and "Heirloom Beans" from Rancho Gordo. The Sp. of Ginger book is excellent because it follows Chinese Medicine and gives suggestions on what to eat when you're not feeling well or what the recipe can be helpful for. The recipes are simplistic and full of flavor. It's all Chinese food, but traditional Chinese food, not Chinese restaurant food. This is a great one. The Heirloom Beans book is what I used to make the Good Mother Stallard soup the other day. This is a recent purchase and I haven't used it much, but this is to solidify my commitment to eating more beans.
Lastly, a few loved boutique books that are great are "The Flavor Bible" and Tartine's baking book. The Flavor Bible is best if you're trying to pair flavors together and not following a recipe. It's a great reference book. And I made the most incredible Chocolate Flourless cake out of Tartine's book. For my GF friends, this book probably isn't for you, but it's my dream to one day follow their 15 pages of instructions on how to make croissants! Even though I shouldn't eat them... so what. I'll suffer just for the opportunity to try to make croissants! I didn't photograph Chez Panisse's "Vegetables" book, but that's a great one too if you have a CSA and don't know what to do with that f*&!ing veggie that they gave you. I like her style too- she doesn't give many measurements, more just gives suggestions on how to make excellent seasonal food.
In the new year I'll have a post on essential kitchen equipment that I recommend. It's not much, but it is essential, and in my opinion, some of the best ways of cooking foods.
One caveat here: I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen. I get home from my 9 hour day at work and 2 hour commute and spend about 2+ more hours in the kitchen chopping, sauteeing, cooking, eating and cleaning. It's a lot of work. But SO worth the effort. Being gluten free, it's the best way that I can ensure a healthy, tasty lunch the next day! And a wonderful way to end the day!
Any favorite cookbooks you'd like to share with me? Any fantastic recipes you cannot live without? I'm a bit of a cookbook whore, so please share with me your loved books! I want to try them!
I'll be back the second week of January as we're headed to Cozumel for a week to celebrate my Dad's 60th Birthday! Cannot wait to go blow bubbles at some fish (ie scuba dive), relax in the sun, catch up on the "Game of Thrones" series (on book 4! agh! SO good!) and find some good tequila to bring home. Please have a safe and enjoyable New Year's!
P.S. kpzor is my baby name that my big bro gave me - pronounced k.p.zor (K.P. is my first and middle initials). :)