Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Reveiw of Sorts...

I've been meaning to post this for a long time: a listing of my favorite cook books.

It most certainly doesn't mean I've cooked everything in them; it's just that these are the cookbooks I read--and cook from--with pleasure. I'm sure I'll add to this list as I cook from books I have but haven't touched (Silver Spoon, anyone?), and others that I haven't bought yet (Laurel's Bread Book; Peter Rhinehart's Whole Grain Baking). It's a work-in-progress.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
This is cookbook is by the man behind the hilarious NY Times food videos. While he doesn't cook everything exactly to my taste, I can usually get a good recipe out of this one. And, as the title says, it does seem to have a recipe for just about--everything. My sister, Sharon, who is part of a CSA, can usually go to her handy-dandy HTCE to find a recipe for anything strange that might arrive in her veggie package. And it usually tastes good, too.

The Best (so far):
(Soaked) Lighter, Sweeter Cornbread
Sand Cake (With orange glaze)
Basic Pot Roast
Bean Croquettes
Thai or Asian Recipes (I don't always cook these, but they help inspire other things)
Moros y Christianos (Black beans with Rice)
Coconut Macaroons
Pear (or Peach) Clafoutis

Joy of Cooking--1997 ed.
A lot of people--at least since the new edition--have disced this cookbook, claiming that it "doesn't hold up to the standards of the old 1975 edition", or something like that. Well, call me a food nerd, but I really like this edition. I'm guaranteed a great recipe from this cookbook, no matter what. It's got my favorite banana bread recipe, bar none. It's got a great meat section--even some game, which I don't even think Mark Bittman has. (Figures. He lives in a city.) The only thing I truly begrudge it for is that they left out the canning section that's in the 1975 ed. (I have that one, too... lol), and that they took out an awesome key lime pie recipe.

The Best (so far):
Banana Bread
Roast Chicken with vegetables
Bread Pudding
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Kale with Bacon
Carrot Cake
Buttermilk Layer Cake (A little crumbly, but would be awesome with a lemon glaze)
Lemon Curd
Sticky Buns
Buche de Noel
Chocolate Genoise
Buttercream Filling/Frosting

King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking
This is my latest acquisition, and it was worth every penny I paid for it. A lot of the recipes are not fully whole-grain, but I've forged ahead and made them with all freshly-ground flour. So far, I've not had one flop. Their cakes, so far, are superb. And their Honey-Whole Wheat biscuits are to die for. There's a lot more in here I've just not had time to try yet--Whole-Grain Puff Pastry to make croissants or dainishes with, crackers, and tons of pies and pastry. I'll eventually get around to it.

The Best (so far):
Honey-Whole Wheat biscuits
Chocolate Pound Cake
Lemon-Cornmeal Poundcake

The Cook's Bible by Christopher Kimball
While I don't always appreciate the dictatorial tone of this cook book, I had to include it for the sake of a lovely chocolate cake and some of the best cookie recipes ever. It was also my original inspiration behind brining poultry of any kind, and has a bread section that comprehensively explains the baking process.

The Best (so far):
Chocolate Cake
Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Molassas Spice Cookies
Sugar Cookies (with many variations)

Julia Child's The French Chef Cookbook
This is one of those cookbooks that I love to read. Julia has such a way with words and is pure-t hilarious, even in recipe writing. And even though her recipes always have enough butter in them to choke a cow, there are special occasions that merit it. I've not cooked a lot out of this one--it's based off the old TV series-- but what I've cooked has always turned out well.

The Best (so far):
Le Marquis au Chocolate (chocolate genoise with buttercream frosting and ganache)
Les Supremes (one of the best-tasting white-meat chicken recipes ever) with risotto
Brioche (I've not actually cooked this one, but Julia was the only one who could give me a decent description of incorporating butter into yeast dough.)

Cook Something by Mitchell Davis
This is the wild-card of the bunch. It's not necessarily a great cookbook, though it does have some good recipes. It's just that this one book seems to capture the gamut of feelings as far as cooking is concerned. The I-don't-wanna-cook to the I-must-cook-now-because-I-must---it's all here.

The Best (reads or recipes):
Just-Between-You-And-Me Mashed Potatoes
Adam's Big Pancake
Mister Bean
Rita's Dinner Special
Scary Prefab Surprise

Happy reading!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A flash from the past...

I was over at a friend's house last night, and I saw something I hadn't seen in years:

--From when I was in high school and thought I was an artiste--lol--

It kinda makes me miss it.

I got to introduce them to real bread and chat it up--it was a lot of fun.

On another note, I'm on Spring Break this week. It's a taste of summer, with the bittersweet regret of the shortness of time. I think teachers--and their students--need at least a two-week break.

59 As sure as that warm sun bathes across the fields when it's blistered from the winter's cold, there's got to be... That sun is put here for something. Down beneath there, somewhere, unseen to the human eye, is vegetation and life, that'll spring forth again, because that the sun was sent for that very same purpose.
And just as sure as the sunlight of God bathes into the human heart, there's a little hidden something there that men can't explain. It's calling out. There's got to be somewhere. I think of that, and my heart quivers for joy to know that we have the supreme evidence today that Christ raised from the dead.
Now, and I think of the times of the Old Testament too, when they looked forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus, when they foresaw Him and worshipped at the very thoughts of it. There was something in them calling out, a deep calling to a deep, waiting for a time, looking forward to the time when Jesus would come. Now, today, after He has come...
Now, back there Satan tried to blind the eyes of those who looked forward to it, to tell them that there was no such. But somehow or another, beyond anything that we can say this morning, but as the Holy Spirit pushed on their heart and give them a hunger and a thirst that there was coming a just One...
Job, now think, four thousand years, four thousand years before the coming of the Lord Jesus, Job saw the resurrection. And when he saw it by a vision, that it would be four thousand years before it happened, he had the assurance that, "I know my Redeemer liveth, and at the last days He will stand on the earth: though the skin worms destroys this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I'll see for myself, mine eyes shall behold, and not another." There was a deep calling to the deep in Job.
Satan might try to blot it out with death. He might say, "Yes, Job, you're going into the grave. Skin worms will take your body." That's right. We know that.
But Job said, "I'll stand at the last days with Him." He had the assurance that he was going to be there, for there was something in Job that told him that. And as Satan tried his best to blot it with death and everything, Job looked forward to it, to seeing it. Died in the faith, gave up the ghost, rose again on Easter morning with Christ, is immortal among men today. Hallelujah. Notice. No wonder the Angelic beings can sing, "Hallelujah." Know...

--God Bless.