Anyone around me regularly knows I’m a voracious reader. Mike can’t seem to put in enough bookshelves. I’ve been posting what I’ve been reading via #Fridayreads on Twitter, but I’ve decided to list them here on the blog each week, too. What follows aren’t really reviews per se, but a book listed here is generally a recommendation.
I’m researching a new book that takes place in 18th Century London and focuses (in part) on the curious world of gin. So, in the past week, I’ve checked out all the books on gin from the Seattle Library System. (The look on the librarian’s face was worth the hassle of carting 22 books home.) I’m working my way through the stack, but so far my favorite book is Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason. Author Jessica Warner offers thorough research combined with concise writing on the madness that took over the capitol in the early 1700s. It had so much good information that rather than mark up the library copy, I had to buy my own.
I had to track down a copy of London Eats Out: 500 Years of Capitol Dining published by the Museum of London, but it was so worth it. Organized by century, with break outs on early food writing, the dominance of beef steak dining clubs and loads of illustrations, it’s a thin volume that packs in a load of information. It kind of reminded me of one of those old Time-Life series books.
I also finished the galley of My Berlin Kitchen, the upcoming book by Luisa Weiss, creator of The Wednesday Chef. It’s terrific. I’ve been impressed by the clarity of her writing, her honesty, the story pacing and the gushy, wonderful love story. It comes out in September. Go pre-order it now.
I attended the launch party for Pike Place Market Recipes by Jess Thompson on Tuesday, so I’ve only had a chance to look through it but it’s a lovely book featuring purveyors and restaurants in and around Seattle’s iconic market along with 130 recipes. Talking to her the next day, I learned it will be one of four books she’ll have coming out in a two-year time period. I feel like such a slacker.
Every week, I rotate a couple of cookbooks onto my kitchen counter. This week (well, the past two weeks), one of them has been Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals by the incomparable Pam Anderson. She writes recipes in such a useful way that I’m always recommending her books to people. This one features a clear “master recipe” and then countless variations on the main theme. I’ve used her book so much in the past couple of weeks that it’s actually changed our usual eating routine. I’m now making grain-based salads, versions of her grab-and-go breakfast tortillas and variations on Asian stir fry. If you’re trying to cut down on your meat consumption, give it a look. Pam has a knack for coming up with cooking strategies for busy people.
Finally, I’ve been entranced by Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruit and Vegetables by Cheryl Sternman Rule with photography by Paulette Philipot. It provides a dose of gorgeous food porn plus pragmatic and useful ideas on how to use even the most obscure vegetables.
The latter has been useful in developing the class that I’ll be teaching at The Book Larder in Seattle next Tuesday. I think there are a couple slots left in you’re interested.