09 July 2008

Kitchen Books

'Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship It is of great importance to the morale.'
~Elsa Schiaparelli

Drew finished painting the kitchen/dining room this weekend and he installed about 75% of the chair rail. It looks lovely! (pictures coming soon...)

I have a large hutch, which holds my china, nice wine glasses, special plates and trays, a few statues and one of my china tea pots, and lots of those odds and ends that make life beautiful, but that aren't all needed everyday.

I have a smaller hutch that I use for, what else? Books!

We emptied both hutches so we could pull them away from the walls to paint. I've got the big hutch put back together (and rearranged), and am working on the smaller one. I have several categories of books in the kitchen, some of which are about to find a new home, but I thought I'd list some of my favorite books in each.
'Where the guests at a gathering are well-acquainted, they eat 20% more than they otherwise would.'
~Edgar Watson Howe


The Professional Chef: This is the text book of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Ours is the 7th edition from 2002. It covers just about anything you can think of, with detailed instructions and pictures of each step. This is the book for those who want to learn the techniques of great chefs.

Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, a DK book: Like all DK books, the photography in this one is superb - two-page spreads of any and every herb and spice you can think of and many you can't. It includes the history of each spice, recipes, foods it goes well with, buying and storing tips, etc. It inspires me every time I browse through it - a bookish food muse.

Culinary Artistry, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page: This isn't so much a cookbook, but a book about food. It includes a few recipes, but is really more about the creativity of composing your own recipes and dishes. Much of the book's value comes from the lists of foods that go well together. This is another of my bookish food muses.

The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook: From the folks who bring us 'Cook's Illustrated Magazine'. I love this book not just for the tried and tested recipes, but also for the plentiful tips in each chapter. I must admit that as much as I love the recipes in 'Cook's Illustrated', I am as fascinated by the articles describing how each recipe was developed and the science behind the different techniques and methods.

I'm Just Here For the Food, Version 2.0, by Alton Brown: His down-to-earth style and clear explanations make this a gem! Also includes lots of sciency bits about how food works.

Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living , par Robert Arbor: Not so much a cookbook as a memoir of Arbor's childhood in France. The recipes are simple, yet elegant. I firmly believe that we Americans eat much too much pre-prepared food, with too many chemicals and additives; I call it 'pseudo-food'. Arbor (another bookish kitchen muse) inspires me to approach food from a different direction and perspective; slower and more thoughtful, yet delicious and family-centered.
'From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting…On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.'
~E.B. White


Dessert Circus at Home: Fun, Fanciful, And Easy To Make Desserts, by Jacques Torres: Yum! I've only made a few of these amazing desserts, but really want to make time to bake more with the kids and this will be one of my sources for the sweet stuff! The only thing is some of his ingredients are a tad hard to find. But that's what online shopping is for!

Williams Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson: I forgot I had this until I pulled it off the shelf last Friday. It's going to be shelved in an easily accessible place for use with the little ones.

The American Boulangerie, by Pascal Rigo: Subtitled French Pastries and Breads for the Home Kitchen, this is one I really knead to get back into. I used to make all our own bread. But the family got too big for me to keep up. I don't know that I want to go back to doing all our baking myself, but I do love to bake bread. Lots of comfort food here.
'In living, and moving and having something of our being in a home culture, even with its all-too-human fuss and bother, if we but smuggle in something of the simple cargo--sturdy, comfortable furniture, fresh food, home cooked meals, good wine, one set of fine china for special meals, paintings and ancestral portraits on the wall, an old upright piano, acoustic guitar, any non-electric instrument, a time set apart to read aloud before prayers and bedtime--if we but make a welcome hearth for the songs of the Muses, we too will know that even on this earth, now and again, a courage will visit among us in those comforting, beautiful reflections of the permanent things, quite surprising yet strangely familiar for us who are passing to and fro in these playful shadows, and we will begin to see as Odysseus recognized, "something very much like perfection.'
~James S. Taylor


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