Kitchen Shelf: Kathleen’s Favorite Soup Books

Campbell's was right: Soup is good food. But it's even better for you if you make it yourself. If you’re craving more creamy, hearty, vegetable-y happiness by the bowlful, here are some of my favorite soup cookbooks. Be sure to check out my post, How to Make Soup out of (Almost) Anything. Splendid Soups Talk about hearty. James Peterson’s robust 600-plus-pager is a soup lit classic. With almost 300 recipes– from simple … [Read more...]

Legacy: Read a book, do what you love

My friend Kim Ricketts died last Monday.  She was tough-minded, big-hearted, interested in seemingly everything, generous to a fault. She created book events featuring authors and in doing so, used her life's passion for reading to create an unusual community. She was much loved here in Seattle, but her reach in the publishing industry was extensive. The day after she died, my publicist in New York sent me an email. … [Read more...]

The Gumbo Pages

In advance of Mardi Gras, I really would like to point everyone to one of the resources I've relied on for years: The Gumbo Pages. Run by Chuck Taggart, a native of New Orleans later transplanted to Los Angeles, who has hosted a couple of gumbo-themed television shows. I first wrote about The Gumbo Pages in late 1995, when I edited a magazine called Internet Underground. Yes, you read that right -- he's been at it since … [Read more...]

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

The more that I study why and how people cook at home, the more that I understand the importance of a book such as Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner, 2009). Noted food writer Michael Ruhlman lays out a simple premise: If you understand the fundamental ratios for some basic culinary tasks ranging from biscuits to stock to vinaigrette, the less a cook has to rely on recipes. After all, … [Read more...]

How to Cook Without a Book

Along the same lines of Ratio, there’s How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Broadway, 2000) by Pam Anderson, author of The Perfect Recipe series. Each chapter focuses on a classic technique. Each includes a step-by-step narrative on the method, offers a recipe to demonstrate the technique and then provides multiple, yet simple variations. An unusual twist is that each chapter … [Read more...]

The Flavor Bible

The final entry is The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page. In interviews with home cooks, one thing became a common refrain when it came to that moment of standing in front of the fridge, trying to figure out dinner, or the farmer’s market shopper who purchases beautiful golden beets without a vague idea on … [Read more...]

Kitchen Shelf: No Knead Bread Books

We rarely buy bread anymore. As I write this, a vat of whole wheat bread dough languishes in our fridge. Mike made the dough over the weekend and has since fashioned four loaves for various holiday eating events. All of this is possible due to the no knead artisan bread phenomenon. Most people credit the whole thing to Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. Food writer Mark Bittman documented Lahey's method … [Read more...]

The End of the Line

What would the world be like if there were no more fish? It’s a possibility based on current fishing practices laid out in the excellent, if devastating book The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat by British journalist Charles Clover (University of California Press, 2008). The book is the foundation of an utterly depressing documentary The End of the Line that debuted at the Sundance … [Read more...]