BEER AND FOOD; bringing together the finest food and the best craft beers (Dog 'n' Bone Books, 2014; distr. T. Allen, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-909313-23-1, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Mark Dredge, a UK award-winning (four times) beer writer. This is his second book: the first was "Craft Beer World". There is much more of his writing at his blog www.pencilandspoon.com. He looks at different combinations of beer and food, and tells us how best to enjoy them together. The first half of the book covers the making of beers and the different 30 or so styles, with general information on food pairing by tasting what is in the food and what is in the beer. For each style he describes what he would match to it and why, with stories about the food and the beers. About 150 specific beers are mentioned (none from Canada) from around the world, with bottle shots. This part deals with beer matched with food. This is followed by more principles on matching (this time) food with beer, about 150 different foods. There is an index that pulls all this together. There is also a short chapter at the end for some highlighted 50 recipes on cooking WITH beer (and of course matched to the same beer). Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. But for some reason there are two pages on apple ciders! Which is totally out of place in a beer book. If you have international apple ciders, why not also have international perries? (or is it perrys?)
Audience and level of use: those beer lovers really interested in food matching.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: brewmaster's pie, beer jelly, beer ice cream, BBQ ribs with Belgian beer, Gueuze chicken vindaloo, and chicken and Wit pie.
The downside to this book: I got tired quickly of reading type on a background of feint or pastel colours.
The upside to this book: good matches, and lovely detailed work.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
4.BETTY CROCKER: the big book of breakfast and brunch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-24770-3, $19.99 US paper covers) delivers full value at low price – 200 recipes are here, in a book with French covers (which tells me how serious they are). There's nothing stunning here, just comprehensive for families and singles who entertain. While there's the Triple-Threat Antioxidant Smoothie and homemade granola bars, there are also only ten gluten-free baked goods (according to the index). Still, the range is wide and useful: cereals, eggs/bacon, pancakes/waffles, French toast, hearty brunch dishes, and many coffee cakes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. I love the large typeface and white space. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
5.IDIOT'S GUIDES: Gluten-Free Eating (Alpha Books, 2014; distr. DK Books, 318 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-423-0, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Elizabeth King Humphrey and Jeanette Hurt. There is a primer on gluten and the GF lifestyle, plus shopping and menus. Included are tips for marketing, traveling, and eating out at restaurants. There are also about 100 recipes plus substitution lists to convert family favourites. This is a real boon to celiacs. It is a basic book with resources lists and glossary. The preps have yields, prep time, cook time, serving size, and nutritional data. They've got an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (flours of white and brown rice, sorghum, plus starches of tapioca and potato). But of course this lacks the chew factor of a crusty bread. Ah, well...Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.IDIOT'S GUIDES: the Chia Seed Diet (Alpha Books, 2014; distr. DK Books, 286 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-441-4, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Bud E. Smith (a how-to writer), Paul Plotkin (chef and caterer), and Joesph Ewing RD. The chia seed is high in protein, fibre, antioxidants, and Omega-3 oils. It is also gluten-free and an acknowledged superfood. All of this lowers blood pressure, helps with weight loss, improves heart and brain functions, and reduces glucose levels. There are about 100 recipes (plus menu planning) here for dishes, from breakfast through dessert, with many tips for incorporating chia seeds into vegan, gluten-free, Paleo and other diets. When dining out, just pour out a few onto the dish. Easy enough. There are also menus and shopping lists, and even a few purchasable products. It is a basic book with resources lists of books and the Internet, and a glossary. The preps have yields, prep time, cook time, serving size, and nutritional data. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.IDIOT'S GUIDES: Grilling (Alpha Books, 2014; distr. DK Books, 312 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-456-8, $21.95 US paper covers) is by Thomas N. England, a certified chef and former general manager of Chateau Thomas winery. He is now teaching cooking in Indianapolis. In a well-illustrated volume he covers the basics of grilling, with colour photos and tips from his life. It is a step-by-step method, so it is virtually goof-proof. There's data on how to choose a grill or smoker, cooking beef-pork-lamb-poultry-fish (separate chapters), and also veggies and fruit. He also advocates jowl meat over bacon, although prices are creeping up for both now. Hard to go wrong here, as they say "as easy as it gets" in about 100 easy-to-grill recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 85.
8.IDIOT'S GUIDES: The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook (Alpha Books, 2014; distr. DK Books, 290 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-445-2, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Denise Hazime, of Lebanese extraction and owner of www.dedemed.com where she teaches Mediterranean cooking through instructional videos. She's got over 200 preps concentrating on the high consumption of olive oil, fruits, and veggies. Included are legumes and whole grains, a moderate consumption of dairy-wine-fish, and a low consumption of meat and meat products. All of this is combined with daily physical activity. Basically, meat is considered a garnish, and eat your greens. It is one of the healthiest diets in the world. The primer here introduces us to the Mediterranean pantry, followed by the recipes for breakfasts, brunch, lunch, snacks, and suppers. Everything was checked out by Mary Rodavich, a registered dietician. As with all such guides, it is pretty elementary and basic, but also, of course, a useful exploration and explanation. There's a glossary and nutritional tables. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 85.
9.IDIOT'S GUIDES: Canning and Preserving (Alpha Books, 2014; distr. DK Books, 280 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-460-5, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Trish Sebben-Krupka, a cookbook author and corporate chef for the Viking Culinary Center. She teaches classes in home food preservation as well as catering vegan, vegetarian and eco-friendly meals. She encourages the reader to stock up with veggies and fruits, especially if a deal can be made. Then the reader can get down to doing all kinds of preservation to get through the winter. So there is advice on tools and equipment, the techiques of freezing-drying-pickling, how to prepare raw items for preservation, and making dehydrated foods. Then it is on to step-by-step photos illustrating canning jams, jellies, pie fillings and other fruits. Pickling is largely reserved for veggies, although I also did not see any recipe for cherry pickles. Fermented foods get their section, as well as pressure-canned foods. And there are recipes for chutneys and salsas. A good basic book, with a glossary and a bibliography for additional reading. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/Price Rating: 86.
10.EATING CULTURE; an anthropological guide to food (University of Toronto Press, 2013, 324 pages, ISBN 978-1-4416-0465-0, $34.95 CAN paper covers) is by Gillian Crowther, an anthropology prof at Capilano University in Vancouver. It is a primer-guide to the food component of social anthropology: the study of everyday lives of ordinary people anywhere. Food is pretty basic, always, as she says, eaten locally, whether locally produced or globally sourced. The range here is broad, from ingredients to recipes to meals to menus, around the world and throughout all time. She gives it all some structure and management through sections dealing with omnivores, food rules, dietary taboos (and their origins), nutritional concerns (and government mandated regulations), food gathering, evolution of cuisines, agriculture, intensification and commercialization, domestic and restaurant cooking plus street food, recipes, feasts, locavorism, farmers' markets, and takeouts. Other topics include food waste, table manners, food tourism, and sharing. Specifically for Canada, there are details on commercial fisheries, Canada Food Guides, labelling and GMOs, and ethnic restaurants. While ingress is covered for nutrition and balance, there is little if anything on the egress of food through our internal waste system. I suppose there should be a book on sanitation and body waste management. There are black and white illustrations, plus a colour pix section. There's a glossary and a long bibliography, with internal page references within the body of the book. What makes the book really good is that it is a readable framework for social anthropology. Quality/Price Rating: 90.
11.THE CARNIVORE'S MANIFESTO (Little, Brown, 2014, 260 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-25624-7, $26 US hard covers) is by Patrick Martins (owner of Heritage Foods USA and a founder of Slow Food USA) and Mike Edison (a professional writer on the counterculture). Together, they write about eating responsibly and eating well, and also eating meat. The book has some log rolling from Waters and Batali, as well as Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food International. Martins services over 150 restaurants every week, delivering specialty breeds that have been cared for according to Slow Food principles: Akaushi cattle, Columbian Wyandotte chicken, Kiko goat, Bourbon Rd turkey, Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, and many more. Here are fifty short chapters all dealing with a variety of topics involving sustainability and meat – and hey, there is a long index, which immediately makes the book an invaluable read, and a bibliography for further reading. Selected topics include: media campaigns of the industrial farming complex, political correctness, locavores, slaughterhouses, The Whole Earth Catalog, goats, baking, trucking industry, and many more. You could read a couple every night before bedtime.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
12.THE BEEKMAN 1802 HEIRLOOM VEGETABLE COOKBOOK (Rodale, 2014, 276 pages, ISBN 978-1-60961-575-8, $32.50 US hard covers) is by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, founders of Beekman 1802, a lifestyle company centred around their farm in New York. They've authored two other cookbooks for Rodale. Here, the book is arranged by season, beginning with Spring, to celebrate the bounty of food from a kitchen garden on their farm. They aim to create memories around the table with a variety of dishes that follow the seasons. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. There are about a hundred recipes here, two dozen or so a season, along with a listing of some seven seed companies that sell heirloom seeds.
Audience and level of use: budding farmers and slow food consumers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: golden gazpacho with minted cream; veggie cheddar breakfast muffins; roasted cauliflower steaks with orange-olive sauce; penne with roasted salmon, asparagus, peas and ramps; Asian-style pea shoots with garlic, ginger and sesame; collard greens and apple with hot dressing.
The downside to this book: I really missed metric measurements
The upside to this book: good looking photos
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
13.PICKLED & PACKED; recipes for artisanal pickles, preserves, relishes & cordials (Ryland Peters and Small, 2014, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-490-3, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Valerie Aikman-Smith, an LA based food stylist who has done work for films (e.g. Titanic) and TV, as well as authored other cookbooks. She's got the old classics and new contemporaries for us, sorted into five chapters dealing with pickling, relish/mustards, bottled veggies/fruit, candied fruits, and liqueurs. Her short recipes show how to pickle and preserve, while the longer recipes show how to create whole meals. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: the adventuresome.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: spicy kimchi hash browns with poached eggs; west coast crab cakes; salade nicoise with pickled eggs and onions; artisanal cheeseboards; lobster & lemon potato salad; rosemary & thyme mustard; frangipane tart with vin santo plums; barley water.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
14.ASIAN PICKLES (Ten Speed Books, 2014, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-476-4, $19.99 US hard covers) is by Karen Solomon, a food writer and blogger. She's authored other "preservation" cookbooks, including a series dealing with Asian Pickles available as e-cookbooks. So here she concentrates on sweet, sour, salty, cure3d and fermented preserves, arranged by country beginning with Japan. That lead to Korea, China, India and the rest of "Southeast Asia" such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Mayalsia. There's a glossary and a resources list of books and websites. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Her primer deals with unique techniques for Asian pickles and a variety of "quick pickles". There are about 75 recipes in all, and most are photographed. Included, of course, are the classics of Korean kimchi and Indian chutney.
Audience and level of use: adventuresome intermediate cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: apples in mustard with mint; Chinese preserved vegetables; coconut-cilantro chutney; paneer-stuffed pickled chiles; pickled chiles with lime (Thailand).
The downside to this book: nothing, really.
The upside to this book: a great idea for a cookbook.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.