2.A FARMGIRL'S TABLE (Gibbs Smith, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-4218-3 $24.99 USD hardbound) is a second book on US farm life by Jessica Robinson. She grew up on a Connecticut farm, married and then moved to a North Carolina farm. She writes and photographs for her blog, Carolina Farmhouse Kitchen. It is all homespun and fancy-free, with chapters dealing with the seasons, BBQ, pantries, summer celebrations, hearty meals and desserts at harvest time, breads and pastries, and cooking from scratch. The book is part memoir too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those interested in the farm life, homemakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sausage gravy; berry-swirled pops; red velvet marble cake; tangy farmhouse coleslaw; Gorgonzola-bacon stuffed mushrooms; blueberry-pecan salad; lemon-blueberry scones.
The downside to this book: it's a bit too general in tone.
The upside to this book: a good sequel to The New England Farmgirl.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
3.HOMEGROWN PANTRY (Storey Publishing, 2017, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-578-7, $22.95 USD paperbound) is by Barbara Pleasant, who has written many books on organic gardening. Her articles appear regularly in Mother Earth News/Living. It's a basic guide to planning a garden that will not only feed you through the year but also provide materials for creating a pantry. She's got a gardener's guide to selecting the best varieties and planting the perfect amounts: 55 popular veggies, fruits (berries and tree fruits) and herbs (kitchen and tea). There are also preservation techniques such as canning, pickling, root cellaring, fermenting, and dehydrating. So for corn, there is how much (50 row feet per person), stellar varieties (Luscious, Ambrosia, Bodacious), and best ways to preserve (freeze, can or dry). Very nicely laid out. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: beginning gardeners
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: there's usually one recipe per plant, just the basics to get it all going.
The downside to this book: I'd like at least two recipes per plant.
The upside to this book: an excellent reference book
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
4.WILL IT SKILLET? (Workman, 2017, 208 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-8743-1, $14.95 USD paperbound) is by food writer Daniel Shumski, and a followup to his WILL IT WAFFLE? Book. Here he explores one pan with a variety of different uses. The basic techniques are charring, roasting, baking, and toasting. No need to grill if the skillet can char; no need to toast if the skillet can do it. You can cover it for a braise, do a small paella, make a tortilla, and do a variety of one-pot meals for singles or doubles at home. He has 53 recipes to make in a cast-iron skillet, although many can be made in a stainless steel skillet too. There are many other skillet cookbooks, but this one has a lot of variations, allows you to develop your own skillet recipes, and is also affordable at under $15 US. He covers the range of breakfast, brunch, snacks, sides, mains and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: students, beginning cooks, singles
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: okonomiyaki; Parmesan tuiles; gnocchi with goat cheese and skillet roasted tomatoes; potato-crusted ham quiche; pluot clafoutis.
The downside to this book: I wanted more
The upside to this book: confidence and conversion tables.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.LOVE YOUR LUNCHES (Hardie Grant Books, 2017, 144 pages ISBN 978-1-78488-095-8 $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Bec Dickinson, cake baker, food stylist, and Melbourne OZ blogger. She concentrates on the lunch box "al desko" with 50 riveting lunch bags. She's got some handy tips for lunch on the go, desk drawer essentials, communal feasts and potlucks at work, and healthy snacks for later in the day. It's arranged by format: frozen ahead, the night before preps, the morning preps, the afternoon slump, the leftover-holdover-madeovers, and the sharing. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: students, workers, singles.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: miso salmon parcels with Asian noodles; light and creamy green spelt penne pasta; cajun-spiced sweet potato quinoa fritters; zucchini ribbons with pea mint salad; pearl barley, halloumi and pickled veggie salad.
The downside to this book: I wish there were more recipes.
The upside to this book: good selection for all manner of tastes.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
6.YUMUNIVERSE PANTRY TO PLATE (The Experiment, 2017, 312 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-340-0 $24.95 USD paperbound) is by Heather Crosby, a recipe developer and wellness advocate of plant-based foods. She has created www.glutenfreebakingacademy.com and is the author of YumUniverse: Infinite possibilities for a Gluten-Free, Plant-Powerful, Whole-Food Lifestyle. That book's website offers more than 500 free recipes. Here the stress is on improvising meals from you have around you at home. No real recipes are required. The classic example is putting together some vegetables, some protein, a binder and some herbs/spices to create – veggie burgers! She's got 30 recipe templates to freestyle plant-based, gluten-free meals and snacks, plus 100 preps that show the templates in action. A classic is: flour + sweet + puree + oil + acid = muffins. Well worth looking at. After a primer, chapters begin on page 35 with breakfast, moving on to lunch, mains, and sweets. If you are not vegan, then add-ons are possible (eggs, honey). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements with some metric and some conversion tables (by ingredient) at the back.
Audience and level of use: plant-based eaters, vegans (with a honey caveat)
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: seed-powered acorn squash fries; Chinese five-spice lentil and pecan crunch; buckwheat and chickpea bites; lots-a-noodles red curry soup.
The downside to this book: honey is used in three recipes, but can be omitted.
The upside to this book: There is an cook-by-ingredient index
Quality/Price Rating: 88.