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Wednesday, April 6, 2016


3.HOMEGROWN; celebrating the Canadian foods we grow, raise and produce with 160 recipes (Whitecap, 2015, 407 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-232-1, $39.95 paper covers) is by Mairlyn Smith, madcap TV personality and author of six award-winning cookbooks. She is also a Professional Home Economist (PHEc). Her book contains recipes from a variety of her  sources, such as the Ontario Home Economics Association, some of her students, and her own files, and 17 others which had been previously published. All preps have been acknowledged. She begins with breads and quick-breads, moving on to eggs, cheese, grains, soup, veggies, salads, legumes, pork and lamb, fish and seafood, poultry, beef, and fruit for desserts. So it is a good but basic cookbook in salute of foods grown in Canada (except for a few condiments such as black pepper or capers): lentil soup from Saskatchewan, BC blueberry pie, Nova Scotia scallops, Albertan barley flour pancakes with Quebec maple syrup. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Recipes are sourced as to who was responsible for the prep along with accompanying stories and tales.
Audience and level of use: patriotic and local cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pumpkin oatmeal muffins; gluten-free toasted walnut pear muffins; apple sage cheddar bread; maple pulled pork; Canadian cassoulet; chickpea and cauliflower curry; Asian-style eggplant.
The downside to this book: Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb. If it is made with beef, it is called Cottage Pie and not "Shepherd's Pie with Beef".
The upside to this book: a good swing through the food countryside from the east coast to the west coast.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
4.SIR JOHN'S TABLE; the culinary life and times of Canada's first prime minister (Goose Lane Editions, 2015, 228 pages, ISBN 978-0-896492881-8 $19.95 CAN paper covers) is by Lindy Mechefeske, a Kingston ON free lance writer and food columnist, author of the cookbook "A Taste of Wintergreen". She's been fascinated by local legend Sir John A. Macdonald and tells his story through his culinary life from the rations on his passage to Upper Canada through his boyhood of stealing fish, to the political high teas, campaign picnics, and dinner parties. It's a journey from eating hardtack biscuits to drinking Champagne biscuit flavours. As she says, "These are the food stories of Sir John...a character who loved his family, surrounded himself with lots of company, and adored a party. This is not a cookbook but a tale of our gastronomic past, found in old recipes books, tales of pioneer life in Canada...and the context of nineteenth-century society in Upper Canada." Each chapter has "receipts" of the era, chosen against three criteria: authentic, feasible and edible. All preps are in the original form, lacking directions in many cases. But updates can easily be found through Internet searches and something comparable prepared at home. Recipes are indexed in the general index by ingredient or theme, but there is also a separate recipe title index (which does not appear in the general index).  Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements. There are also a timeline for Sir John's life, end notes, and bibliography. A very readable book.
Audience and level of use: Canadian culinary historians.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: toad in the hole; wedding cake; fried oysters; artificial asses milk; classic Montreal tourtiere; gooseberry pie; parsnip soup.
The downside to this book: the food entries in the general index are just run ons, with page numbers only. So there are 17 refs to Champagne, and 14 to vegetables with no clarifications. And "champagne" as used in the book is not capitalized.
The upside to this book: lots of historical photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.WE LOVE KALE (Taunton Press, 2016, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-63186-362-2, $16.95 US soft covers)
6.WE LOVE QUINOA (Taunton Press, 2016, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-63186-361-5, $16.95 US soft covers) are being co-published with Quantum Books from the UK. Taunton Press, of course, also publishes Fine Cooking magazine. These books have been written by five bloggers and recipe developers. KALE is led by Kristen Beddard; QUINOA is led by Karen S. Burns-Booth. Both are set-up the same way, with different preps of course: 50 recipes plus 50 variations. There is introductory material about kale or quinoa, followed by meal divisions: breakfast, brunch, snacks, appetizers, drinks, mains, soups, salads, sides, desserts. The recipes are not meatless, but many have been coded for being gluten-free or dairy-free, wheat-free, vegan, vegetarian. Each book has 10 ways to pump more kale or quinoa into your body; each recipe has prep and cook times, tips, and instructions. And yes, I did check the indexes: there are no kale preps in the quinoa book and no quinoa preps in the kale book. Still, one of my fave dishes is eggs/kale/quinoa at breakfast. That should have been mentioned somewhere in the two books!! Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for healthy food, millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: risotto-style quinoa with caramelized onions and mushrooms; vegetable paella-style quinoa; quinoa pizza with blue cheese and eggplant; kale summer roll variations; kale and chorizo tortilla bites; kale and sweet potato dosas with coconut chutney. 
The downside to this book: just the bit about combining kale and quinoa with a few recipes..
The upside to this book: good preps, nice and tasty, and the variations just seem to keep coming.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7.THE PLANTIFUL TABLE (The Experiment, 2015, 311 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-247-2, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Andrea Duclos, a top rated family blogger at ohdeardrea. It is a book about simple and natural living, with over 125 dishes for children and adults. Its subtitle is easy, from-the-earth recipes for the whole family. It is a vegan cookbook, although her family is mostly veganish. The title indicates that only plants are used. There's a glossary that can serve as a shopping list, and a bibliography. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. International themes are stressed, injecting more flavours into the dishes.
Audience and level of use: vegans, vegetarians, those with families.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: aloo gobi; pad thai; ramen; arepas with corn and avocado; bahn mi chay; burger bean and quinoa salad; heart of palm patties.
The downside to this book: there is still a tendency to make a vegan dish out of a classic comfort food (e.g., mac and cheese, cottage pie)
The upside to this book: kid-friendly tips to that one meal can feed everyone.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
8.THE VEGETABLE BIBLE; the complete guide to growing, preserving, storing and cooking your favorite vegetables (Thunder Bay Press, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-62686-436-8, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Tricia Swanton, a NYC writer-researcher with her own upstate New York garden.
9.THE BEANS & GRAINS BIBLE; the ultimate resource from kidney beans and black beans to modern superfoods such as quinoa and farro (Thunder Bay Press, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-62686-437-5, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Emma Borghesi, a food writer-researcher in Melbourne.
Both books are unusual in shape: 6 inches wide, more than 11 inches high, and 2.5 pounds in weight. It may or may not be convenient to hold them. The first 270 pages of the veggie book deals with listing the vegetables; there are almost 175 of them, arranged by category (leafy, fruits (eg olives, tomatoes), pods, bulb and stem, root and tubes, sea vegetables. The book concludes with a growing guide. In between there are a dozen pages of recipes, about four to a page, so let's say 50 preps. These are indexed, but only under their title, and not their ingredients. So the index shows "Satay Chicken" but nothing under "chicken". But then you don't go looking under chicken in a book dealing with veggies...maybe. Each veggie is covered in a page or two with photos, descriptions, history, cooking style, medicinal uses (if appropriate), and the like for directory data. The beans & grains book is similarly structured, with the divisions being cereal grains, ancient grains, pseudograins (buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, chia, flaxseed), beans (dry and fresh). It goes to page 286, and the the recipes begin, arranged as 7-day meal plans (vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free). Again there are about 50 preps, and again they indexed under recipe title (e.g. Roast Pumpkin but not also under "pumpkin"). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: mostly vegetarians and vegans
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: carrot and lentil soup, basil pesto, bell pepper and cannellini bean wraps, pickled sunchokes.
Quality/Price Rating: 82.

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