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Reading – Toast and Jam by Sarah Owens – 16 in a series

April 12th, 2018 No comments

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Toast and Jam by Sarah Owens – 16 in a series

While I am a fairly experienced cook, this book, despite its simple name, was a bit intimidating. Yes, it is truly a book devoted to Toast and Jam, but this is toast and bread unlike you have probably made in your home before.

I would classify this as a cookbook for advanced users — someone looking to challenge themselves and their skills. You’ll learn a great deal about baking by weight, bread made with tahini and sourdough starter and seeds of all description and jams made with melons and sage and sumac. This is certainly not your average, Joy of Cooking, cookbook for beginners.

Still, there is something to be said for taking on a challenge, even if you fail on occasion. If you learn from your mistakes you are sure to improve your baking skills and improve your life, too.

With that in mind, check out Toast and Jam and give it a try.

From Amazon.com…

Bread and butter, toast and jam, scones and clotted cream—baked goods have a long tradition of being paired with spreads to make their flavors and textures sing. As a baker with a passion for plants, Sarah Owens, author of the James Beard award–winning Sourdough, takes these simple pairings in fresh new directions. Spread some Strawberry & Meyer Lemon Preserves on a piece of Buckwheat Milk Bread for a special springtime treat. Top a slice of Pain de Mie with Watermelon Jelly for a bright taste of summer. Lather some Gingered Sweet Potato Butter on a piece of Spiced Carrot Levain for a warming fall breakfast. Make a batch of Dipping Chips to serve with Preserved Lemon and Fava Bean Hummus for an inspired snack. Wow brunch guests with a spread of Sourdough Whole-Grain Bagels, Lemony Herb Chèvre, and Beet-Cured Gravlax. The recipes here offer a thoroughly fresh sensibility for the comfort found in a simple slice of toast spread with jam.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Baking, Books, Bread, Cooking, Food Tags:

Reading – Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser – 15 in a series

April 3rd, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser – 15 in a series

This is an amazing memoir of 2 amazing women who learned fairly early in life that girls do indeed code (or program). They found each other during a “Girls Who Code” program and together helped change the world in a unique way — not only showing the programming can be a talent and profession but also addressing a women’s issue (menstruation stigma) that they had faced directly.

Tampon Run is a small, side-scrolling game that they created during the workshop, but it soon took on its own energy and power and led to international exposure for both Andrea and Sophie.

Read this engaging story told from 2 unique perspectives and learn how early experiences can shape the life and career of anyone.

Reading - Girl Code by by Andrea Gonzales  and Sophie Houser - 15 in a series

Play the game

Reading - Girl Code by by Andrea Gonzales  and Sophie Houser - 15 in a series

Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser

** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.

From Amazon.com…

Perfect for aspiring coders everywhere, Girl Code is the story of two teenage tech phenoms who met at Girls Who Code summer camp, teamed up to create a viral video game, and ended up becoming world famous. The book also includes bonus content to help you start coding!

Fans of funny and inspiring books like Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular and Caroline Paul’s Gutsy Girl will love hearing about Andrea “Andy” Gonzales and Sophie Houser’s journey from average teens to powerhouses.

Through the success of their video game, Andy and Sophie got unprecedented access to some of the biggest start-ups and tech companies, and now they’re sharing what they’ve seen. Their video game and their commitment to inspiring young women have been covered by the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, CNN, Teen Vogue, Jezebel, the Today show, and many more.

Get ready for an inside look at the tech industry, the true power of coding, and some of the amazing women who are shaping the world. Andy and Sophie reveal not only what they’ve learned about opportunities in science and technology but also the true value of discovering your own voice and creativity.

A Junior Library Guild selection

A Children’s Book Council Best STEM Trade Book for Students K-12

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Books, Business, Make, Science, Technology Tags:

Reading – The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore by Robert Simonson- 14 in a series

March 20th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore Robert Simonson – 14 in a series

Reading - The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore by Robert Simonson- 14 in a series

“What?”, you say? “An entire book about one cocktail?”

“Yes!”, I say. “And what a cocktail it is!”

The Old-Fashioned takes us through the long and complicated history of what is arguably America’s favorite cocktail. I know, for myself, that this has become my go-to tipple whether at home our out on the town. It is deceptively simple and when well made almost perfect. The woody bite of bourbon, a slight sweetness from your favorite sweetener (mine is maple syrup), a splash of bitter to mellow it all together and a slice of orange to complete both the taste and visual profile. Yum!

What started out as a relatively straightforward combination went through many changes over the years including the changing of ingredients, overburdening the drink with fruit and changing tastes, but a group of old-fashioned purists wrestled back the Old-Fashioned into something eloquently playable and ready to be experimented with once more. You’ll find old and new recipes here, showing you a place to start as well as excellent places to travel with your favorite cocktail.

** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.

From Amazon.com…

A complete history of one of the world’s most iconic cocktails–now the poster child of the modern cocktail revival–with fifty recipes for classic variations as well as contemporary updates.

No single cocktail is as iconic, as beloved, or as discussed and fought-over as the Old-Fashioned. Its formula is simple: just whiskey, bitters, sugar, and ice. But how you combine those ingredients—in what proportion, using which brands, and with what kind of garnish—is the subject of much impassioned debate.

The Old-Fashioned is the spirited, delightfully unexpected story of this renowned and essential drink: its birth as the ur-cocktail in the nineteenth century, darker days in the throes of Prohibition, re-ascension in the 1950s and 1960s (as portrayed and re-popularized by Don Draper on Mad Men), and renaissance as the star of the contemporary craft cocktail movement.

Also featured are more than forty cocktail recipes, including classic variations, regional twists, and contemporary updates from top bartenders around the country. All are accessible, delicious, and elegant in their simplicity, demonstrating the versatility and timelessness of the Old-Fashioned formula. 

With its rich history, stunning photography, and impeccable recipes, The Old-Fashioned is a celebration of one of America’s greatest bibulous achievements. It is a necessary addition to any true whiskey- or cocktail-lover’s bookshelf, and destined to become a classic on par with its namesake beverage.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Books, Drinks, Food, History, Recipe Tags:

Reading – The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty – 13 in a series

March 11th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty – 13 in a series

Reading - The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty - 13 in a series

A dizzying swirl of food and life and history and slavery and food and genealogy and stories and Africa and everything else that is a part of Twitty’s life. I learned and/or felt something new on every page.

I originally decided to read this book as it was about food and food history, but as I made my way through it I discovered so much more. Even with an authority on United States Slavery living here in my own home, I still learned even more about it with each page. Twitty’s journey to discover who he is by discovering where he came from is a familiar one, but also unique in so many ways. Informed by DNA analysis, deep food-ways research, personal stories and his encounters with people throughout the American South delve deeper into the past and root out basic historical reasons why food, race, history, and families are so complicated today.

At times this book is hard to read. The stories are just too despairing and most modern readers have no frame of reference. It does force you to face the past — all of the past — and come out a better person on the other side with a deeper, if still imperfect, understanding of our collective history.

As other reviewers have mentioned, I wish there had been more recipes throughout the book, that isn’t really its purpose. The recipes provide cultural touchstones but it is the stories that resonate long after you close the covers.

** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.

From Amazon.com…

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.

From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia.

As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Books, Cooking, Education, History Tags:

Reading – Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by by Andrew Degraff and‎ A.D. Jameson – 12 in a series

February 26th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by by Andrew Degraff and A.D. Jameson – 12 in a series

Reading - Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by by Andrew Degraff and  A.D. Jameson - 12 in a series

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See more cinemaps on the author’s web site

All movies take place in a world of their own design and Cinemaps helps to map out those spaces for 35 of our favorite movies from Star Wars to Pulp Fiction to Back to the Future. Each map details the passage of the main charactear, showing how and where they encounter one another, diverge, and meet again throughout the passage the film. This is a new way of understanding films, providing a visual summary of the movies and a piece of art in its own right. A.D Jameson’s essays on each film provide more illumination to the “illuminated” maps showing how one informs the other.

A great gift for movie and map buffs!

** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.

From Amazon.com…

This beautifully illustrated atlas of beloved movies is an essential reference for cinephiles, fans of great films, and anyone who loves the art of mapmaking.

Acclaimed artist Andrew DeGraff has created beautiful hand-painted maps of all your favorite films, from King Kong and North by Northwest to The Princess Bride, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, even The Breakfast Club—with the routes of major characters charted in meticulous cartographic detail. Follow Marty McFly through the Hill Valley of 1985, 1955, and 1985 once again as he races Back to the Future. Trail Jack Torrance as he navigates the corridors of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. And join Indiana Jones on a globe-spanning journey from Nepal to Cairo to London on his quest for the famed Lost Ark. Each map is presented in an 11-by-14-inch format, with key details enlarged for closer inspection, and is accompanied by illuminating essays from film critic A. D. Jameson, who speaks to the unique geographies of each film.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Reading – The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone – 11 in a series

February 20th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by by Jason Fagone – 11 in a series

Reading -  The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies by by Jason Fagone - 11 in a series

An amazing true story that had me racing through the book at a feverish pace. This book details the beginnings of cryptanalysis — the science/art/craft of making and breaking codes — in America and the amazing woman behind it all. As the author often reminds us throughout the book, Elizebeth Smith Friedman is virtually unknown despite all her groundbreaking work in cryptanalysis. She, and her soon to be husband, William were the creators and foremost experts on breaking codes and ended up training most of the cryptographers who came after them. They started their codebreaking journeys in World War I, breaking codes used in the newfangled wireless radio systems. Between the wars, Elizebeth broke the codes of rumrunners illegally importing alcohol during Prohibition. Finally. at the outset of Word War II, Elizebeth set up a dedicated codebreaking group as part of the US Coast Guard while William managed a similar group under the auspices of the US Army. Together they helped keep America and Americans safe during the war including breaking up German spy radio stations in South America and preventing at least one attack on the Queen Mary, then serving as a troop transport. Eventually their efforts led directly to the creation of the Nation Security Agency (NSA) and the auditorium at NSA headquarters — once only named for William — now bears both their names equally.

Anyone with an interest in the history of codes, code breaking or cryptanalysis will find The Woman Who Smashed Codes a fascinating read. Combine this rather forgotten history with how it affected the overall history of the times gives you an even deeper understanding of both.

Highly Recommended

** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.

From Amazon.com…

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.

In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the “Adam and Eve” of the NSA, Elizebeth’s story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America’s code-breaking history through the prism of Smith’s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson’s bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Books, History, Technology Tags:

Reading – Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura – 8 in a series

February 5th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura – 8 in a series

Reading - Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura - 8 in a series

Food waste is a huge issue in today’s world. Millions of people go hungry every day and yet thousands of tons of food goes into trash heaps at the same time. World famous chef, Massimo Bottura had a unique idea of how to address this issue and chose the Milan Expo of 2015 to create The Refettorio Ambrosiano. During the 6 months of the Expo, other famous chefs would cook lunch and dinner for school kids and the homeless using mainly the supplies donated to them from other events and restaurants in the city. Chefs didn’t know what supplies they might have available until they arrived and then strove to create something useful, simple and yet, special for those meals.

For me, I am often intimated by chef-level food in the real world. I have understand why people are attracted to the new, the special, the dangerous, but I prefer more down-to-earth fare. This is exactly what these chefs created during their meals. Sure, they dressed up the dishes, but at their heart these dishes were about constraints, simplicity and food as love. It is mainly the constraints that seem to drive the chefs to a higher level, as with many artistic forms. Having too much, too many, too special anything often leads us to be lazy and superficial in our art. Cooking (and painting writing and drawing) within constraints forces us to be creative, more thoughtful and more unique than we might think possible.

There are a host of amazing recipes here and just as many ideas on how to use kitchen scraps, leftovers, slightly damaged or out of date fruit and vegetables — just like what you might find in your own home. I know that there are nights when our own dinner is driven by what needs to be used or finished or saved so it doesn’t end up in the trash or the compost pile. I will need to check out his book from the library again so I can go back and collect all the recipes I want to try. There were simply too many to absorb on first reading. Along with the recipes are the excellent essays of each chef’s experience in the kitchen, what they made and how they made it.

** My version of this book was available as an eBook from the Los Angeles Public Library

Reading - Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura - 8 in a series

Reading - Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura - 8 in a series

From Amazon.com…

Massimo Bottura, the world’s best chef, prepares extraordinary meals from ordinary and sometimes ‘wasted’ ingredients inspiring home chefs to eat well while living well.

‘These dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. To feed the planet, first you have to fight the waste’, Massimo Bottura

Bread is Gold is the first book to take a holistic look at the subject of food waste, presenting recipes for three-course meals from 45 of the world’s top chefs, including Daniel Humm, Mario Batali, René Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Joan Roca, Enrique Olvera, Ferran & Albert Adrià and Virgilio Martínez. These recipes, which number more than 150, turn everyday ingredients into inspiring dishes that are delicious, economical, and easy to make.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Baking, Books, Cooking, Food Tags:

Reading – Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt – 7 in a series

February 1st, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt – 7 in a series

Reading - Mozart's Starling Hardcover by Lyanda Lynn Haupt - 7 in a series

It all started with a starling. The story goes that Mozart, walking about Vienna, came across a starling that could sing a melody from one of his, soon to be famous, compositions. So taken was he by this bird that he bought it and installed it in his home for the next 3 years. This story intrigued author Lyanda Lynn Haupt so much that she decided to adopt her own starling chick to better understand this story. This led to a book that encompasses Mozart, history, music, animal behaviors, natural history, linguistics, science, pets, and home.

I never expected to be taken on such a wide ranging trip with Mozart’s Starling, but it quickly pulled me in and through the various personal stories and sidebars into all the topics mentioned above. For me, this is a nearly perfect book. It has a theme that runs throughout, but within that theme it runs here and there engaging a little bit of this and little bit of that, tickling my need for variety and giving me a host of conversation items for any upcoming party. 

After reading, I now know more about Mozart’s music and history, the invasive nature of starlings in North America, how a pet can become part of a family, the different styles of language/song among birds and much more. I think you’ll find Mozart’s Starling and interesting read, too.

** My version of this book was available as an eBook from the Los Angeles Public Library

From Amazon.com…

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling in a Viennese shop who sang an improvised version of the theme from his Piano Concerto no. 17 in G major. Sensing a kindred spirit in the plucky young bird, Mozart bought him and took him home to be a family pet. For three years, the starling lived with Mozart, influencing his work and serving as his companion, distraction, consolation, and muse.

Two centuries later, starlings are reviled by even the most compassionate conservationists. A nonnative, invasive species, they invade sensitive habitats, outcompete local birds for nest sites and food, and decimate crops. A seasoned birder and naturalist, Lyanda Lynn Haupt is well versed in the difficult and often strained relationships these birds have with other species and the environment. But after rescuing a baby starling of her own, Haupt found herself enchanted by the same intelligence and playful spirit that had so charmed her favorite composer.

In Mozart’s Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely and remarkable bond between one of history’s most cherished composers and one of earth’s most common birds. The intertwined stories of Mozart’s beloved pet and Haupt’s own starling provide an unexpected window into human-animal friendships, music, the secret world of starlings, and the nature of creative inspiration. A blend of natural history, biography, and memoir, Mozart’s Starling is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Reading – Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimble – 6 in a series

January 25th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimble – 6 in a series

 

You may know Christopher Kimball from his time at America’s Test Kitchen on PBS. He brings his same precision and dedication to Milk Street, his new, individual, company and cooking school. For the most part, Milk Street is about simple, international foods, brought home to out American kitchens and done very, very well. In an effort to help the reader find success with these recipes, they are clearly laid out in great detail with hints and tips and times clearly shown. Kimball and his staff have obviously tested these recipes again and again and want to help you succeed in making them.

Scattered throughout are sections detailing tips like why oil us better for cooking omelets and scrambled eggs, why carbon steel pans might be a home cook’s best friend and how to steam cook with a foil-parchment packet.

Along with this are excellent recipes, many of which I have marked for future “testing” in my own kitchen. Some of my favorites include:

  • Curry Braised Eggs
  • Spanish Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Bites (Pinchos Morunos)
  • Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage
  • Cracked Potatoes with Vermouth, Coriander, Fennel
  • Whipped Cream Biscuits

** My version of this book was available as an eBook from the Los Angeles Public Library

From Amazon.com…

For more than twenty-five years, Christopher Kimball has promised home cooks that his recipes would work. Now, with his team of cooks and editors at Milk Street, he promises that a new approach in the kitchen can elevate the quality of your cooking far beyond anything you thought possible.

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, the first cookbook connected to Milk Street’s public television show, delivers more than 125 new recipes arranged by type of dish: from grains and salads, to a new way to scramble eggs, to simple dinners and twenty-first-century desserts.

At Milk Street, there are no long lists of hard-to-find ingredients, strange cookware, or all-day methods. Skillet-charred Brussels sprouts, Japanese fried chicken, rum-soaked chocolate cake, Thai-style coleslaw, and Mexican chicken soup all deliver big flavors and textures without your having to learn a new culinary language.

These recipes are more than just good recipes. They teach a simpler, bolder, healthier way to cook that will change your cooking forever. And cooking will become an act of pure pleasure, not a chore.

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

Categories: Baking, Books, Cooking, Food, Recipe Tags:

Reading – The Wildcrafted Cocktail: Make Your Own Foraged Syrups, Bitters, Infusions, and Garnishes by Ellen Zachos – 5 in a series

January 19th, 2018 Comments off

I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas

Reading – The Wildcrafted Cocktail: Make Your Own Foraged Syrups, Bitters, Infusions, and Garnishes by Ellen Zachos – 5 in a series

 Reading - The Wildcrafted Cocktail: Make Your Own Foraged Syrups, Bitters, Infusions, and Garnishes by Ellen Zachos - 5 in a series

I know what you’re thinking…”Another cocktail book?!?!” Well, this is just the order I completed them in, not some evil scheme to get your drunk on a weeknight. (LAUGH)

The Wildcrafted Cocktail is certainly an extremely niche book. It is few people who go out into the woods and forage the ingredients for their cocktails, yet I still enjoyed the book greatly. It was wonderful to read about all the unique ingredients you might find in your own backyard. Still, I for myself I would be a bit leery gathering plants without a bit more knowledge, and confidence, that I wasn’t poisoning myself in the process. You might want to combine this book on a really good book on backyard foraging like Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, to assist you in your search. Such detailed information is far beyond the scope of The Wildcrafted Cocktail, but very necessary to be successful.

That said, there was also some great, general information on cocktails including some history of cocktails,

“What is a cocktail? The first mention of a cocktail as an alcoholic beverage dates from 1806, when it was defined as a drink composed of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.”

and the difference between the several types of simple syrup that are used behind a well-stocked bar, 

“The difference among these syrups is not only the degree of sweetness but also the mouthfeel. A rich syrup (twice as much sugar as water) is much silkier than a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). A light syrup (twice as much water as sugar) is lighter and thinner on the tongue. Simple syrups are the most versatile and most commonly called for behind the bar.”

The Wildcrafted Cocktail is certainly worthwhile if only to expand your thinking about foraged ingredients and cocktails in general. Who knows? You might even have some ingredients in your very own garden that could find their way into your glass.

** My version of this book was available as an eBook from the Los Angeles Public Library

From Amazon.com…

Meet the natural lovechild of the popular local-foods movement and craft cocktail scene. It’s here to show you just how easy it is to make delicious, one-of-a-kind mixed drinks with common flowers, berries, roots, and leaves that you can find along roadsides or in your backyard. Foraging expert Ellen Zachos gets the party started with recipes for more than 50 garnishes, syrups, infusions, juices, and bitters, including Quick Pickled Daylily Buds, Rose Hip Syrup, and Chanterelle-infused Rum. You’ll then incorporate your handcrafted components into 45 surprising and delightful cocktails, such as Stinger in the Rye, Don’t Sass Me, and Tree-tini. 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Previously in (Re)Reading:

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