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The Forager’s Pantry: Cooking with Wild Edibles

Ellen Zachos. Gibbs Smith, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-42365-674-6

In this delightful outing, food writer Zachos (The Wildcrafted Cocktail) suggests ways to mix up meals using foraged plants. “Combining wild foods with familiar kitchen staples brings new life and excitement to your cooking,” she writes. Recipes are grouped by ingredient type (flowers, greens, spices, and herbs), and chapters are full of tips on how to store surplus ingredients for later use, such as by dehydrating (“If you don’t have a dehydrator yet, put it on your wishlist!”), freezing, and bundle-hanging. Home cooks will enjoy savory mains such as flower fritters, curried foraged greens, and a cretan chestnut stew. Drink options include a sparkling flower soda and a chai masala that calls for dried juniper berries, while desserts offer a foraged nut ice cream, a crab apple cake with spicebush berries, wild gingersnaps with juniper berry frosting, and knotweed cupcakes. Since foraging is a seasonal practice, Zachos provides a guide to using store-bought ingredients to substitute when foraged items aren’t available, such as replacing sassafras leaves (which add lemon flavor) with lemons, or using store-bought garlic instead of field garlic. This is perfect for spirited home cooks with a taste for wild, fresh flavors. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Mezcal and Tequila Cocktails: Mized Drinks for the Golden Age of Agave

Robert Simonson. Ten Speed, $18.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-98485-774-3

Food writer Simonson (The Martini Cocktail) delivers an eclectic compilation of recipes for mezcal and tequila cocktails. He begins with a history of the spirit, noting how, in the 1920s, Americans traveled south of the border to drink agave spirits because they weren’t available stateside. Mezcal, after decades out of the spotlight, has enjoyed a boom in popularity lately, making its emergence on the drinks scene something of “a Cinderella story... in which an age-old spirit has finally been recognized for the liquor royalty it always was.” Many of the recipes are brand-specific and designed to complement a distillery’s style. Minimalist offerings like the Mezcal Collins (made with Del Maguey Santo Domingo Albarradas) play to a purist experience, while the Dados is a delicious concoction that calls for a touch of the aperitif Suze. The Perfect Pear is a sour option utilizing spiced pear liqueur, and Simonson also shares the recipe for a Oaxaca Old-Fashioned made famous by New York’s Death & Co., and a smaller collection of tequila-only cocktails. Sippers new to mezcal will appreciate the chart matching classic cocktails with their mezcal equivalent (those who like the Negroni, for instance, should try the Benny Blanco, while Moscow Mule fans should check out the Mezcal Mule). Agave lovers will be in heaven. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Good Housekeeping Easy Meal Prep: The Ultimate Playbook for Make-Ahead Meals

Jane Francisco. Hearst Home, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-95078-522-3

Francisco, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping, shares the secrets of making meal prep easy and offers more than 100 recipes for delicious meals in this savvy cookbook. Meal prep, she argues, shouldn’t be a stressful endeavor, and to that end, she shares her three favorite tips for doing so: cooking in large batches, splitting dishes into individual portions for grab and go meals, and chopping, peeling, and slicing ingredients early in the week so that weeknight meals come together quickly. Tasty dishes like minestrone (“This produce-packed soup lasts up to five days in the fridge”), pork ragu rigatoni (the ragu can be frozen for three months), and a make-ahead egg and cheese sandwich (“assemble as many sandwiches as you will eat in a month—they’ll keep in the freezer for up to 30 days”) are on offer. Francisco’s writing is breezy (“ ‘What’s for dinner?’ Do these three words strike dread in your heart?”) and she peppers the recipes with fun facts, such as that frozen fruit is often fresher than off-the-shelf, since it’s picked, frozen, and packaged at peak ripeness. She also includes a useful weekly meal planning chart and a list of substitutions for those wanting to experiment with flavors. This is great for anyone looking to take the stress out of getting food on the table. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories

Nigella Lawson. Ecco, $31.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06307-954-0

Lawson (At My Table) combines offerings that put a spin on recipes from restaurants, friends, and family, as well as an insightful take on the importance of cooking in her own life, in this delightful outing. On the food front, she provides a medley of dishes such as cherry and almond crumble; a gluten-free banana bread with chocolate and walnuts (the result of a friend asking for a gluten-free version of her standard recipe); a spaghetti with chard, chiles, and anchovies adapted from the Fitzroy restaurant in Cornwall, England; and the “headily intense” short rib stew she makes at home and spices up with chiles, shallots, and ginger. Perceptive essays appear throughout, among them “A Is for Anchovy,” an ode to what Lawson calls “the bacon of the sea”; “A Loving Defence of Brown Food,” in which she muses on how, “to the naked eye, brown food is beautiful: rich, warm, and full of depth and subtle variegation”; and “Christmas Comforts,” a heartwarming tale of a Covid Christmas (“Some things cannot change: I will never renounce my traditional Christmas lunch menu”). The prose leans toward the formal, but the recipes are cheerful, straightforward, and easy to follow. Lawson’s fans are in for a treat. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2021 | Details & Permalink

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How to Be a Vodka Snob

Brittany Jacques. Red Lightning, $24 (160p) ISBN 978-1-68435-128-2

Jacques, the pseudonym of a husband and wife duo, debuts with an entertaining homage to a favorite “underappreciated luxury,” vodka. In a chatty voice, Jacques mixes vodka history, trivia, and cocktail recipes, tracing the spirit’s rise in the U.S. after it came to America in the early 1930s when Russia’s most famous vodka maker, Vladimir Smirnov, was chased out of the country by the Bolsheviks. Jacques also nods to vodka’s pop culture bona fides, with discussions of James Bond’s preferred vesper cocktail, Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City’s love for the cosmopolitan, and The Office’s Dwight Schrute’s development of his own beet vodka. As for the cocktails themselves, Jacques’s recipes tend toward the classic and include several martinis, the sea breeze, the greyhound, and the screwdriver, and there’s a recipe for vodka-soaked gummy bears. (“Whip up a batch of these delightful treats and awaken the kid inside of you.”) A small assortment of food options—blue cheese stuffed olives, lemon-and-vodka seared scallops, Godiva liqueur brownies—highlight culinary uses for the spirit. This charming compendium is the perfect companion for any vodka lover. (May)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Creating Cultures of Consent: A Guide for Parents and Educators

Laura McGuire. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (150p) ISBN 978-1-4758-5096-3

“Consent is rooted in all interpersonal exchanges,” advises McGuire, a sexual health educator, in this invaluable debut. Conversations about consent often happen between parents and children, McGuire writes, but the issue is frequently “watered down” with incomplete information. McGuire defines consent (“respect for the dignity, personhood, and well-being of every living thing”) and makes the case that it should be taught both at home and at school: while parents can model good morals, children’s exposure to morality should not “happen in a vacuum.” Consent, the author argues, can be taught as early as 18 months (when a child first understands the word no), and can be “infused” in every subject taught in school. Science class, for instance, could highlight the chemical reactions that occur in the body during decision-making or trauma, while human rights could be addressed in English or social studies classes. A list of key takeaways rounds out each chapter, and McGuire proposes questions to prompt conversations with children (asking them “what movies tell us” about how men and women should behave, for example). McGuire offers a path to create a culture that is respectful of each individual’s autonomy and personal boundaries. Teachers and parents looking to enrich their conversations about consent should give this a look. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Martha Stewart’s Very Good Things: Clever Tips & Genius Ideas for an Easier, More Enjoyable Life

Martha Stewart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-328-50826-3

Lifestyle doyenne Stewart (Martha Stewart’s Organizing) returns with inspiring tips for domestic endeavors in this celebratory guide. Stewart’s advice comes in six sections: a chapter on decorating includes such projects as upcycling dated furniture, updating cabinet handles, and planning a gallery wall. A section on homekeeping offers advice on tableware storage and care, and repairing garments. The organizing section will delight Stewart fans looking to save space, as she suggests adding built-in storage underneath stairs and shows how to use a spool rack to organize jewelry. The cooking section covers clever tips for repurposing kitchen gadgets (egg slicers can yield perfectly sliced strawberries, for example) and taking care of such tasks as deboning fish and prepping mussels. Stewart lays out plans for putting together the perfect party and creating crowd-pleasing appetizers, while readers with a crafty bent will appreciate projects such as corn husk wreaths. Stewart’s advice is sensible and easy to implement, and gorgeous photos will further inspire readers to get to work. This sparkling collection of tricks is catnip for dedicated entertainers, crafters, and homemakers. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Modern Homestead Garden: Growing Self-Sufficiency in Any Size Backyard

Gary Pilarchik. Cool Springs, $24.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-7603-6817-6

Homesteading requires “actively engaging in a more self-sufficient lifestyle within the everyday demands of modern life,” advises Pilarchik, creator of the blog and YouTube channel the Rusted Garden, in his encouraging, practical debut. Pilarchik shows readers how to make the grocery store their “second stop” for food; to that end he describes three types of gardens (containers, raised, and earth beds) and offers tips for sunlight, soil (warning against a pursuit of perfection in this area), composting (which he calls “nature’s pH regulator”), and contending with pests and diseases. A sizable section on seeds addresses the best time to plant, along with profiles on various crops, such as warm weather favorites peppers, squash, and tomatoes, and cool weather varieties such as cauliflower, kale, and peas. He also provides instructions on canning, pickling, and freezing, along with a recipe for tomato sauce and advice on drying herbs. Pilarchik details a thorough, sensible approach to cultivating food and gardening in general: “We’re just helping Nature along.” This is a must-have for gardeners looking to deepen their connection with nature and with what they eat. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Mending with Love: Creative Repairs for Your Favorite Things

Noriko Misumi. Tuttle, $15.99 (88p) ISBN 978-0-8048-5403-0

Mending worn pieces of clothing evokes “happy memories and a sense of pleasure in the passing of time,” writes stylist Misumi (Joyful Mending) in her clever how-to. One chapter is dedicated to mending socks and makes use of basic darning techniques; another focuses on covering stains with stamps—Misumi advises if a stamp is “a little crooked or otherwise off a bit, that makes it unique.” Frays and holes, meanwhile, can be repaired with decorative embroidery and patching, and Misumi provides step-by-step instructions for each technique. For a cloud-shaped hole on a jacket collar, Misumi embroiders a night sky with yellow and blue stitches. Moth holes in an antique handmade coat are covered with small, round crocheted motifs. A final section shows readers how to transform unsalvageable pieces into something new: projects include stitching an old woolen sweater into a hot pad, and transforming an old sack into a trivet. Though some projects can be rather involved (turning an old T-shirt into a dust cloth, for instance, requires several techniques), Misumi offers no shortage of quick-fix stitches. Those looking to bring new life to old pieces will find this a useful guide. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls

Janice Johnson Dias. Ballantine, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1962-8

“Raising a child demands imagination and flexibility,” advises sociologist Johnson Dias (Affirming Beauty) in this empowering guide to finding the joy in raising daughters. In four parts (“Who is Your Girl?”; “Who Are You?”; “What is Her World?”; and “Change-Maker”) the author presents a program for “raising self-realized girls,” sharing research by psychologists and pediatricians along the way. In order to help girls become confident agents of change, Johnson Dias writes, parents must help their children determine “who they will be” and cut through cultural conceptions about what girls can be. Assignments appear throughout, such as “make a mirror that reflects your girl,” in which a child and her parents write adjectives on a mirror as a “reminder of who she really is.” She also suggests helping fuel girls’ imaginations by letting children make their own decisions about the kinds of books they want to read. Along with her tips, the author weaves her story as a mother of a teenage daughter who is also an activist and writer. Johnson Dias’s forthright advice successfully calls upon parents to join their girls in creating the changes they wish to see. Her wide-ranging guidance shouldn’t be missed. Agent: Regula Noetzli, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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