Making the Best Amateur Cookbook Ever.
Making the Best Amateur Cookbook Ever.

“I think I need more,” she said, with only the slightest trace of sheepish guilt in her expression. “If I give you money, can you see if they have more?” Tomorrow is my CSA pick-up day. But today, my coworker, a fellow local food devotee, is hitting me up. She’s shoving money in my hands. For vegetables? Nah. For fruit? Nope. She wants cookbooks . Cookbooks produced by CSA volunteers, no less.

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Recipes Preserved Grapes & Pecans: A Way with Les Conserves

On a trip to Paris a while back, I stopped in a bookshop on a quest for cookbooks. There were many fine volumes, but one in particular stood out as a must-have. Les Conserves is a glossy, photo-packed soft-cover (Produced by a French division of Reader’s Digest! Why don’t they make such lovely books for English readers?) is ideal for a French neophyte like me. Just look at this recipe for grape preserves.

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The Cookies of the Dead
Recipes The Cookies of the Dead

Much as I love Halloween, I think the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is waaay cooler. A couple of hundred years ago, Halloween held a solid position in the autumn calendar as a religious event. These days, I’d bet a lot of people don’t even realize that the “Eve of All Hallows” is supposed to be followed by All Saints’ Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on the 2nd.

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My Favorite Books for Food-Loving Kids

I was a lucky little kid. I had parents who read to me and bought me lots of books. Early on, they introduced me to the wonders of the public library and taught me to read, which cracked open the whole world’s opportunities. As an adult I still carry around a whole heap of warm, fuzzy nostalgia for the stories of Rudyard Kipling and Theodor Geisel, the weird poetry of Edward Lear and Shel Silverstein.

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Recipes On Pasta Primavera and Thinking Outside the Cave

Working with food and recipes as much as I do, I find that I spend a lot of time in the cave. I don’t mean a cheese cave or a wine cellar. (That’d be lovely, wouldn’t it?) No, the cave on my brain is Plato’s cave. That is, his famous Allegory of the Cave. Take just a moment now and think back to your high school humanities class or that Philosophy 101 in college.

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Journey to the center of the kalonji

One Spice, Two Spice, by Floyd Cardoz and Jane Daniels Lear One of the fantastic things about attending cooking school is the gateway it provides to great kitchens. To those who care nothing about the construction of food, it might seem silly to want to roam among the pots and cutting boards, but to the food obsessed, the opportunity to seek out behind-the-swinging-door secrets is truly the stuff of salivation.

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Pasta sans soul, per favore

A charming passage from Paolo Villoresi’s little book, Whole Wheat My Love : Concerning methods for determining when pasta is cooked, I have heard nearly everything, including the suggestion of throwing a piece of pasta against the wall. If it sticks, it is ready, if not, you must repeat the operation a bit later. Horror and error! In reality, to determine whether or not pasta is cooked, it must be tasted with the teeth.

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Do You Know the Way to Flambe?

History-rich image courtesy of the NYPL online collection Call it a tour of technique. Herein, three cookbooks… three authors… three ways to describe the mystical, mezmerizing mastery of controlled kitchen flames. Flambéing (“French Farmhouse Cookbook” by Susan Hermann Loomis) When flambéing—that is, sprinkling a dish with brandy or other alcohol, then igniting it with a match to burn the alcohol off—follow these safety precautions: • Tie back your hair

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Bizarre Cookbooks: Weman’s Cook Book

An ad for Weman’s Cook Book I really wish I could share a recipe from this cookbook. After all, Mr. Weman claims to produce “noteworthy features entirely distinct from any heretofore published.” How very tantalizing! Unfortunately, what I have in my hands here is not a cookbook. Rather, it’s a crumbling ad scanned from the back of a decaying book of Irish song lyrics found in my grandmother’s estate (seems as though they weren’t big on acid-free pages back in the day…).

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Tomato & Watermelon Salad: Unexpected Flavor Friends
Tomato & Watermelon Salad: Unexpected Flavor Friends

During the peak season for any particular piece of produce, it’s common to find that its flavor friends are also hitting their prime. Asparagus, ramps and morels in the springtime. Tomatoes, basil and cucumbers in the summer. Apples, sage and butternut squash in the autumn. Rutabaga and… well, rutabaga might be the lonely exception. But let’s focus on the summer! When I found a recipe for “Tomato & Watermelon Salad” from Bill Smith’s delicious volume, Seasoned in the South , I was initially a bit put off.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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