While hungrily awaiting my copy of Pollan's latest from my local library, I relished an amuse bouche of a review by America's Test Kitchen editorial director Jack Bishop, who dared critique Pollan for being, like to many Americans, a dilettante in the kitchen. The four recipes Pollan shares from his culinary adventures chronicled in the book occupy 19 pages of instructions. While I'm still anxious to get my hands on the book, the review reminded me that there are better places to learn, really, how to enjoy the pleasures of cooking on a daily basis, and make these work in your busy life.
The best book that really teaches how to cook that has crossed my kitchen table this year, by far, is The Garden of Eating by Rachel Albert and Don Matesz (Planetary Press, 2010). This culinary duo tell you not only what to eat (real food) but, both clearly and deliciously, how to cook it on a daily basis when time and money are on a budget. Both have extensive training in nutrition, Chinese medicine, and culinary arts, and they've created a tome, grounded in the principles of nutrient-dense, produce-driven, paleo-inspired eating, which can transform your kitchen, your daily cooking and your health. Most importantly, the recipes are quite delicious and mostly simple, with ingredients that are widely available.
The shining gems here are in the tips on organizing your kitchen, pantry, and cooking week from these seasoned veterans. These are things I've taken years to learn and incorporate into my life, such as always roasting an extra tray or two of vegetables when I turn on the oven, and following simple formulas for meals like breakfast and lunch, relying on condiments to add variety to these formulas and boost flavor and nutrition. These habits take a little discipline to acquire yet pay off tremendously in pleasure, health and economy. Sustainability concerns are addressed in the introductory chapters and throughout, like organics, sources of animal foods and ways to reduce the use of plastic in your kitchen. The recipe for Better Barbeque Sauce has already become a family favorite. If you are interested in ordering the book, please use this link to the authors' website..
If you are the kind of person who learns best not from books but in person, check out my upcoming cooking classes and demos:
- May 1st, 9am, Santa Monica Farmers' market cooking demo. Click here to register for this free class.
- May 11, 12:30-3:30 Mokolumne Hill, CA Fermentation demo and hands-on class. Contact email@example.com for details.
- Sunday, June 2nd 10am-1pm: Further Adventures in Fermentation, hands-on at Biofuel Oasis in Berkeley, click here to register.
- June 5th, 6:30-9pm: Fermentation for Summer Vibrancy, hands-on at 18 Reasons in San Francisco, register here.