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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cookbook Reivew - Paleo Comfort Foods

Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield

ISBN-13: 978-1-936608-93-5
ISBN-10: 1936608936
Original publication date: 2011
Format: paperback
Publisher: Victory Belt Publishing
Pages: 336 pages
Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.4 x 0.9 inches
# of recipes: 125-150
Dietary scope: (Atkins, fat-free etc): Paleo and gluten-free
Intended audience: people who want Paleo comfort foods
Photos: 1 photo per recipe or more
Index: yes
Arrangement: by course
Other information (i.e. - tips, history, etc): long introduction, section on basic foods and tools
Lists Nutritional information: no
Lists Servings: no
Utilizes packaged foods: no
Low fat: no
Low sodium:  most recipes use no or little salt
Low sugar: sweetener of choice is honey
Low carb: yes
Cost per recipe (listed cover price/#recipes):
Recommended skill level:
Journeyman – I’m done with boxes – what’s next?

Points – (each question can have up to 5 points) – 3.89
Hits the intended audience? 5
Picture to recipe ratio? 5
Good format? 4
Good table of contents? 4
Good index? 2
Cost per recipe (listed cover price/#recipes) $29.95/139 = $.22 - 3
Anthropology rating: 2
% of recipes I would make (1 point per 20%): 99% - 5
I like? 5

We have 4 Paleo cookbooks so far, and I am pretty sure that this one is going to be my favorite for a very long time.  It does have a few minor issues, at least one of the recipes is missing some steps (if I noticed it, it is pretty obvious since I don’t normally pay too close attention to the directions.)  The index could also use some work.  There is a pie crust recipe called “Nutty Pie Crust”, you will not find it under ‘pie crust’ in the index.  It is not in the dessert section either, so you had better remember the name of it unless you want to look through the second table of contents which lists all of the recipes in order.

Otherwise I just have to say – Lemon Bars, banana bread, and tortillas.  If you are trying the Paleo lifestyle and are missing your lemon bars or banana bread you need to check this book out.  And tortillas are always a good staple to have to wrap stuff up in.

My hubby made fried chicken the other day, using boneless skinless chicken breasts and he only used the almond flour, garlic and salt & pepper and it was the best fried chicken I have had in forever!  It tasted almost as if it had the skin on, and this was even after it was re-heated.

Also, unlike a lot of cookbooks for non-mainstream lifestyles, this book uses very few strange or premixed items.  I hate the recipes that say use 1 cup of X’s flour substitute, I want control of what I am using, and I don’t want to have to pay for a brand of something.  Besides, what happens when that company goes out of business or decides to stop making that mix?  And my food intolerances include almost any kind of high-carb foods that are usually used in gluten-free cooking.

I know some people will say, but they use almond flour in a lot of the recipes, where do you get almond flour?  We actually have almond flour on hand because we make homemade almond milk to use instead of dairy.  It makes an amazing hot cocoa or chai.  So the fact that the recipes use almond flour is a plus for us.  So if you are trying the Paleo lifestyle you should try making your own almond milk.  I like it a lot better than the store brands that I have tried. We take the skin off the almonds which makes a difference, and don’t use any additives like honey.

If you only get one Paleo cookbook, this is the one to get.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend adventure – United Noodles

Ok, I admit, we go to United Noodles once in a while, so it’s not that big of an adventure, and really it's not that far away. Or maybe not as big of an adventure that it could be. I swear every time we go I say to myself we need to come here on a regular basis, and then it is months before we go again. We had to go this time because I wanted some rice for a little project of mine – non-dairy milk alternatives. I thought that it would be fun to do not only white rice milk but also rice milk made with red and black rices. I know that many people are getting into alternative foods (like gluten or dairy free) because of their kids and I think that kid food should be fun!

You may have seen United Noodles on the Food Network (both Rachel Ray and Andrew Zimmern have been there). They are located in Minneapolis and are the largest Asian grocery in the Midwest (or so their web site states.) They carry a vast array of Asian items from tableware to fresh fish. This weekend I saw belt fish in the fresh fish case. There is no mistaking the reason for the name.

We also got some noodles, one is called ‘oriental noodles’ and is made with sweet potato starch. They look sort of like rice noodles that were dipped in squid ink, since they have a sort of black tinge to them. The other kind we bought for ourselves is black rice vermicelli. I also got some pumpkin and tomato carrot noodles for our niece. We should not have gotten any noodles for ourselves, since this week we are going to go back on the Paleo diet. But I figure since I eat potatoes once a week at work, we should have one day a week where we can be ‘bad’ if we have been good the rest of the week without guilt if we so decide. Also since we are going through our cookbook collection and working on organizing, rating and reviewing them.

My new toy – bamboo steamer

I have always wanted one, but for some reason I have never actually bought one until now. I have no idea why not!

Of course we had to try it out right away so I got some beef and cabbage buns to steam as soon as we got home. They were very yummy!

Now I need to find or create good Paleo recipes that use a steamer.

Cookbook review - Turkish Cookery by Inci Kut

ISBN-10: 975-479-100-7
Original publication date: 1992
Edition publication date: 1993
Format: paperback
Publisher: Net Turistik Yayinlar
Pages: 141
Dimensions: 7.5 X 8.5 x 3/8
# of recipes: 175-200
Dietary scope: (Atkins, fat-free etc): Turkish Cuisine
Intended audience: people who want to cook authentic Turkish food
Photos: 1 or more photos every 2 pages
Index: no
Arrangement: by course
Other information (i.e. - tips, history, etc): there is a some historical or cultural notes
Lists Nutritional information: no
Lists Servings: yes
Utilizes packaged foods: only in a couple of recipes
Low fat: not really
Low sodium: not really
Low sugar: not really
Low carb: not really
Recommended skill level: Journeyman (I’m done with boxes – what’s next?)
Points – (each question can have up to 5 points) – 3.14
Hits the intended audience? 5
Picture to recipe ratio 4
Good format 3
Good table of contents 5
Good index 0
Anthropology rating: 1
% of recipes I would make: 75%
I like? yes

The only way this cookbook could have been more Turkish is if it was written in Turkish, my copy even has a price sticker in Turkish Lira. It could have possibly benefited from being proofread by a native English speaker, but that does give it a bit of charm. I can’t help but smile every time I look at a recipe with Egg-Plant in it even though this is one food that I can truly not eat, which is also why the % of recipes that I would make is smaller then it could be. If you take out the recipes with eggplant I would probably make over 90% of the remaining at least once. I am not a huge fan of liver or tripe, and there are a few other recipes that the ingredients would be a bit hard to come by in Minnesota, fresh anchovies for example. It is not written with American measurements, and at first you might look at a recipe and see that it calls for a ‘glass’ of something. There is a nice table at the front of the book that lets you know that a ‘glass’ equals 1 American cup, or 5/6th of a British breakfast cup.

It has a lot of pictures, not quite a picture for every recipe but pretty close. One of the things that I liked about the pictures is that if you are unfamiliar with the food most are photographed in such a way as to show you what the finished product looks like, for example baked Borek. Now I understand what I didn’t from a previous book. Yes, you place the filling on the dough and roll it up like a cigar, and then you shape it into a big, flat snail shape.

The format, while not totally bad is, busy. The pages are separated into columns, two wider columns with a narrower one separating them which wouldn’t be bad. But then those two wider columns have a line on either side, and each ingredient listed has a line underneath it, all this just adds visual noise. Also the page numbers are a bit unusual; each individual number is in a black box, so page 26 has two black boxes each with a number in it. You will know what section of the book you are in because each page has top boarder in black with the section name in it. I don’t think that this was needed since it is pretty obvious what section you are in once you look at the recipe. So visually there is a lot going on on each page.

The table of content is almost as good as an index, which is good since there is no attempt at an index. You could argue that with a cookbook this small it doesn’t need an index, but really with a book this small how hard could it be to add one?

This cookbook could easily get a 4-5 rating except for the lack of index, historical or cultural information and the busy formatting.

Note: my husband, who is the kind of person that does exactly what the recipe says had difficulty with the recipes that he tried. I am a more of read the ingredients and interpret what it says to do. So depending on your ‘style’ this book may be more difficult to use.



Cookbook review - Gourmet Mustards: The How-Tos of Making & Cooking with Mustards by Helene Sawyer and Cheryl Long

(Sorry, for some reason the picture wants to be on it's side!)

ISBN-13 :978-1889531045
ISBN-10: 1-889531-04-9
Original publication date: 1987
Edition publication date: 2002
Format: paperback
Publisher: Sibyl Publications

Pages: 116
Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches

# of recipes: 125 - 150
Dietary scope: (Atkins, fat-free etc): mustard
Intended audience: people who want to make mustard from scratch
Photos: none, some black & white drawings
Index: yes, but it is more like an expanded table of contents
Arrangement: by course
Other information (i.e. - tips, history, etc): some tips and mustard related quotes
Lists Nutritional information: yes
Lists Servings: yes
Utilizes packaged foods: only items like prepared horseradish, and jams
Low fat: yes
Low sodium: yes
Low sugar: mostly
Low carb: mostly
Cost per recipe (listed cover price/recipes): about $.06/recipe
Recommended skill level: 
Journeyman – I’m done with boxes – what’s next?
Points – (each question can have up to 5 points) = 2.65
Hits the intended audience? 4
Picture to recipe ratio? 0
Good format? 5
Good table of contents? 2
Good index? 2
Cost per recipe (listed cover price/recipes): 3
Anthropology rating: 1
% of recipes I would make: 80%
I like? 3

I had high hope for this book, but sadly it fell short of them. There is only one ‘basic’ mustard recipe and it is a Dijon style mustard, which really isn’t that ‘basic’. I would have liked to have seen at least one or two more really basic recipes. As for the history of mustard there is a mere 4 sentences on the subject. Another thing that I didn’t like was even the basic recipe is based on powdered mustard, everyone knows that spices start to lose their pungency as soon as you start to crush, or grind them. If you are going to the trouble of making your mustard from scratch, you are certainly capable of starting with the mustard seed, in fact you are probably wanting to start with the seeds.

The recipes themselves look good. I almost wonder, however, if there is a recipe missing, since a few recipes call for "basic prepared bright yellow mustard". To me it seems silly, in a book about making mustards to have store bought mustard as an ingredient. There is another item about this book that I find annoying. There is a recipe called "Christmas Mustard" which looks like it would be a lot of fun to try because it is unusual, how many mustards have you seen with candied fruit in it? I think that since it is so unusual there should be some suggestions on what to use it with, and at least one recipe containing it. Unless I missed the recipe in the two or three times I have gone through the book there is not one mention of Christmas Mustard aside from the recipe itself. How hard would it have been to make sure that there was at least one recipe to go with each of the mustard recipes in the book? Christmas ham or turkey at the very least. Or perhaps a turkey, cream cheese and Christmas mustard wrap?

There are very short comments for each recipe, and many are followed by helpful ‘tips’. There are many mustard related quotes through out the book which adds a bit of fun to it.

For the most part I was looking for recipes on mustards, and maybe a recipe or two that contained some of the more unusual ones. And while there are almost 40 recipes for mustard (if you include all the variations) it clearly lacks on the basic mustard recipes.