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Archive for the ‘Cook Books’ Category

The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler

Despite the beautiful potential of the original (hardback) cover, this book is thick, wordy, and lacking the info I was expecting. Even in her introduction, she explains that not every berry is covered. Not every berry is pictured either, even though many types of blackberries and raspberries are pictured—all looking the same to me. Also, some fruit is pictured and not discussed, such as the pink and white currants. In the A-Z section, the relevant information to me would be: what does the plant look like, what does the fruit look like (color, size), and what does the fruit taste like? These key questions are not directly addressed, but some of that information can be gleaned from picking it out of the named paragraphs. The sections of info included about each berry are: name, classification, habitat & distribution, history, commercial growth, how to pick, how to buy, how to store, and notes for the cook. For example: she doesn’t describe the berry itself (or the flavor) but does mention that they will stain. So the berry therefore must be dark colored, right?

I would rewrite those sections as: Plant Growth and Range; Berry Information (info about season of ripeness, berry size and color, taste and traditional or native uses); How to Find (either commercially or wild picked), and Other useful information (such as picking tips, storage tips, and cleaning and cooking tips).

If you approach this book as a cookbook only, you’ll be rewarded with tons of recipes in every category you can imagine. But if you approach it like I did, as a “bible” of berry information, you will be disappointed. There are 70 pages of berry info (the “bible” section of the book, in my opinion), and 236 pages of recipes. There is also a section of colored photographs of some berries, but when you realize how many are not covered, this section become a bitter reminder of lost oportunities.

Original (hardback) Cover Art: This cover implies a botanical and historical wealth of information could be inside. Alas, it is not meant to be. . . The new cover as changed brings the focus back to using berries in the kitchen which is admittedly the true purpose of this book. 

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Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier

This is a beautiful little book with very interesting recipes from a real French woman who happens to have a blog. I never heard of her until the title came up somewhere in passing. I mistakenly thought her book would feature either chocolate or zucchini in every recipe. Nope. She didn’t even have a recipe that included both ingredients until after she named her blog that. She chose a very classic chocolate cake, by the way.

Since the book didn’t meet my expectations, I will not be making any of her recipes. I’m not into French cooking (sorry Julia!), and the titles of the recipes being in French puts me off despite my 5 years as a French student. I like to page through and glance at the titles to see if I’d make the recipe. Since it’s in French (the English is just underneath but I can’t read the font easily), I have to go by the photographs (which are superb, by the way—I wish I could take food photos as good as her!) But anyway, it’s probably a great book if you are already a fan of hers, she’s an excellent writer and her recipes seem authentic and delicious. I do have to say though, her Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Marbles should be called by their proper name: Buckeyes. I’m an Ohioan, people.

 

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