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Mama to Mama: Favourite Cookbooks

The internet is an all powerful resource when it comes to pinterest-worthy pies and genius make ahead work lunches. Food blogs are amazing and abundant! But sometimes if feels good to reach into your own private library and cook a favourite from a stained and tattered cook book. Especially when you live on a remote island and the internet, aka portal to inspiration, is down. 😉 Read on to find out which cookbooks we’re reaching for this New Year to inspire and invigorate our daily bread.

 “Call me old-fashioned but I actually use cookbooks quite often. One of my favourites is Helen Aitken’s Vegetarian: Tasty Recipes for Every Day. It has a ton of tasty recipes, ranging from simple one-pot dishes that are easy to whip up after work, to festive dinner party appetizers. It even has a few recipes that my kids like, which is a feat in itself! Unfortunately this cookbook is out of print, but it’s possible to find it used.”
“My Favourite new cookbook is At Home in The Whole Foods Kitchen by Amy Chaplin. I love the instagram-able food photography and healthy but delicious recipes that aren’t too tricky to approach on a week day. This plant-based collection has its roots in asian-infused and seasonal traditions but has a more exciting and elegant result than other vegan cookbooks I’ve used. I also love that in addition to exciting menu items with flair, Chapin has devoted the first 50 pages to basics, like the equipment needed to start your whole foods journey, and classic every day techniques to master such as perfect pot of beans, soaking grains, and roasting veggies. Her inclusion of  “A Week Of Meals in My Kitchen” has been an inspirational tool for integrating these fresh flavours and interesting new ingredients into my kitchen.”
 “I love to cook and now that I live on this remote island with very little internet access, I no longer rely so much on looking up recipes. Instead, I have returned to the recipe box that my grandmother gave me when I was a child and now I write down my favourite recipes (and my many, many adaptations) in my own recipe box. As well, I keep a small stash of must-have recipe books which are particularly helpful for cooking ethnic food which I love to eat. Did I mention there are no restaurants open in the winter on this island? My all time favourite recipe books are more than recipe books, they are guides to a way of healthy, empowered living and they both have their own followings (I do not exaggerate). They are Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. No kitchen should be without these books.  I recently got my children, who also enjoy cooking, but can’t read, their own cookbook called Pretend Soup. This is a classic from the Moosewood Kitchen family of books (think hippie vegetarian restauranteurs) and although I find myself augmenting the white flour and sugar aspects of the recipes, it’s still a big hit. If you like Nourishing Traditions but would like more recipes (and perhaps ones with just a little bit more pizzaz, because as much as I swear by Nourishing Traditions the actual recipes are sort of secondary to the genius of this book) then you will like the cookbooks by Nina Plank or Margaret Floyd Barry. The recipes are based on a deep understanding of nourishing traditions and are great, easy to make, and delicious. I like to cook Indian and Chinese food. I haven’t found the perfect Indian cookbook yet, although I have two of them, but I am quite excited about this new Chinese cookbook I just got called Every Grain of Rice.  I also think every household should have one old-fashioned cookbook. I have the Betty Crocker cookbook, I got one handed down to me from EACH of my grandmothers. This cookbook is part historic relic (oh my goodness, they love white flour, white sugar, and vegetable shortening), none of which I routinely use. However, these old cookbooks are a great source of classic information from which I am able to adapt, usually without too much gagging in the final taste test. They also have conversions, tips on doing the basics (like making pie crust) well, and tons of forgotten recipes that continue to inspire.”

“I have a rather diverse cookbook collection, as I buy cookbooks when I travel, (that may not be published in the States), and my friends bring them to me from their travels. But, my favourite cookbook is actually…mine. Well. Not my recipes, but my compilation.

Have you ever been reading a Food magazine, whilst at the Doctor’s office, or getting a mani-pedi, and there was a page torn out? Sorry. That was me. My cookbooks are filled with recipes from family and friends, kind Chefs that have generously scribbled the magical ingredients to a meal I have adored, newspapers, and, food magazines.

As this season will require at least two bottles of Mojo, I went through “my” cookbook and found a recipe that will wake up any pork dish. It seems that I tore this from the September 2002 issue of Bon Appétit (page 114). This Mojo recipe was submitted by a chef at Havana Harry’s, a restaurant in Coral Gables, Florida.

Mojo Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I use Key Limes.)
3/4 cup orange juice (I use Valencia oranges.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 garlic cloves (Confession: I use more than 8.)
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I actually prefer Sazon)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Whisk ingredients together

Pre-make as many sauces or freezable things as you can, so that you can actually enjoy the holidays with your loved ones! (And, I’m sorry if I tore out a recipe that you wanted.)”


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