At Home on the Range presented by Elizabeth Gilbert

June 25th, 2012

McSweeney's reprint of Elizabeth Gilbert's great-grandmother's cookbook At Home on the Range.

I went to San Francisco in late April to meet with McSweeney’s, visit friends and a city that I’ve missed and haven’t been to in five years. I was really excited to meet with the fine folks at McSweeney’s because as I’ve mentioned here before — working with them on the Toro Bravo Cookbook is a dream come true. The only plans I had with them were to stop by the office after I arrived and a couple days later have dinner with some of them. When all was said and done I ate ice cream that David Byrne, yes that David Byrne, had delivered to the McSweeney’s office while they finished up his book How Music Works which comes out later this summer and gone out for drinks and then dinner with the majority of the fine folks of McSweeney’s and a very special someone.

If it had been just me visiting McSweeney’s I bet two at the most three people from the publishing house I would’ve come out to dinner but the morning of I texted my editor and she said something to the tune of when we’d meet, where (Mission Chinese Food) and oh, Elizabeth Gilbert is coming to dinner too. What the fuck?!

I could go on and on about how generous, warm, and smart Elizabeth is because she is (She reached out for my arm as we walked into Mission Street Chinese and asked me to sit next to her at dinner so we could talk. Above and beyond. I couldn’t have been happier about that and the rest of the night.) but instead I’ll turn to the book that brought her to San Fransisco and therefore dinner that night.

It’s the book above — a reprint of her great grandma Margaret Yardley Potter’s cookbook At Home on the Range which originally published in 1947. It turns out that Dave Eggers had been talking about doing some sort of a charitable book collaboration with Elizabeth when she came across her great grandmother’s cookbook. Would Mr. Eggers like to reprint it and give all the proceeds to ScholarMatch and 826 Valencia? Why yes he would.

Fast forward to me getting my first package of books from the McSweeney’s Book Release Club which I just became a member of…

My first box of books arrived for the McSweeney's $100 for 10 books Book Release Club...

With three incredible books including…

Two down, one to go!

I started reading At Home on the Range on a Saturday and I finished it on a Saturday. The same Saturday. It is that good. If you like what I write about here — DIY cooking projects, gardening, food adventures and all sorts of other eat, drink and be merry things I think you’re really going to enjoy this book.

I’ve only cooked two things from it so far — a classic meatloaf and the chicken cacciatore — and both were delicious. The recipes are all written as this one below — in paragraphs and often with more insight and voice than ingredients. Page after page of honest and full-of-life stories.

Some selections from At Home on the Range:

“So go our culinary ways with confidence and without apology. Use only one standard in trying out strange foods or seasonings: that you like the result.”

“‘Which is more necessary in the house, the bed or the stove?’ has almost as much chance of being satisfactorily answered. Granted that the three most important happenings in life, birth, marriage and death, take place in bed; three equally vital occurrences, breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily owe their success to the stove.”

Followed by this advice for a new couple to purchase the best bed and stove they can afford:

“Don’t rush either purchase, for these important articles, like a husband, should last a lifetime if well selected.”

At Home on the Range meatloaf recipe.

All together now.

Filled with three unsliced hardboiled eggs and topped with bacon.

And a can of tomato soup...

Slice and serve!

Chicken cacciatore over spaghetti with arugula hazelnut pesto.

At Home on the Range
Presented by Elizabeth Gilbert
Written by Margaret Yardley Potter
pub. date April, 2012
originally published in 1947
240 pages
$24, McSweeney’s Books

Eating Local Guide by Jen Bracy

June 18th, 2012

Have you seen this around town?

Do you wonder what it is?

Well, here's what's inside.

Maybe you read about Jen Bracy’s Eating Local Guide in the Oregonian or maybe you’ve seen her selling them at the downtown PSU Portland Farmers Market or seen them for sale at New Seasons Market. Jen was nice enough to drop off one of her handy and inspiring guides for me a couple weeks ago and here’s the scoop.

Description of the Eating Local Guide ($10) straight from the source:

“The guide consists of monthly cards highlighting seasonal foods and presenting ideas for how to prepare and preserve them. The format is flexible, allowing individual cards to be carried to the market and used in the kitchen. The monthly guide package includes a plethora of resources and links [from CSAs to farmer’s markets to local businesses & restaurants to gardening and preserving tips] as well as timetables showing what produce is in season.”

If you’d like to purchase one of Jen’s guides she will be talking about and selling her Eating Local Guide and posters at the downtown PSU Portland Farmers Market June 23, July 21 and 28. The guides are also available for purchase at New Seasons Market, Bob’s Red Mill, Food Front Cooperative Grocery, Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply, Cherry Sprout Product Market & City Farm. Eat local!

Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

June 11th, 2012

Marisa McClellan's new book includes 100-plus recipes for canning and preserving...

Although you can, of course, can and preserve food and drink year-round the really fruitful time for both is just around the corner. If you want a new book to keep you company and guide you through the putting-by time consider Marisa McClellan’s just published book Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round (Running Press, May 2012, hardcover, 240 pages) which shares the name of her popular food blog. Although McClellan lives in Philadelphia now she’s a born-and-raised Portlander and she’ll be in town this week to promote her inspiring DIY book.

According to McClellan: “Unlike other books on canning and preserving, Food in Jars offers small-batch recipes ideal for tiny kitchens.”

I haven’t had a chance to cook from Food in Jars yet but I’m looking forward to these recipes amongst others: rhubarb jam with strawberries and oranges, strawberry vanilla jam, Meyer lemon jelly, zesty lime curd, pickled brussels sprouts, blueberry lemon syrup, and chocolate hazelnut butter.

Thursday, June 14th @ KitchenCru 6:30-8:30pm — Marisa will teach a canning class on the basics of boiling water batch canning while making a batch of take-home strawberry lemon jam. Sign up for the $60 class here.

Saturday, June 16th @ Powell’s Books on Hawthorne 2-4pm — Marisa will sign copies of Food in Jars and be available for any and all canning questions.

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
by Marisa McClellan
pub. date May, 2012
240 pages
$23, Running Press

For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 3

June 4th, 2012

Chef-owner John Gorham and Mary Hatz doing prep. on the Toro Bravo line for a Friday dinner service...

We’re just at the mid-way point in terms of writing the Toro Bravo Cookbook: The Making, Breaking and Riding of a Bull (McSweeney’s fall 2013) and that means things are really cooking now — literally and figuratively. I don’t have time to do much more this week than meet my monthly deadline for the book so I’m putting up a snapshot that I took while at the restaurant a few weeks ago during prep. and service. I got to ride with the bulls and it was a lot of fun. If you didn’t get to come out and celebrate Toro’s fifth anniversary this past Friday I’m sorry but you missed out. I’ll put up photos and possibly a video from that up here eventually as well. The best part: the marching band procession from Tasty n Sons to Toro Bravo that kicked it off.
For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 1
For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 2