Thieves in Hawaii are targeting SPAM

 Spam

It's probably fair to to say that no one loves SPAM® more than Hawaiians. About 6 million cans of SPAM are eaten each year in the state, an average of 5 cans per person. Recently, that fondness has led some people to commit a dastardly crime: Hawaii is currently experiencing a spate of SPAM thefts

As romantic as it sounds, it may not be SPAM lovers who are stealing the product. Local law enforcement agencies suspect that people are stealing it, along with other canned meats, in order to sell them on the black market, in return for drug money. Because the thefts are so rampant, stores are beginning to put SPAM behind lock and key. 

SPAM is produced about 50 miles to the south of where I live, but it was only last week that I visited the SPAM Museum for the first time. It was fascinating and kitschy in a good way. I had no idea there were so many flavors of the product, nor how popular it has become. One gentleman loves SPAM so much he changed his middle name to Ilovespam, and he got married in the museum's atrium. I do not share his enthusiasm for SPAM and haven't eaten it in decades, a situation that is unlikely to change. Are you a fan of SPAM?

Photo of Canadian Spam with macaroni and olives from Lucky Peach Magazine

What do you do when you have 30,000 cookbooks?

 cookbooks

Many EYB Members have impressive cookbook collections numbering in the hundreds and a few have thousands of cookbooks on their shelves. One man in Berlin puts us all to shame. He has collected over 30,000 cookbooks and did what anyone with that many books would do: he opened a cookbook store.  

In the article, we only learn the collector's first name - Sven - although we do learn more about his impressive array of books. Some are centuries old, handwritten treasures that scholars frequently use to conduct research into cultural traditions. The store, Bibliotheca Culinaria (not to be confused with the Italian cookbook publisher with the same name), is located near the center of Berlin, and contains books in a number of languages. 

When asked, Sven cannot easily explain how he has come to own so many cookbooks (we feel you, Sven), only that he's been collecting since he was 22 years old. The books cover the gamut of cuisines and styles. Among the most valuable are the vintage bartending books. The most expensive book Sven has ever sold, for one thousands euros, was an 1890 copy of Jerry Thomas's  The Bar-Tender's Guide.

You might think that Sven cherishes a handful of special books that he will never sell. You'd be wrong. It seems that the collector enjoys the thrill of the hunt; he will sell you any of the books in the store and will begin an enthusiastic hunt to find its replacement. Bibliotheca Culinaria is a must-visit destination for any cookbook lover who travels to Berlin. 

How to be Fearless in Culinary Writing


While I am buried literally and figuratively in about 200 October cookbooks (preparing a roundup which I hope will be informative and helpful to our members), I spotted a post by Crescent Dragonwagon in my newsfeed. To be honest, Julia Child's iconic face caught my attention first. When I am swamped with work, I seldom give my newsfeed a second look. This piece, however, was about Julia, or so I thought, and I had to take a break. Crescent's article from this summer is worth a read for not only is it entertaining, it is uplifting.

I love my work at Eat Your Books, I try very hard to put a little of myself in each review but sometimes when roundup time sneaks up on me - I feel overwhelmed. The roundup is my favorite post of the month, but at the same time I feel at a loss on how to describe each book to give it the attention it deserves without being stale and repetitive. There are so many books this month that are glorious in my opinion, but how does one convey that adequately without sounding as if every book is a must have - many are, some aren't. Those books that don't blow up my skirt, might be just the one a member has been looking for.

The piece at Rouses, ignited a spark in me - if Julia Child at the age of 85 felt the need to take course during an IACP conference entitled, Finding Your Voice, Vitality, and Vibrancy in Culinary Writing, who am I to feel lost. Writing is personal and one of the hardest, yet easiest tasks for me. I needed the reminder that even the best of the best need to be uplifted by the people around her. Crescent is a brilliant writer who gave me the boost I need today.  I am excited to take her class in Feburary at the IACP conference in New York - please tell me there is room for one more. 

Crescent writes weekly posts on grieving, celebrating, eating, and writing that you can subscribe to here. The Widowhood Wednesdays are reaching many and may be helpful to those who are grieving or knows someone who is.

Read about Crescent's student Julia, enjoy your family and friends this weekend, get lost in a book and have fun.  I, for one, will enjoy my time mulling through these beautiful books and sharing my thoughts with you next week.

 

 

Raiding Grandma's recipe box

 vintage recipes

If you are a fan of Southern barbecue, you are probably familiar with the side dishes that are must-have accompaniments like baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and potato salad. One North Carolina pitmaster is shaking things up at his popular restaurant. Matt Register, proprietor of Southern Smoke BBQ in the tiny town of Garland, raids his grandmother's recipe box - plus a few vintage cookbooks - to up his side dish game.

The well-worn books he uses to find forgotten delights like succotash and okra stew include a volume of the Woman's Institute Library of Cookery (dating back to the early 20th century) and A Taste of Central New York (a nod to his wife's Italian heritage). Register also raids a treasure trove of hundreds of his grandmother's handwritten recipes. "You can tell she liked a recipe if she wrote 'good' or 'great' on the recipe card," he says. 

The chef doesn't always make the recipes as written, frequently preferring to tweak them to coax more flavors out of the ingredients. Take his creamed corn side dish, for instance. He started with his grandmother's recipe, which he found overly sweet. His version switches it up by adding brown butter, garlic and fresh basil. "Basil, especially in the summertime with fresh vegetables and salt, is perfect," he says. 

I need to dig around in my recipe box to find the escalloped pineapple recipe (similar to this one in the EYB Library) that was given to me by my friend's grandmother, who lived to be 106. It's somewhat like a pineapple-heavy bread pudding, although with fewer eggs and a lot more butter. It's a Southern classic often served at Thanksgiving. Have you unearthed any favorite vintage recipes, either from an old book or handed down recipe card?

Featured Cookbooks and Recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection?  You can do this even if you have a free membership! 

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf.

Happy cooking and baking everyone!

 

Member Photo of the Week:

Limoncello Cupcakes from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan

Photo submitted by our own Jenny. Have you uploaded any of your own photos yet? Learn more!

 

 

From Blogs:

Apple Cider Cinnamon Buns from indexed Savory Simple

 

 

From Cookbooks:

6 recipes from Dinner & Party: Gatherings Suppers Feasts by Rose Prince

Enter the Dinner & Party WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY!

 

5 recipes from A Grandfather's Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey by Jacques Pépin

Enter the A Grandfather's Lessons GIVEAWAY! (US only)

 

10 recipes from Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It: 120+ Recipes for Cakes, Icings, Fillings, and Toppings for Endless Flavor Combinations by Melissa Ben-Ishay

Enter the Cakes by Melissa GIVEAWAY! (US/CAN only)

 

9 recipes from Eat Right: The Complete Guide to Traditional Foods, with 130 Nourishing Recipes and Techniques by Nick Barnard

Enter the Eat Right GIVEAWAY! (US only)

Feeling the absence in the leftovers

 leftover spaghetti tortilla

When I was growing up, Sunday supper at my grandparents' farm was all but mandatory. Portions were substantial, dessert always provided, and leftovers packaged and sent home to various households. The act of cooking for others - whether it be your own family, for friends, or even for strangers - is entrenched in cultures worldwide. 

Food writer Jay Rayner embraces this outlook, but recently, his family has undergone a change. One of his children has left home, and the absence is felt in many ways. One of these is that there are more leftovers than before. In a column in The Guardian, Rayner addresses the transformation this will bring, while also nodding toward the cultural influences that have led him to make "too much" food for nearly every meal. 

Rayner recounts a tale to which many of us can relate. A lot of us have a mother or grandmother who grew up through extremely lean times, when a full belly at the end of the day wasn't a guaranteed outcome. When these women had families of their own in richer, more stable times, their tables often overflowed with food - a reflection of "victory over the odds that had been stacked against her" according to Rayner. 

Even though he realizes that someday he will adjust the quantity of his food output, Rayner doesn't think it will lead to a radical change in his cooking. He says, "in time, I'll learn to cook for three, not four. But I can't pretend. Restraint just isn't a skill I ever really wanted to acquire. I don't ever want to be the person who cooks only enough." 

Photo of  Claire Thomson's leftover spaghetti tortilla from The Guardian Cook supplement

Prime - The Beef Cookbook by Richard H. Turner

In Prime: The Beef Cookbook, Richard H. Turner, the king of meat, shares 150 recipes devoted to meat cookery. Turner was trained by the Roux brothers, Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White - and now his talents are present in several of London's restaurants - Pitt Cue Co., Hawksmoor, Foxlow and more - as well as being one half of Turner & George - the best-quality butcher/supplier of British rare breed meat. He is also the man behind the famed Meatopia festival.

There are so many recipes in this title that appeal to me (remember, I'm not the biggest beef lover by any means) - Burmese Beef Curry, Bone Marrow Dumplings, and Sichuan Beef. Turner's vault of experience is spread throughout the pages between recipes and photographs that may tempt even the die-hard vegetarian. I was so gobsmacked by this book that I had to buy Hog and Pitt Cue Co and I love them all! That statement is high praise as I am typically not a fan of meat-centric cookbooks - Turner, however, is an exception. 

The publisher, Mitchell Beazley, is sharing the tempting steak recipe below with our members as well as providing three copies of this book in our contest. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter - open to US Eat Your Book members.

 

Butter-fried steak with golden garlic

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

This is old-school French cookery at its best. If you can find grass-fed butter, then use it - evidence is mounting that grass-fed butter is healthier than intensively farmed butter, and it's certainly better 
for you than margarine or oil.

 

  • 2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) bone-in steaks such as T-bone or prime rib, cut 3-4mm (about 1/8 inch) thick
  • 50g (1¾oz) beef dripping
  • 125g (4½oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Season the steaks all over with salt and pepper.

Heat the dripping in a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan. When it has melted and is foaming, add the steaks and cook over a high heat until crusty on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the steaks and add half the butter, the thyme, garlic cloves and rosemary to the skillet.

Cook over a high heat, basting the steaks with the foaming butter, garlic and herbs, turning once more and adding the remaining butter. Cook until the steaks are medium-rare, 3-4 minutes longer. Transfer the steaks to a chopping board or plate and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes, preferably longer.

Remove the herbs and keep frying the garlic until golden and soft. Cut the steaks off the bone, then slice the meat across the grain and serve with the meat resting juices poured over and the fried garlic cloves.

 

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US.  One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on November 20th, 2017.

 

This chef is tired of over-the-top food

Night+Market cookbookWhen food crazes include rainbows, unicorns, and mash ups of foods, it's safe to say that over-the-top is definitely in style. However, that's no longer the philosophy of Los Angeles chef Kris Yenbangroom, who is set to open his third restaurant. When he first opened his place, called Night+Market, he admits he had a "heavy hand" when it came to flavors. Over time, he says he has become more confident in his cooking, and now opts for more restraint. "I don't want to blow people's minds every second," he says. "Especially these days, a lot of attention is given to how over-the-top and crazy stuff is. Honestly, I'm just interested in being a good neighborhood spot."

The chef, who was born in the US but who spent a significant portion of his childhood in Thailand, is known for creating spicy, sharp Thai party food. Yenbamroong strips down traditional recipes to wring maximum flavor out of minimum hassle. He is releasing his first cookbook, which is named after his restaurant (watch this blog for an upcoming promotion and review). Night+Market is the story of his journey from the Thai-American restaurant classics he grew eating at his family's restaurant, to the rural cooking of Northern Thailand he fell for traveling the countryside. Despite its inspiration, the book is not about cooking in Thailand; rather it's about making Thai food where you live. Most of the ingredients can be found in regular supermarkets. 

All the recipes in the cookbook are the actual ones used at the restaurant. "We have 400 covers a day, and we only have like 45 seats," Yenbamroong says. "That's a lot of turns. So in order to do that with a small kitchen, you have to make it pretty simple and as efficient as possible. And we put it in the book that way."

Tree of Life - Joy E. Stocke & Angie Brenner

When Tree of Life authors' Joy Stocke and Angie Brenner first met in a small resort town on the Mediterranean coast, they discovered a shared love of history, literature, and local food traditions. The two set off on a cultural adventure tour of Turkey that spanned ten years. Later, upon returning home to their respective American kitchens, they recreated the flavors of Anatolia and incorporated them into the food they cooked every day for themselves, family, and friends.

Based on the memoir Anatolian Days and Nights (which I just ordered on Kindle to start reading), Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking shares more than 100 approachable recipes inspired by Turkish food traditions found in the authors' travels. These thoughtful adaptations of authentic dishes draw on easily accessible ingredients while keeping true to traditional techniques. Recipes include Circassian chicken, Carrot hummus with Toasted fennel seeds, Spice-route moussaka, Weeknight lamb manti, Stuffed grape leaves, and Black Sea hazelnut baklava.

Beautiful photographs are peppered throughout the book along with interesting headnotes that make Tree of Life a wonderful read as well as a lovely cookbook. Special thanks to Burgess Lea Press for sharing the recipe for Tomato and walnut salad with pomegranate molasses with us today along with offering three copies for our contest open to EYB members in the US and Canada. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

Tomato and walnut salad with pomegranate molasses
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Serves 4

The walnut tree and its luscious, oil-rich fruit can be traced back to Mesopotamia as early as 2000 BCE. Today, Turkey is among the world's top producers of both tomatoes and walnuts. Turkish cooks have long understood that pairing sweet yet acidic tomatoes with buttery walnuts make a delicious marriage of cultures.

This salad works with any fresh tomatoes in season, but it's more decorative with a mix of heirloom tomatoes in different sizes, hues and flavors. Add it to your meze table or serve as a side dish.

½ cup (60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
3 medium red tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (25 g) coarsely chopped flatleaf parsley


Put the walnuts in a single layer in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Stir the nuts continuously for 2 to 3 minutes until they become fragrant and turn a rich golden-brown. Set aside to cool.

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and put them in a nonreactive serving bowl. If there is any tomato juice left on the cutting board, add it to the bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Add the walnuts and parsley to the tomatoes and gently fold to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss again to mix. Finish with a few more grinds of black pepper, if desired.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Tree of Life, published by Burgess Lea Press. February 2017. Photo credit Jason Varney

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and Canada.  One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on November 19th, 2017.

Melissa Clark on how to create the perfect recipe

Melissa ClarkPopular food writer Melissa Clark is no stranger to recipe development. She creates recipes for her column in The New York Times and other publications, plus she's written or co-written nearly 40 cookbooks. In a recent interview with The Cut, she explains her process for creating the perfect recipe

The first step involves inspiration. Clark says she she sometimes begins with a thought like, "Oh, wouldn't it be fun to add pancetta to gougères?" She'll think about the ways that adding bacon to cheese puffs might make it more delicious, asking questions such as, "do you stuff bacon in the middle, do you chop it up really finely, or do you use bacon fat instead of some of the butter?"

Once the idea is firmly in place, the hard labor begins. Clark says she relies heavily on her recipe tester, although she also pitches in to make and re-make the dish. She admits that she rarely gets something right on the first try, and that the recipe usually requires tweaking along the way. Clark says that she averages four tests per recipe, and that she writes about 65 recipes per year for the newspaper column.

When she goes to restaurants, Clark likes to choose the dish that seems least likely to be successful, theorizing that if the dish works, she will learn more from that than by ordering a more traditional menu item. As for her favorite food indulgences, Clark admits to liking a decidedly non-gourmet food. "I really do love Cheetos, like really badly," she says.

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