Monday, June 21, 2010

winter solstice and a little giving

For those of us at the bottom of the world, tonight is the longest night. Yippee. I'm really enjoying long, cold evenings at the moment. Hot soup, an adoring cat (the SE is interstate at the moment) and a damn good dvd enjoyed under the comfort of a pure wool blanket is perfect for seasonal hibernation.

The dvd du jour is a television series I was far too young to appreciate when it went to air in the late '70's but is currently appealing to both the cook and feminist in me. The Duchess of Duke Street begins with a young woman going into service as a cook in London in 1900. There are shots of her making veal pies, cooking pheasant and demonstrating the original slow cooker (a hay box). Between her and the French chef she works under there are some great lines and tips on cooking. It really is a treat watching the creations of the time (I'd say it shits over Masterch*f but to be honest I haven't watched a single episode of it this season).

On twitter I did a wee rant and a link to my more serious thoughts about the winter solstice. The gist of it is, one of the rituals I have is to practice gratitude and use the day as an end of financial year prompt to give some money to my favourite charities (usually The Smith Family, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Kiva). Tax deductible good karma - how great is that!

Speaking of which, I am in the process of preparing a page for my work website. I'm often asked to recommend credible health related books and then I had the wonderful idea - how about I link my favourites to an online bookstore with an affiliate program and donate the profits to the Smith Family's Learning For Life program.

As I've begun compiling my list it has become pretty obvious, if you haven't worked it out already, that for me one of the cornerstones of good health is eating well. I thought I'd share the first handful of food related books I've come up with and see what you'd add to the list. We aren't talking gastroporn here, rather books featuring easy to follow recipes. Often what people struggle with the most other than the utter basics of cooking, are those who are newly vegetarian or adopting Meat Free Mondays, learning to eat a balanced diet not reliant on pizza or pasta.

(Update: the book icons haven't been showing up in all browsers, so have re-tagged in text. Let me know if you can't see the icons and what browser you are using)

How to Cook Everything: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food: Vegetarian
How to Cook Everything: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food: Vegetarian
I'm a big fan of Mr Bittman and I think this book is an absolute ripper for techniques and good vegetarian recipes.

Eastern Vegetarian Cooking
Eastern Vegetarian Cooking
This is probably my most tattered cookbook attesting to how often I've used it. Madhur taught me how to make dolmades, roll sushi and cook tasty simple dishes with pulses and grains. It's a cheap book and written for the British who've traditionally not been known for their cookery skills - so it is also suitable for beginners.

Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: An Unrivalled Sourcebook of Over 600 Recipes and Ingredients from All Over the Globe
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: An Unrivalled Sourcebook of Over 600 Recipes and Ingredients from All Over the Globe
This is newer than my all time favourite and not limited to Eastern cuisine. It's the pick of one of my oldest vegetarian friends.

The Cook's Companion
The Cook's Companion
This might be too ambitious for a newbie but for those building some cooking confidence she covers basic techniques well but what makes this book a star for me is the list of other foods that the featured ingredients goes with.

The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen
The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen
If Nigel Slater was straight, and I believed in marriage, I'd tie the knot with this bloke because I like his writing so much. Wasn't Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger one of the best foodie memoirs ever written? I've included a couple of Slater books because not only is he a joy to read, his recipes are easy to follow and I figure for those who enjoy eating meat, you can't go better than his chicken roast.

Real Cooking
Real Cooking

Edmonds Cookery Book
Edmonds Cookery Book
Ok not a health book but I was cruising the site and came across it. Other than my mother's tuition, the Edmonds ("sure to rise") book was the one that taught me how to make afghan biscuits and fairy cakes.

Of course, once you know how to cook the next step is understanding the politics of food.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-food World
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-food World

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating

Imagine if Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollen had a love child?!

Thoughts people - on giving, the affiliate idea (pros and cons) and cooking of course?

Though my giving page has not gone live I have already enrolled in Fishpond's affiliate program. That means if you click any of the links above and end up buying something (not just the linked books or dvd) from the site, I receive 10% of the sales. Any profit I gain from the program will be donated to charity.

Update December 2010: A big thanks, a donation update and more healthy cookbooks.

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Blogger Ann ODyne said...

Toast is my absolute Comfort Food, so I should find that book and read it.
I am out in the wide open spaces and on a hill, and it is 4:40 pm and the sun has just come down from above the cloud and everything is golden. It will be gone in about 10 minutes I think. The chooks will be tricked by this sudden sunshine, then make a dash for their coop at 4:50
I love soup with pearl barley in it.

4:42 pm  
Blogger Johanna GGG said...

Happy solstice - thought about a special solstice meal but haven't had the energy - but I did enjoy the crisp foggy morning - love your ideas on giving and love hearing which books you would recommend - I got the Stephanie Alexander book and love it for its basic ideas about different ingredients - love dipping into it when I feel enthused about a fruit or veg.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

That Stephanie Alexander book is my all time favourite! It is definitely my "go to" book when i want to learn about an ingredient or get inspiration for a meal!

8:18 am  
Blogger Tassiegal said...

Not seeing the icons in firefox. But some of them sound yummy!

1:15 pm  
Anonymous PostboxEatsHand said...

The Yoga Cookbook - Vegetarian Food for Body and Mind, may well fit your needs if you don't already recommend it. It includes some simple background information on general healthy eating and living principles from a yogic perspective. The recipies utilise a variety of grains, pulses and vegetables and can be useful for people wanting to delve into the world of grains such a quinoa, buckwheat and millet. I can't ever see myself using the 'eggless mayonaise' recipie but there's plenty of interesting dishes and some great food/health phillosphy for people to ponder.

11:00 pm  
Blogger Kath Lockett said...

Yes - Nigel Slater's 'Toast' was an utterly gorgeous read. Lent it to someone a year or so back and never got it back....

....instead of hassling them, though, maybe I should just read some of his recipe books instead?

9:34 am  
Blogger vialentino said...

hi hi...stumble to ur blog...nice bloggie...u live in melbourne...nice!

4:24 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Not sure what the on again off again thing with the book icons is about. I emailed fishpond who responded they'd checked the link in firefox and chrome and all was visible. I checked again and they'd magically appeared in they've gone.

Ah technology....that's why I like the solidness of a good book in my hands. No going invisible there!

Thanks for your comments and thoughts - more please :)

4:48 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

I think Jam Today by Tod Davies is a great book about learning how to cook, as she says, with what you've got. Not recipes in the traditional sense, just good sense. Plus she's a little independent publishing press and we all like that, no?

No idea how affiliates programmes actually work, but really pleased you're thinking of any profit going to charity.

5:45 pm  
Blogger lisa said...

I really, really, really want a copy of Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I've borrowed it from the library a few times - it's gold.

3:02 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Lisa check out Dymocks. I got Bittman there for under 50 bucks earlier in the month.

3:45 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Oh thank you click through fairy! First sales(s) made.

2:54 pm  

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