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Book Review: Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin

Cross-posted at Rebecca's Reading Rants and Raves
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To categorize this solely as a cookbook would not even come close to capturing this work of art. It is an exquisitely-written history that intertwines a wealth of research, nostalgia (in the best way), and a "larger vision of African American culinary history" (311) that both embraces and expands beyond soul food and the standard narrative. Toni Tipton-Martin says:
And I have tried to end dependency on the labels "Southern" and "soul," and on the assumptions that limit my ancestors' contributions to mindlessly working the fields where the food was grown, stirring the pot where the food was cooked, and passively serving food in the homes of the master class. (13) There is no clichéd history here. Instead, Tipton-Martin crafts a story of urban enclaves in Los Angeles, Louisiana ki…
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Stuffed Cabbage Adventures

So, during this time of global pandemic, I've been focusing my cooking efforts on shelf-stable foods that don't use special ingredients. Cabbage is definitely a great buy right now --it is versatile and will keep for awhile. It is great for soup, slaw, and....stuffed cabbage.

You might know it as "cigares au chou" or "golabki/golumpki" or "halubki/holumki" or "krautrouladen" OR....cabbage rolls. I've never attempted to make these, so I texted the BFF (Katie (aka @ProfWhoCooks at Cook the Book Fridays) and asked her if she had a go-to recipe. She texted back this recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

So there's something you have to know. I'm a bit of a lazy cook. I don't tend to cook things that are overly involved, due to a lack of both time and inclination on my part. But given that options for procrastination on work-related stuff are limited these days, I read the recipe and figured---well, let's go for it.

A few notes:

1.…

Dashi Experiments #1

First post of 2020!
For Christmas, a dear friend gave me Sonoko Sakai's Japanese Home Cooking. This particular dear friend grew up in Japan, cooks Japanese food like nobody's business, and enjoys food as much as I do, so I knew this book would be a treasure.

Beautifully produced, it is the kind of cookbook I love -- one that tells a story. The photographs by Rick Poon are intimate--an invitation to really value and understand the food, the culture, and the chef. I might challenge the byline a bit: "Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors."  In truth, the "simple" part really needs two things: 1) access to some of the ingredients (read: city) and 2) a basic understanding of the culture of Japanese cooking, which is NOT "on-the-go" and "short-on-time."  That said, Sonoko Sakai honors her audience and is realistic about what will be challenging, and what will be more simple. I am so enjoying her prose--she has had a rich and varied life, making th…

Easy Pepper Chicken Stir Fry (review) -- or How to Survive without Oyster Sauce

It is Sunday. I spent the day working at my actual workplace, getting some good work done because...Sunday.

My very sweet spouse offered to pick me up, and as we drove home, I realized I hadn't really thought about what to make for dinner. A quick mental inventory of the fridge: bell peppers, chicken, mushrooms. Next, Google.

The last thing I wanted to do was cook, so honestly I picked the first recipe I could find for which I had ingredients. I could have done a stir fry without a recipe, of course, but I needed some sort of inspiration.

Enter "Easy Pepper Chicken Stir Fry" from Holly at Spend with Pennies.On Pinterest it says "This Pepper Chicken Stir Fry recipe is ridiculously easy to make with ingredients that you already have in your pantry..."

MOSTLY true.  But I will tell you---I do not have oyster sauce in my pantry.  Do you? (Not a rhetorical question---I'm actually curious if that is a standard ingredient that people keep on hand).
*featured produc…

Cookbook Review: Heidi Swanson's Near & Far

Swanson's narrative is one of privilege, it is true. A lot of the reviews at Goodreads have mentioned this, with varying degrees of annoyance. The book, however, does not pretend. The minute you touch the embossed hard cover and look at the photos, you know that this is a chichi cookbook, not Betty Crocker's Cookbook or The Joy of Cooking. The subtitle does not lie: "Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel." And traveled she has: India, Japan, Morocco, France, and Italy. The photos of the destinations are sometimes so artsy as to feel contrived, but they anchor each section in its own ethos. I haven't yet made any of the recipes, but I am inspired. As a committed omnivore, vegetarian recipes rarely inspire me, but I find her approach to flavors intriguing.

If you are someone who likes hunting down interesting ingredients, you will likely enjoy this book. She isn't writing for someone who does not know anything about ethnic foods, so you will not find explanatio…

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Cabbage (Review)

Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound very exciting does it? Well, when you combine two great recipes, it turns out even the mundane can be awesome!


First, let me say that any recipe that asks me to sauté chopped shallots and fresh herbs in pan drippings is a good recipe. Oh, and there's of course butter in them there pan juices.

The pork chops were "Pan-Roasted Berkshire Pork Chops with Vermont Ice Cider" (173) from The Vermont Farm Table Cookbookby Tracy Medeiros. For copyright reasons, I can't produce the recipe here, but suffice it to say, the secrets here are the bone-in chops (with fat), shallots (of course), fresh herbs, and then ice cider for the sauce. The first time I made these I used Neige ice cider that I picked up in Québec, but this time I stayed closer to home with the very lovely "dessert cider" ("Pommeau") from Carr's Ciderhouse in Massachusetts. They are apparently sold out of it for the year, so now I'm regretting finishi…

Slow-Roasted Tomato Open-Faced Sandwiches (or Shout-Out to Antoni Porowski)

With the heat wave we've been having in Boston, our tomatoes have been busting out all over. I've read a lot about the MIRACLE of slow-roasted tomatoes but thought it was just one of those trendy things designed to make you use your oven for 90 minutes so that you feel like you've done something amazing. Well, it turns out that may be true, and they really are amazingly flavorful and it can work miracles even on tomatoes that are underripe OR a bit (A BIT) past their prime (e.g. NOT ROTTEN, just overripe).

I took inspiration from Deb Perelman's Roasted Tomato Picnic Sandwich from Smitten Kitchen Every Day (p. 107), but unlike that, which is really a RECIPE and involves baking pizza dough, this is a lot more akin to one of those recipes Antoni shares on Queer Eye. Now, I mean NO SHADE here--when you are trying to get a person who can barely maintain the rudiments of personal hygiene to cook for their significant other, you don't have them try their hand at chicken c…