Kevin West lives in L.A.; he’s not a farmer or a gardener. But he is an aficionado of local farmer’s markets and farm stands who found himself frustrated by the fleeting nature of nature’s abundance. When he set out to capture the fabulous essence of each season by preserving it, he realized he was returning to his East Tennessee roots and childhood memories. A blog followed and, now, Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving, a complete companion to mastering the art of putting up and putting by—making sweet preserves with fruit and savory preserves with vegetables, and using simple techniques for drying, freezing and storing seasonal produce. The recipes (more than 220) are, of course, organized by season, and accompanied by stories (preserver extraordinaire West is also a gifted Southern storyteller) and essays that entertain, educate and take you into the cuisine and culture of food preservation. Look no further: This is the only preserving book you need for this season and all that follow.
THE FOOD OF A FREE SPIRIT
Jane Coxwell is Diane von Furstenberg’s personal chef and spends most of her time on the big, beautiful yacht that von Furstenberg and Barry Diller own, creating light, lively, luscious meals as they cruise the world. So it’s no surprise that her food has been inspired by her travels to Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Central America and her homeland, South Africa. Coxwell is a free spirit whose zest for the world and its food is truly infectious, and in Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes, her debut cookbook, lavishly illustrated with full-color photos, she shares her fresh, low-key approach to cooking, with memories and experiences included. Good header notes and fully fleshed-out instructions enable landlubbers like us to join Coxwell in turning out a mélange of morning mueslis, standout soups, salads, seafood, sauces and sides, plus great grain dishes and masterful mains like Cilantro Fish, Lamb and Quinoa Koftas and Cape Malay Lamb Curry, all in our own landlocked galleys.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Noted omnivore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall seems to have taken to heart Michael Pollan’s admonition to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Well, I’m not sure about the not-too-much part, because River Cottage Veg, his new paean to vegetables, is big, beautiful and so bountiful that it’s not going to encourage moderation. Just looking at the luscious full-color photos is enough to make a committed carnivore morph into an advocate of the mostly veggie approach to everyday eating. His 200 recipes take you from multilayered, multifaceted mains, such as Kale and Mushroom Lasagna and Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin, to hearty salads, hefty soups—try the summery Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise—and super suppers that come right off the pantry shelf; from pasta-, rice- and grain-based dinner winners, to a superb sampling of small plates à la meze and tapas—like marinated Zucchini and Mozzarella—to a bonanza of roasted, grilled and broiled centerpieces and sides. His approach is practical and practiced, his enthusiasm boundless and inspiring. Vegging out has just taken on a new and delicious meaning.