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The Green Life: Book Review Wednesday: Preparing Local Produce

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August 04, 2010

Book Review Wednesday: Preparing Local Produce

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about how to prepare and preserve fresh foods from your backyard garden or local farmer's market.

The Vegetarian Slow Cooker (by Judith Finlayson, $28, Robert Rose, Jan. 2010): This colorful recipe book includes a variety of traditional classics and creative originals that appeal to anyone who enjoys coming home to the smell of a hearty meal simmering in the kitchen. Out of the 200 recipes, over 130 are clearly marked as “vegan friendly,” and all of them incorporate foods you can find at your local farmer’s market. Each slow cooker recipe is accompanied by a set of helpful tips and a mouth-watering description of the final product.

The Solar Food Dryer (by Eben Fodor, $15, New Society Publishers, Jan. 2006): This how-to manual shows readers exactly how to make a solar-powered food dehydrator in their own backyard. The book is full of step-by-step instructions, illustrations, science-based explanations, and charts. Although Fodor’s directions seem straightforward, making a solar food dryer appears to be a time-consuming project that is not for the faint of heart.

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh (by Emeril Lagasse, $25, Harper Collins Publishers, June 2010): Chef and TV personality Emeril Lagasse focuses on his “buy fresh, buy local” mantra in this book of unique and healthy recipes. He breaks up the chapters into food categories such as “The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash” and “Roots, Shoots, Tubers, and Bulbs.” The cookbook concludes with a section on preserving fresh produce; recipes include Spicy Tomato Jam, Herbed Oil, and Homemade Applesauce. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a beautiful photograph and a personal statement from the chef.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food (by Karen K. Brees, $19, Penguin Group, July 2009): Preserving food isn’t just jam in a jar—it also means smoking, pickling, freezing, drying, or salting. This all-encompassing book for beginners explains the basic procedures for storing fresh food for an extended period of time through photographs and recipes with “preserving pointers” and “safety checks” scattered throughout its pages.

The Homesteader's Kitchen (by Robin Burnside, $20, Gibbs Smith, Aug. 2010): Just flipping through this attractive cookbook is inspiring. The brilliant photographs alongside recipes such as Fusion Lentil Soup with Basil and Cashew Pesto, Chunky Guacamole Salad, Fresh Summer Fruit Tart with Honey Citrus Cream, and Grilled Wild Salmon Fillet with Thai Cilantro Pesto encourage readers to find locally grown produce and create delectable, wholesome meals.

--Kristin Baldwin

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