The Readable Feast

BY LOUISA KASDON

What could be a more delicious and thoughtful gift to give this holiday? Foodie or not, we think each of the books in our holiday Readable Feast selection are golden tickets to making winter in New England delectable. Tempting recipes for sweet and savory from local chefs and local stars, enticing new culinary skills, deeper understanding of our food in our world and the simple pleasure of reading beautiful words and gazing at edible gorgeousness. Read on!

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American Seafood
Heritage, Culture & Cookery From Sea to Shining Sea

Author: Barton Seaver
STERLING EPICURE

A book for the ages. This is a full and fascinating history of fish, fishermen and the foundational impact on American life and culture of finding food in the sea. Whether you keep this somewhat massive tome in the living room as a coffee table book, by your bedside to dip into at night or in the kitchen for inspiration and guidance, you have to have it in your house. Seaver’s key message is that while we gloriously celebrate the American farmer and farming culture, in fact it is our oceans—and our seafaring and coastal culture—that allowed our nation to thrive.

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Homegrown
Cooking from my New England Roots

Author: Matt Jennings
ARTISAN PRESS

Ten minutes into reading Matt Jennings’ new cookbook I had to leave the house and hit the market for the ingredients for the lamb meatballs with yogurt sauce––or maybe the mussels with red curry and lemongrass instead? A half hour in, my brand-new copy was already happily splattered. Kudos to Townsman’s chef, who has written a chef’s cookbook that is creative and gorgeously illustrated but never intimidating. Perfect recipes for New England winter nights!

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Urban Grape’s Drink Progressively
From White to Red, Light to Full-Bodied, a Bold New Way to Pair Wine with Food

Author: Hadley & TJ Douglas
Recipes:
Chef Gabriel Frasca
SPRING HOUSE PRESS

If you love wine, you will love this book. If you know a lot about wine, you’ll love this book even more. If you love wine but the responsibility of choosing the right wine makes you feel like a complete idiot, you will adore this book. The owners of the South End’s Urban Grape have put together a simple, satisfying and possibly revolutionary way to select a perfect wine without having to fake it, from the lightest-bodied white to the huskiest red. Buy it for every wine drinker on your list.

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The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living
Author: Louise Miller
PENGUIN BOOKS

The fiction equivalent of comfort food! Louise Miller, a Boston-based pastry chef, has written an irresistible debut novel about baking and life in a New England inn, with plenty of romance, humor and even recipes. The ultimate happy read for a cozy winter’s night! Just out in paperback.

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The Vermont Non-GMO Cookbook
125 Organic and Farm-to-Fork Recipes from the Green Mountain State

Author: Tracey Medeiros
SKYHORSE PUBLISHING

 

In a way, the clunky title of this book hides its true loveliness. The recipes are lovely, fresh and very much a celebration of what grows in Vermont, and the hardworking and committed farmers who deliver earthy, healthy and heritage food to our tables. In addition to being a comforting cookbook full of new ways to treat traditional foods, it’s a great travel guide for anyone who plans to spend time in Vermont looking for great places to eat and shop!

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Home Sausage Making
From Fresh and Cooked to Smoked, Dried, and Cured

Author: Charles G. Reavis & Evelyn Battaglia with Mary Reilly
STOREY

 

If you want to know the difference between salumi versus salami, brand your own mortadella, loukanico or kielbasa, or even make a vegetarian sausage out of black beans and smoked corn, here’s your local guide. Now in its fourth printing, this book is the DIY charcuterie crowd’s local bible and somehow it convinced me that I just might want to try my hand (and my grinder) at making a killer kishke.

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Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond
A Fun & Flavorful Guide to Fermenting Your Own Probiotic Beverages at Home

Author: Alex Lewin & Raquel Guajardo
FAIR WINDS, HACHETTE PRESS

A DIY manual for would-be home fermenters—those of us who love the idea of making vinegar, kombucha and jun, fruit cider, kefir, yogurt and mango lassi. Not to mention ginger beer, mead, beet kvass and pickle brine. We’re already on the probiotic train and this is our new, information-packed, beautifully photographed and easy-to-use bible.

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Myers & Chang at Home
Yum Me Yum You Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery

Author: Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz
Images: Kristin Teig
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT

We’ve all been patiently waiting for this book to come out. Tapping our toes with anticipation and mouths watering. We are not disappointed. The very first Myers & Chang cookbook
is delicious––and addictive. If you didn’t have a mother like Chang’s who could coach you through Asian pantry and palate, thank the gods that Akunowicz and Chang are stepping into your home kitchen. As I write this, I smell the Garlicky Spicy Coal Black Chicken Wings baking in my oven.

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Against All Hops
Techniques and Philosophy for Creating Extraordinary Botanical Beers

Author: Butch Heilshorn, Co-Founder of Earth Eagle Brewings
PAGE STREET PRESS A fascinating guide to a very new and antique adventure in brewing

Against All Hops is a study in how to brew beers and ales using herbs rather than hops to better preserve and flavor. The ancient name for hop-less ale is “gruit,” which sounds wonderfully medieval. If that fascinates or sends you to Wikipedia (or even “Game of Thrones”), there is great appeal in this book. The author tells you how to brew using such novel ingredients as Chinese rock sugar, pine twine and needles, Queen Anne’s lace and rose hips. The clear, confident technique and recipes make it all seem possible even for a first-time home brewer. 

 

Louisa Kasdon is the author of more than 500 published articles about food, restaurants, health, and business. She was the food editor for the Boston Phoenix/Stuff Magazine and a regular contributor to ZesterDaily.com. She is the founder/CEO of Let’s Talk About Food, letstalkaboutfood.com, an events-based organization that brings the public together around issues in our food system. She can be reached at Louisa@letstalkaboutfood.com.