In yesterday’s budget-minded post, I forgot to mention one skill that would behoove any thrifty cook to learn: preserving and canning. Can’t say why I haven’t gotten around to trying my hand at this age-old kitchen tradition myself–it could be because I have no room to store all necessary canning equipment, or maybe it’s because of my irrational fear of botulism. (Fun fact: The word “botulism” is derived from the Latin botulus, which means sausage, because the problem was first identified with improperly stored sausages in the 1800s.)
Still. Learning how to can and preserve is still at the top of my to-do list for 2012. Hopefully the experience will be food poisoning-free.
In any case, if you’re as interested in these kinds of techniques as much as I am, you might want to check out the upcoming cookbook The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves and Aigre-Doux, by Paul Virant and Kate Leahy, due out April 3. (What’s aigre-doux, you say? It’s a French term used to describe combined sour (aigre) and sweet (doux) tastes, as in, for example, a sauce with a sugar-vinegar base.)
Ok, so full disclosure here: Kate Leahy is the very talented cookbook writer/cook/epicurean genius behind the food blog A Modern Meal Maker, and she also happens to be one of my good friends. We met while we were both doing our master’s degrees at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and have been talking about food ever since!
She not only has an impressive culinary background, but she’s also co-written the famed A:16 Food and Wine cookbook, which came out in 2009. (See my at-home A16 feast here.) And now she’s gone and collaborated with Paul Virant, the acclaimed executive chef at Vie, a Michelin-starred New American restaurant in Western Springs, Ill. that specializes in seasonal cuisine, to create what looks to be a truly beautiful cookbook that’s jam-packed (ha) with recipes for preserves, such as jams, relishes, pickles, brandied fruits and conserves.
The second half of the book apparently pairs the recipes in the previous pages with seasonal menus. Example: brandied cherries in a cherry clafoutis and smoked spring onion relish with chicken fried steak. Yum!
So I may be biased toward this book, since my friend co-wrote it, but it’s worth checking out if you’re really interested in preserving and canning technique since Virant is quite the expert on the subject . If you’re like me and just can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, you can pre-order it at Amazon.com (naturally). This might be the push I need to finally invest in a pressure canning set. Or at least get over my angst over botulism in general.
Congrats, Kate, on putting another fine cookbook on your shelf!