Finally, a FUN cookbook

I absolutely love cookbooks!  Nearly every trip to a book store, or thrift store ends with a cookbook in my hand.  Needless to say, I have read more than my fair share of cookbooks.  Even though I love to flip through them and find new recipes and ideas, I’m often left with the feeling of deja vu.  The recipes are all similar, with one or two slight differences here and there.  Recipes rarely stand out, and I often only find one or two recipes that I believe are worth my attention.

I expected the same when I received “Milk Bar Life” by Christina Tosi.  I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open this book and began flipping through the recipes.  Not only are the pictures gorgeous, but the recipes are fun and unique.  After the first 10 pages, I stopped trying to flag recipes to make because nearly every page was tagged!

Throughout the pages there are tips, and ideas in the margins.  I find the “feel free to add” bubbles extremely helpful in making a recipe unique to our family.  The author also includes some history of the recipes and her restaurant, Momofuku Milk Bar.

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One of my favorite sections is “hand me downs” which contains recipes from the authors family that we are lucky enough to receive.  Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies are included in my long list of must makes from this book.  These cookies look amazing, with sweetened shredded coconut and a confectioners’ sugar glaze. Another recipe on my list is “Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter and Breakfast Sausage”, all I have to say is YUM!

Anyone that knows me, knows that baking is part of who I am.  I love winter because my house is warmed by the oven and there are cookies, and cakes always ready to be enjoyed.  This is why I especially look forward to trying the recipes in the chapter, “A Cookie a Day….”. Maple Pecan Cookies, Fruity-Pebble Meringues, Molasses-Rye Cookies, Banana Cookies, Thai Tea Cookies.  Whatever your taste, there is a cookie in this book for you!

I’ve only scratched the surface of the incredible recipes in this book.  Other recipe sections include: Supermarket, We are Family, Weak Nights, Freakin’ Weekend, Cookout/Bonfire, Craft Night/Sleepover, and Going Out.

I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone with a sense of adventure in the kitchen.  Now lets get baking!

For more information about this book, click here.
Thanks for reading!
Cindy Dorfsmith
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

The Soup Club

I’ve always liked the idea of food exchanges, so naturally I was drawn to The Soup Club Cookbook.  This isn’t just a cookbook, the four ladies who wrote this book (Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow and Julie Peacock) seemed to think of every aspect of a soup club.  It begins with “How to be a Soup Club” and explains how they began their adventure.  They explain very clearly the process of making soups, even the challenges you may face, which is refreshing.  They include a list of pantry essentials, tools, and spices that you want to have on hand. This section of the book also includes the basics of broths, soups of assembly and toppings, all essential for the soup club recipes.

The Soup Club recipes begin on page 53 and includes over 50 soup recipes made for exchanging!  A soup club involves a mass cooking event.  With 4 people in the exchange you will make a large batch of soup (the book suggests one quart per person) once a week.  This may seem a huge task, but remember that three of your weeks meals will be provided by the others in your club!

The soup recipes are divided by soup types starting with bean soups.  I can’t wait to try the Chickpea, Roasted Squash, and Farro Soup when my garden is producing squash this year! Next up are purees.  It includes some basics like Potato Cheddar, and some more adventurous ones like Carrot Coconut Soup.  Since purees aren’t very filling, making hearty bread or side would be a good idea.  Hearty soups follow the purees.  This section includes all of those thick soups that you normally see during the fall and winter.  I’ve never been a fan of cold soups personally, but for those that like them, there are several recipes for you to try in the chilled soup section of the book.  The next recipes are fish soups, Thai Fish Curry looks amazing!  The meat soup recipes are last.  I would call most of these recipes stews.

The last part of The Soup Club Cookbook is “Food for Forks & Fingers”.  This section includes salads, vegetables, breads, grains & pastas, big food and cook’s snacks.  This is handy for adding additional items to a soup and snacks to make while you’re cooking your soup (for those of us that like to nibble while in the kitchen).  Many of the recipes in this section can also be used for potlucks, or an every day meal.

Overall this is a great cookbook with many recipes I’ll be trying out.  However, the idea of eating soup four days a week as suggested in this book is a bit overwhelming to me.  I think cooking and exchanging soup once a month would be better not only for my schedule, but also for my taste buds!

Thanks for reading!

Cindy Dorfsmith

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Hobbit Gardens aka Postage Stamp Gardening

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb

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I was very excited to get and read this book. You see, I’m scared of plants. Now, I’ll eat most plants put in front of me (especially when slathered in butter), however when it comes to growing plants, my knees get to shaking! So, the idea of starting with a teeny tiny garden is very appealing.

Unfortunately, what I found from this book was not what I was hoping for. The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden contained the basic information given in the Square Foot Gardening book, only without the neatness of square feet. I rather enjoy order and a systematic approach to things, so the idea of wildly sowing seeds in a willy nilly pattern makes my slight obsessive personality shudder.

The straight gardening information was sound and gave good advice as to when, and even suggestions on how much, to plant. This information was the bulk of the book, so for a very beginner, it might be a good resource to have.

For those that enjoy the idea of a more natural, carefree style of gardening, this book may provide you with some great ideas! For those that enjoy traditional row gardening or the more orderly square-foot method, this book may not be for you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

How to Stew in Your Own Juices aka A Pressure Cooker Cookbook Review!

The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book – 500 Easy Recipes for Every Machine, Both Stovetop and Electric

By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

My dad got me a very nice pressure cooker a couple years ago. I’ve used it a few times – right after getting it – but it has largely languished in the corner of its cabinet. I love the idea of having a full, balanced meal be ready in half the time it takes to make it conventionally. I love the idea of one-pot meals. But I just haven’t gotten around to making my pressure cooker my friend. Silly, I know, but there you have it!

This cookbook might be the oomph I need to start working my pressure cooker into my regular routine!

The cookbook is simple in its design and illustrations, both on the covers and the inside, but it’s elegant and aesthetically pleasing. The recipes are formatted one right after the other, so there is next to no wasted space in the book, which is a good thing given how big this book is! The center of the book contains color photos of a handful of the recipes.

In the introduction, the authors put forth four pressure cooking personalities: The Ingénue, one clueless about pressure cooking; The Nervous Nellie, one scared by pressure cooking; The Doubting Thomas, one a bit skeptical of pressure cooking’s virtues; and The Culinary Apostle, the one that utilizes every aspect of the pressure cooker. I’m a Doubting Thomas, I suppose. I’ve got a pressure cooker, I just don’t think of using a pressure cooker first when it comes to thinking up meals for my family.

One note that was particularly nice to see, and one that is very pertinent to you readers was the blurb on high altitude pressure cooking. You don’t have to change any of the ingredients or steps of the recipe, but you will need to change the cooking time. As most of you will know, water boils at a lower temperature up in Flagstaff as compared to Phoenix – less atmospheric pressure against the water molecules. This is critical when it comes to pressure cooking because the temperature at which the cooker reaches high pressure is less than it is at sea level. So, to compensate, the rule is this: increase the time spent at high pressure by 5% for every 1,000 ft after the first 2,000 ft above sea level.

So: If you lived at sea level, or up to 2,000 ft above sea level, you could use the times given as-is from the cookbook. Once you reached 3,000 ft above sea level, you would need to start increasing the cooking time in increments of 5%. For those living in Flagstaff, or its immediate surrounding areas (my home in Parks is actually a tad lower in elevation that Flagstaff proper), we need to add 25% to the cooking time. If a recipe says cook for 10 minutes at high pressure, then we would cook it for 12 minutes and then continue with the recipe. Simple, but important! We don’t want undercooked food.

The cookbook had several main chapters and many of those had sub-chapters. There was a whole section on breakfast in the pressure cooker, including making “boiled” eggs! In addition to the first meal of the day, this book has recipes for nearly every other meal: both main-course soups as well as side soups; meats (beef, pork, lamb, and even rabbit!); chicken and other poultry; seafood; vegetables both as sides and vegetarian main courses; rice and grains; beans and lentils; and even desserts!

I was able to find at least one, if not more, recipe from each of the sections, and I’m looking forward to trying some. I plan on making the Apple Maple Oatmeal tomorrow morning – steel cut oats without pre-soaking? Sign me up! And I’ll be making a rabbit dish this week as well.

One of the things that was great about these recipes – yes I did read through nearly every one! – was that the ingredients were mostly “everyday” ingredients. A few recipes had some harder-to-find components, but if they did, there was almost always a substitute listed in the Notes section after the recipe.

If you own a pressure cooker, or have been thinking about getting one, I would highly recommend this book as a way to pump up your pressure cooking repertoire. I think this is going to be a cookbook that I come back to again and again.

I’ll be back later this week with an update on using the recipes in the book, and maybe share a recipe and pictures!

Do you own this cookbook? If so, what do you think of it? What’s your favorite recipe?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

(This post contains affiliate links)

A Short Intro

Hello Simply Flagstaff readers!

 

I just wanted to make a quick little post to say hello. I’m Christine. Cindy was so awesome to share her blog-space with me and let me contribute to this wonderful blog on all things living simply in Flagstaff.

 

A little about me: I don’t actually live in Flagstaff, but out in Parks. I’ve got a bit more room to stretch and try things out, like chickens and rabbits! This May, I’ll be graduating from nursing school and braving the world of hospitals and needles and modern medicine. In contrast, though, I love using herbal remedies and essential oils to help cure what ails me and my family. I’m hoping to try my hand at gardening this spring – plants scare me…

 

My hopes are to share posts on sewing, knitting, raising (and processing and eating!) animals, DIY home products, DIY beauty products, cooking, and maybe even a bit on gardening! If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see please let us know!!

Book Review: The Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart

The Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart is a fresh new look at baking in a very traditional way.  This book not only gives you step by step directions on how to make sprouted and whole grain breads, but it takes an in depth look at the milling process and the difference between 100% whole wheat and whole-milled flour.

I was especially pleased with chapter 1, a tutorial which is a thorough list of tools, ingredients, and instructions.  This is the first time I’ve seen a tutorial in a cookbook. This chapter starts off with a list of tools that are used, and a description.  Next is a list of ingredients and their definitions as well as their functions.  The glossary of baking terms comes next which contains information that is extremely helpful in baking.   The final pages of chapter 1 explain bakers math, and step by step direction on how to work with dough.  If you ever wanted to know how to shape a baguette or a boule this book gives step by step directions with pictures!

The next chapter goes into detail about sourdough.  How sourdough works, and making a sourdough starter.  The detail in this section is great and includes day by day instructions.

Chapter 3 discuses sprouted flour breads.  The author includes step by step directions on how to sprout and dry grains for flour.  I’ve wanted to make my own sprouted flour for awhile and after reading this chapter I feel that I have all the tools I need to begin.  This is also where the recipes begin.  Sprouted wheat pancakes, sprouted whole wheat bread, and sprouted wheat bagels are just the start.  The recipes are easy to understand and very informative.

I’ve never heard of Sprouted pulp breads, but that’s what the next chapter is all about.  “For sprouted pulp, instead of drying the sprouted grain run the sprouts through a meat grinder.”  This sounds like a time saver to me, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

Chapter 5 is talks about whole grain vs. whole milled.  It’s actually two very different processes, whole milled being much more complete.  A slew of whole milled recipes follow including whole wheat currant pretzels, and whole wheat and raisin English muffins.

“The Next New Bread Frontier” and “The Road Ahead” come next in this beautiful book.  These chapters explains using Prebiotics, grape skins, and dried pulp of coffee in baking and includes several recipes.  I doubt I will ever dive this deep into baking in my kitchen, but its interesting information and possibly the future of baking.

Overall this book is really well put together and I recommend it to anyone that wants to dive deeper into making sprouted and whole grain breads.  Now, off to go sprout some wheat to make some bread!

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Revamp a Lamp

Last week I realized I was in need of a lamp for my desk, but after looking at a few price tags I decided that the thrift store would be more friendly to my bank account.  It didn’t take long before I found this nice stainless lamp, but was unimpressed with the dull yellow lamp shade.

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Thankfully I had just bought a remnant of bright red fabric from JoAnns and decided that it would match my decor much better.  So I set out to figure out how to recover the mustard yellow lamp shade.

First, I roughly measured the lamp and cut the fabric to fit leaving a quarter inch overhang on the bottom and top of the shade and roughly two inches of fabric to overlap the circumference of the shade.  I then hot glued one of the ends to the shade and ironed a quarter inch fold on the other end of the fabric.

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I wrapped the fabric around the shade pulling it tight  and hot glued the end seam down.

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Next, I trimmed the top and bottom of the shade to leave a small overlap.

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Then I hot glued the edge down working in one inch sections.

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After completing the edges I went back around and secured any sections that did not completely seal down.

With a little hot glue and some imagination I turned this boring yellow lamp into a fun and modern addition to my desk.

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Thanks for reading!

Cindy