Tag Archives: cookbook



Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook
Author: Theresa Carle-Sanders
Publisher: Delacorte Press (2016)
Genre: Cookbook
Hardcover Edition: 324 pages with index and photos
Source: Personal copy

If you are still basking in the memories of the outstanding finale of this season’s Outlander, maybe you would like to extend your daydreams with a closer look at this cookbook.

Carle-Sanders has done the research. We can enjoy the read and make some of these recipes in the comfort of a 21st century kitchen. This author leaves no stones unturned. (pun intended). She begins with the pantry for a time-traveling kitchen. In this section she gives important tips like this note: “it takes more kosher salt than regular table salt to season a dish, so if you are using table salt, use about half the amount of the kosher salt called for.” p. 5. She has sections on equipment and a glossary of techniques.

For the recipes she includes quotes from many of Gabaldon’s books. Not only are these a joy to read, they take you to the spot you need to be as a kitchen cook looking for inspiration, or just plain fun.

The book is full of interesting notes such as the fact that authentic cullen skink is a soup made with finnan haddie, haddock caught off the Moray Firth and smoked using green wood and peat. Even my Scotch great grandmothers pioneering in Iowa in the 19th century did not have that ingredient for their soup. They probably used the salt cod that could be ordered from the Montgomery Wards catalog. They did have onions, butter, potatoes, milk.

There are the usual more modern, yet timeless, recipes: Oyster Stew, Shepard’s Pie, Steamed Mussels, Oxford Baked Beans, Corn Muffins, Apple Fritters, Gingerbread – well you get the idea. There are recipes so modern they surprise you: Hot Chocolate, Upside-Down Plum Cake, Cheese Enchiladas, Pizza, Spaghetti and Meatballs.
There are special recipes I can’t wait to try such as Tortellini Portofino. Always there’s a paragraph reference from one of Gabaldon’s books, great photos, and clear directions, as well as notes about ingredients, if needed, for every recipe.

It’s a book filled with recipes and information that spans centuries and continents.
There’s no doubt I’ve hours of enjoyment ahead with this cookbook. And if I travel through the stones, more interesting cooking and eating. Cheese Savories, anyone? I’ll be making these with Paris on my mind.



200 Skills Every Cook Must Have
Authors: Clara Paul and Eric Treuille
Publisher: Firefly Books 2013
Genre: How-To
251 pages
Source: Library copy

Here’s a book that changed my in-the-kitchen point of view. When I lifted this book off the shelf, the thoughts flashing through my mind went something like this: I don’t need any more cooking equipment I have no place to store, I don’t need complicated instructions or to learn difficult cooking techniques, This cookbook is of little interest to me.

But as I paged through this book, and then spent some time reading, I decided I might discover better ways to complete routine tasks. Maybe there were techniques I could execute in a more simple and effective manner. The book did appear packed with useful information.

And it is. It is a wise, easy-to-read illustrated guide to cooking techniques and equipment. It includes all sorts of useful information to make your time in your kitchen more successful.

The page on vinaigrette is organized as Tools and Ingredients, Method and Expert Tips, along with helpful photos. Vinaigrette is something I whisk together nearly every day, and still I learned something on this page. White Sauce is another example. Though I don’t make it very often, and I’ve known how to do it for years, the tips are helpful. An example of a piece of equipment that would benefit my kitchen is a smaller fine mesh strainer. That item would take up little space. I don’t expect to scale or fillet fish, yet it makes for some interesting reading. Cooking fish in parchment paper so it tastes yummy––there’s something I need to learn.

The book is readable, well organized and includes excellent illustrations. The graphic design and print are both totally inviting. Each page is a quick read. The book presents helpful information on equipment, skills, a glossary, dictionary, resources and charts and more.

This guide is not only for the novice cook. I’m not sure I can get along without it. This is a cooking book I know I would find useful. Check it out and see what you think.


The perfect peach

The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm
By Marcy, Nikiko and David Mas Masumoto
Ten Speed Press 2013
168 pages
Source: Personal Copy

The information and stories in this book are fascinating. And there are delightful recipes. Since I grew up on a farm, too, albeit an Iowa dairy farm, I connect with the Masumoto family, even though their place and history are vastly different from mine. Nikiko gives us “Peach Education”, and Marcy writes about lessons she’s learned cooking peaches. Mas relates varied information from mistakes he’s made as a farmer to information about peach varieties. His piece entitled “Ghosts of Farmworkers” brought to mind scenes set in the orchards in the novel The Orchardist (see previous post on the Home Page). Mas Masumoto is a respectful and thoughtful man. I’m glad such a person is growing food. I consider it a noble calling.

This is a food book that first appeared in one of my earlier blogs: Cookbook Choices. I subsequently choose it for purchase at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs. The authors are members of the Masumoto family. Their farm is located near Fresno in California’s Central Valley.

Thanks to the book’s jacket, I can tell you that Mas is an organic peach and grape farmer, and writer who has a previously published book and is currently a columnist for the Fresno Bee. His wife Marcy is a co-owner of the farm. She selects peach varieties and develops recipes and products. Daughter Nikiko grew up on the farm and works there full-time as an apprentice and artist.

An interesting feature of the book’s recipes is the flavors that are paired: pesto and peaches, blue cheese and peaches, ginger and onions as ingredients in Marcy’s Peach Chutney. Other pairings are naturals: pork and peaches, peaches and blackberries, peaches and oranges.

Nostalgia grabs me again in this book when I read about pickled peaches. Pickled peaches were a staple on the table of my maternal grandparents and at my mother’s table. I didn’t know I missed them until I met them again in this book. According to Nikiko , the recipe in The Perfect Peach comes from a Japanese Cucumber Salad. I’m not sure of the origin of my grandparents’ pickled peaches, but I know it was not Japanese Cucumber Salad. Still, I want to try this recipe and see if it echos the pickled peaches of my youth.

Mas is a gifted writer who can convey his understandings of the food world, his vision, and his vocation. He emphasizes his many partners in creating a perfect peach. He gives credit to all the workers involved. His essay “Letting Go: The Death of an Old Farmer” is a beautiful loving piece of writing about life and death and his Dad. Nearly every page in this book offers surprise and insight.

Much pleasure yet awaits as I spend time with the stories, the recipes and the information presented in this beautiful book. Staci Valentine delivers photos that enhance every kind of food. I found the graphic design of the book added to the ease of reading the different types of text and significantly increased the reading experience.

More information can be found at their website.