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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Enter a World of Saffron, Rose Petals, and Family Stories

Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories
By Naz Deravian
(Flatiron Books, September 2018)
In Bottom of the Pot, Naz Deravian, a Los Angeles-based writer and home cook, shares her world of saffron, rose petals, pistachios, dried limes, tamarind, memories, music, and poetry to introduce over 100 recipes. She describes the book as “a collection of recipes and stories from the past and present.”
Part of that past is Deravian’s own journey. She left Iran with her family when she was eight years old during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Over the following ten years, the family emigrated from Iran to Rome and then to Vancouver, carrying various keepsakes along with their family recipes.
The cookbook shares some of Deravian’s personal history together with recipes that are easily managed by home cooks. They use produce and herbs that are readily available here in the East Bay. I made an easy chicken dish with saffron, onions, garlic, and lemon over jasmine rice that paired well with a simple recipe for roasted okra with two dipping sauces, one made from tamarind and maple syrup and the other with yogurt and dill.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

A New Look at Soul Classics

SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes
By Todd Richards
(Oxmoor House, May 2018)
Soul, a terrific new cookbook by self-taught James Beard Award–nominated Chef Todd Richards, is great inspiration for making use of the colorful abundance of late summer and early fall produce in markets right now. Richards’ mantra is that chefs can honor the soul food tradition while still exploring, experimenting, and seeking inspiration from global cuisines. And that’s exactly what he does with more than 150 recipes for creative renditions of soul food. Dishes like Blueberry-Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken Thighs, Grilled Peach Toast with Pimiento, Pork Jowl with Brussels Sprouts Slaw, and Collard Green Ramen (a classic pot of Collard Greens with Ham Hocks together with a new interpretation that builds on the classic) all draw on a mix of cultural influences to create modern takes. Chapters are organized by ingredients: Collards, Onions, Berries, Lamb, Seafood, Corn, Tomatoes, Melons, Stone Fruit, Eggs and Poultry, Pork and Beef, Beans and Rice, and Roots. Each one begins with a traditional recipe and evolves through Richard’s reinterpretations and updates exploring flavor combinations and cooking techniques.
Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with
our readers. 

Selection of stone fruit at Monterey Market in Berkeley.

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Baking Inspiration from the Garden

Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb: Baked Sweets that Taste of Nature
By Hayley McKee
(Hardie Grant Books, 2018)

I love earthy recipes that let you pick your ingredients directly from the garden. Flowers, herbs, and edible plants abound in Hayley McKee’s cookbook, looking like they were just brought in from the yard (as they probably were). As bakery owner McKee says in her Introduction, “For me, baking and the garden are inseparable.”

Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb includes 60 inventive recipes that are lean on sugar and long on intense, infused flavor. McKee’s baked goods taste and smell like items from the garden. Even the colors come from the plants she uses. Intriguing flavors, as McKee says, create a “mysterious undertone [that] can be hard to pin down.” McKee’s Beetroot and Rose Truffle Cake, which alternates layers of chocolate cake with pink cream, is decorated with garden greenery. Burnt Orange and Smoked Lavender Almond Tea Cakes are filled with bitter, chewy orange pieces and served with a smoky side of cream. Raspberry, Orange and Basil Oil Loaf has a light crumb that shows pale green when sliced, with shades of pink throughout from the raspberries, and scents of orange peel and basil.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Stone Fruits and Family Farms

Earlier this summer, I joined my friend Victoria for her annual pilgrimage to Wolfe Ranch in Brentwood, where she goes for Blenheim apricots. Located 40 minutes from Berkeley down a winding country road and across a small bridge, this family-owned orchard sells apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and other fruits. The sunny morning we visited the quiet, bucolic orchard, we found perfectly ripe Blenheim apricots set out on a table in an open-air barn. We probably ate a dozen between us on our way home, their velvet-soft rosy-orange skin yielding to our touch.

Victoria has been visiting the farm for 20 years, buying stone fruit by the box-load, eating some right away, and preserving the rest to enjoy during the cold, rainy winter months. She recalls seeing many more family farms operating in the area when she first began visiting. As in other agricultural regions in Northern California, demand for commercial and residential real estate, together with the physical demands of farm work (apricots, for example, are picked by hand), has resulted in many family farms being sold off or scaled back.

Apricot season has wound down, but other fruits, like Fay Elberta peaches, are available at Wolfe Ranch and other orchards and farms in the Brentwood area.… Read More

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Photo: Kathleen Ballard Photography

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
by Thor Hanson
(Basic Books, 2018)

Bees provide honey, contribute to the beauty of flowers, and supply as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. But they’re also at risk of disappearing. This is the topic of concern that Dr. Thor Hanson, a Guggenheim Fellow, Switzer Environmental Fellow, and award-winning author and biologist, addresses in his new book. Buzz is a natural and cultural history of the more than 20,000 varieties of bees, from honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons. Hanson explores the conditions—pesticides, diminishing food supplies, and diseases—damaging both wild bee populations and honeybee colonies. The book is an accessible and engaging read; particularly enjoyable are Hanson’s descriptions of his own forays into the world of bees.  

Meet biologist Thor Hanson, author of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
Friday August 3, 7:30pm
Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts
2904 College Ave, Berkeley
info: here

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with
our readers. 

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Kids in the Kitchen

New Favorites for New Cooks:
50 Delicious Recipes for Kids to Make

By Carolyn Federman
(Ten Speed Press, 2018)

A new cookbook by Berkeley native Carolyn Federman might provide just the support you need to get your children busy in the kitchen. Federman has had a long tenure in food education, consulting on policy and program development for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, co-founding the Berkeley Food Institute, producing UC Berkeley’s Edible Education course with Michael Pollan, heading up Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project, and founding the Charlie Cart Project, a nonprofit that provides curricula and other resources for food education in schools. On top of that, she has two kids of her own. In short, she knows a lot about how to teach children about food and what’s good to eat.

New Favorites for New Cooks is suitable for kids of all ages and includes tasty recipes together with advice for choosing the best ingredients and the most valuable tips and tricks for using a knife. The Introduction contains excellent guidance like “Read the whole recipe before getting started,” “If a word or ingredient is unfamiliar, look it up,” and the all-important “Wash your hands.” Recipes are easily managed by young cooks and satisfy their appetites, likes, and dislikes, but also appeal to adult sensibilities.… Read More

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Bryant Terry

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh
African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed

by Bryant Terry
(Ten Speed Press, 2014).

The chef, food justice activist and author of Vegan Soul Kitchen and The Inspired Vegan reworks and remixes some favorite ingredients and classic dishes of the African Diaspora to present more than 100 delicious new recipes. Notes include Terry’s insights about building community around food, and suggest world music tracks and books to enhance the cooking and eating experience. Find recipes like Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, a recipe inspired by the Kenyan dish irio; Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad with dried apricots, carrots, and almonds, based on a Moroccan tagine; and Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts, combining the Ethiopian grain teff with stone-ground corn grits from the Deep South and North African zalook dip. Finish meals with desserts like a Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache.



Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn,
with Chile-Garlic Oil

Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photography © 2014 by Paige Green

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

SOUNDTRACK: “Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe” by Mbiri Young Stars from Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s

Smashed-Potatoes,-Peas-and-Corn,-with-Chile-Garlic-Oil2CHILE-GARLIC OIL
4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 large clove garlic, minced

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
12 small yellow potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)
2 ½ cups shelled green peas (about 2½ pounds fresh peas in the pod)
2 ¼ cups sweet corn kernels (from about 3 ears of corn)
¼ cup packed chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground white pepper

To make the chile oil, put the red pepper flakes in a small heatproof bowl.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Black Women, Food, and Publishing

Last December, chef and writer Tunde Wey published an essay in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Black Women Are the Future of the Food Industry.” The piece generated a lot of conversation and inspired the upcoming event, “Black Women, Food, and Publishing.” Oakland resident and vegan chef/ author Bryant Terry will moderate a panel including Tracye McQuirter, author of the just-published Ageless Vegan: The Secret to Living a Long and Healthy Plant-Based Life, chef and blogger Jenné Claiborne, author Jerrelle Guy (Black Girl Baking), and Rachel Bolden-Kramer (My Foodstamps Cookbook). Cost: $20 general admission; $15 MoAD members. Info and tickets: here

Black Women, Food, and Publishing
Saturday July 7, 2–5pm
Museum of African Diaspora Salon
685 Mission St, San Francisc0

Read Kristina Sepetys’ interview with Bryant Terry on food justice and inspired vegan cooking: here

Read Kristina’s review of his book Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed including Bryant’s recipe for Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn, with Chile-Garlic Oil: here


Ageless Vegan:
The Secret to Living a Long and Healthy Plant-Based Life

By Tracye McQuirter (author) and Mary McQuirter (contributor)
Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2018

Longtime vegan educator and public health nutritionist Tracye McQuirter teams up with her mother, Mary, to present 100 of their favorite whole food, plant-based recipes, together with advice for preparing nutritionally balanced meals.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

A Big Pig and a Small Press

In the world of book publishing, small presses provide a valuable alternative to large corporate publishing houses. With less overhead, small presses can introduce and take chances on new authors and publish smaller runs on books that may not, at least at first, have a large audience or generate a lot of revenue. Rather than focus on big bestsellers, they can publish shorter books that experiment with form and offer content that might be viewed risky by larger publishing houses. Edible East Bay has reviewed many books from small local presses like Parallax Press, Ulysses Press, and Counterpoint Press, in part because their focus on niche topics and individuals often lines up with the magazine’s focus on hyper-local, seasonal food and the people who
produce it.

Spring the Rescue Pig
By Leslie Crawford
(Stone Pier Press, 2018)
Sprig the Rescue Pig is the first book published by Stone Pier Press (SPP), a new San Francisco–based nonprofit small press focusing on environmental books and food systems. The press is partnered with Chelsea Green Publishing, a publisher in Vermont that will distribute books produced by SPP.
Sprig, intended for children ages 4 to 7, is the first in a series on farm animals.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Look Sharp

Sharp: The Definitive Guide to Knives, Knife Care, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs
By Josh Donald (with Molly Gore),
photography by Molly DeCoudreaux
Chronicle Books, 2018
Experienced cooks will tell you that good knives are fundamental to good cooking, and that’s certainly a message at Bernal Cutlery, a much-loved shop in San Francisco specializing in all things knife. Owner Josh Donald is now opening an Oakland outpost, and if that weren’t enough to excite East Bay cooks, he’s also just published a comprehensive guide to knives featuring 15 recipes from notable chefs. Sharp has been described as “a knife skills class in book form.” It highlights dishes enhanced by specific knife cuts and also provides an overview and history of some of the best knives from around the world, with advice on how to purchase, care for, and use them. I particularly enjoyed the book’s introduction as Donald (a native Los Angeleno) describes his childhood fascination with knives and how that passion took him around the world and into his retail business. Although the book will certainly have wide appeal, it’s a particularly valuable resource for locals who appreciate all that Bernal Cutlery and its specialists have to offer.… Read More

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