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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Robin Sloan Reads from Sourdough
on October 12 in Berkeley

Berkeley-based author Robin Sloan is well known for his novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. On October 12, Sloan’s East Bay fans have a chance to hear him read from his new novel, Sourdough, at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley. Buy a copy to reserve your seat by calling the store at 510.704.8222. Info: here

Sloan grew up outside Detroit and first came to the Bay Area to work at Twitter, where he formed a lunchtime writing group that led to his first draft for Mr. Penumbra. But it was the Bay Area’s exciting artisanal food scene and a copy of San Francisco baker Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread that sparked his new novel. Sourdough is the fictional story of Lois Clary, a software engineer at a thriving San Francisco tech company, who inherits a sourdough starter and finds her way into an underground (literally) secret food society located at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Air Station. Named an Amazon Best Book of the Month for September 2017, Sloan’s delightful, compulsively readable book is similar to Mr. Penumbra in combining an old-fashioned pursuit—in this case, bread making—with the
world of high-tech.

We recently learned that Sloan and partner Kathryn Tomajan are producing extra-virgin olive oil in Alameda County under the label Fat Gold. Tomajan has worked on the milling end of olive oil production, and has won multiple international awards for her products with the Enzo Olive Oil Company in Clovis, California.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Eat Your Way to Good Health

 
I’ve read many books in which someone evangelizes about their experience sliding into a terrible health crisis and turning around all their problems by radically changing their diet to remove sugar, carbs, gluten, and any number of other products. Accordingly, I was a little ho-hum when I received yet another book about a chef who trashed his gut, nearly died, changed up his diet, exercised more, and restored his health. But I started reading and was hooked. After reading and hearing so many testimonials and eating fairly simply myself, I grow increasingly convinced that there’s something to the gospel of clean eating: that sugar really does behave like a toxic chemical in the body, and that for some people, reducing gluten and other offending ingredients can improve energy and mood, reduce inflammation, stimulate weight loss, improve digestion and elimination, strengthen resistance to colds and flu, and bring a host of other health benefits. Have you ever experimented with changing up your diet? Remove all allegedly offending substances for a few days or a week. See how you feel. Then begin slowly reintroducing foods. See if any changes make a difference. You might be surprised.… Read More

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Cheese: The Ultimate Companion to Beer

Review by Kristina Sepetys
 
Cheese & Beer
By Janet Fletcher
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017)
 
The same hearty, flavorful qualities that make beer and cheese a popular combination can also make for challenges when pairing the two. Janet Fletcher is the publisher of the Planet Cheese blog, former San Francisco Chronicle columnist, and author of more than 25 books on food and wine. Her Cheese & Beer, first published in 2013 and now coming out in paperback, is a guide to two-dozen popular craft beers and their best cheese partners. As with most food pairings, according to Fletcher, “Success largely rides on contrasts and complements.” These may be found in texture, intensity, sweetness, bitterness, aroma, and other characteristics. For example, Fletcher suggests combining hoppy beers with tangy cheeses and malty beers with nutty or sweet cheeses. Organized by 23 beer styles (Pale Ales, Belgians, Quadrupels, Sour Ales, Wheat Ales, among many others), each chapter recommends craft beers and breweries and describes the types of cheese—dozens and dozens of different types and makers—that pair well with the beer. Fans of beer and cheese will be delighted by the extensive list of suggested cheese and beer combinations to try.

The new paperback of Cheese & Beer comes out next week, so check with your favorite local independent bookseller.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

The Endlessly Versatile Sweet Potato

Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie
By Mary-Frances Heck
(Clarkson Potter, 2017)
 
Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many cultures for good reason: They’re loaded with vitamin A as well as a good amount of vitamins B, C, and fiber. And they’re lower on the glycemic index (meaning less blood sugar increase) than white potatoes. The leaves and stems are edible and high in vitamin K. Cooked in any number of different ways, they can be used in dishes from mains to desserts.
 
In her new cookbook, Mary-Frances Heck offers 60 recipes for preparing sweet potatoes. Among the delights, you’ll find dishes like Sweet Potato-Apple Butter Crostini with Speck; Cracked Sweet Potatoes with Chilies and Coconut; Celeriac, Sweet Potato, and Scallop Chowder; Sweet Potato Chocolate Babka; and Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pudding Pie. Attractive photographs, extensive headnotes, and informational chapters provide additional helpful detail.

Meet author Mary-Frances Heck at Omnivore Books
 
Thursday September 21, 6:30–7:30pm 
Mary-Frances Heck: Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie
Omnivore Books on Food 
3885a Cesar Chavez St, San Francisco
 
Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers.Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

On the Road through the Sierra Nevada

  

Touring the Sierra Nevada
by Cheryl Angelina Koehler
(University of Nevada Press, 2007)
 
It’s been out for a decade, but it’s still my favorite guidebook to the Sierra Nevada, that iconic mountain range rising to the east of San Francisco. By Cheryl Angelina Koehler, editor/publisher of Edible East Bay, this book introduces readers and travelers to the entire Sierra Nevada, longest continuous mountain range in the United States and one of the most scenic, biologically diverse, and historically rich ranges in North America. Most of us know the well-traveled nodes like Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Bishop, and Yosemite, which are indeed lovely places worth a visit. But in between, along the way, and often overlooked are picturesque mining towns, scenic alpine lakes, lush vineyards, and notable landmarks, many of which are rich in significant California history or striking natural features. If you’re traveling through the region, the book, illustrated with photographs and maps, is a perfect place to start for an introduction to each area you plan to visit. In addition to detailed descriptions, interesting facts and anecdotes, and historical detail, you’ll find practical advice about contacting parks, museums, historical sites, visitors’ bureaus, U.S.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf  

Fighting for Real Cheese

Reinventing the Wheel:
Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese

by Bronwen Percival and Francis Percival
(University of California Press, 2017 )
 
Cheesemaking was once a simple, earnest craft. Farmers, homemakers, food crafters, and others used fresh milk from healthy, pasture-grazed animals to make flavorful cheeses without chemicals or additives. Those practices have been changed dramatically by industrial production, as Bronwen Percival, a British cheese writer and professional cheese buyer, and Francis Percival, a food journalist, describe in this well-researched and detailed book. The authors explain how cheese was formerly “the product of its own indigenous microbial cultures, local breeds, and specialized knowledge,” but in recent times has largely become a product of industrial monoculture. They also explore how cheesemakers in France, the United States, and Australia are rediscovering the techniques of older generations and what makes a “good” cheese.
 
Join the authors for an educational evening with plenty of cheese to taste. Books will be available for purchase at 15% off cover price. Cost: $35. Tickets and info: here
 
Reinventing the Wheel; Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese
Tuesday September 5, 7:45pm
The Cheese Board Collective
1504 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
 
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  

Equal Opportunity Cooking and Eating

I learned to cook my first dish—an egg fried in butter—when I was in second or third grade. Decades later, I still remember the satisfaction of that newfound independence. I’d heat the stove, cut a hunk of butter and drop it onto the small frying pan, watch it sizzle and melt, and then crack the egg into the pan. I’d watch it cook up into something warm and tasty, and when it was finished, I’d slide it onto a plate and feed myself. We all need to eat to survive, but food preparation can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. Two books (one old, another new) make meal preparation accessible to people with disabilities or developmental challenges and also explore the rewards that come from cooking with others.

 

Special Day Cooking, A Life Skills Cookbook 
By Beverly Worth Palomba (Special Day Publishing, 2013)
 
This excellent book grew out of Palomba’s long tenure developing and teaching a life-skills curriculum at San Ramon High School for people with developmental challenges making the transition into independent living. It will appeal to people with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, ADD, and other disabilities, as well as young people who simply want to learn to cook on their own.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Crumbly, Baked Goodness

When doesn’t a baked, bread-y offering—sweet or savory—seem appealing? We’re all spoiled by those really well-made and tasty items found at coffee and tea houses around town. Some shops bake their own, but many get them from local artisan bakers like Berkeley-based Third Culture Bakery, where the creative Taiwanese and Indonesian duo of Wenter Shyu and Sam Butarbutar turn out taste-bud magic in the form of Asian-fusion confections. Treat yourself to their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Scones made with coconut milk and topped with Jacobsen Salt flakes, or chewy-on-the-outside Custard Cakes, or their beloved gluten-free Mochi Muffins topped with black and white sesame seeds. Find these treats at East Bay spots like Blue Willow Teaspot (a wonderful tea house where I first discovered Third Culture confections), or Boba Guys, Alchemy Coffee, Catahoula Coffee and Kaffeegarten, Open Café, 1888 Coffee, Highwire Coffee, Asha Tea House, 1951 Coffee, and Bartavelle Coffee.

If you’d rather keep your crumbs on your counter at home, check out this new cookbook on baking (and using every last morsel of bread)!
 
Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves and Meals to Savor Every Slice
by Alexandra Stafford
(Clarkson Potter, 2017)

Alexandra Stafford, who pens the Alexandra’s Kitchen blog and writes for Food52, had a much-loved and closely held peasant bread recipe from her childhood.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

 
Herbs have been used for cooking and healing for centuries. They’re one of the easiest things to grow in a garden and use to flavor foods.
 

Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen:
Delicious, Nourishing Food for
Lifelong Health and Well-Being

by Brittany Wood Nickerson
(Storey, 2017)
 
Herbalist Brittany Wood Nickerson subscribes to the increasingly popular notion that food can be powerful medicine. Her book provides extensive background on the nourishing power of herbs, weaving in information from Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and other systems, including helpful tips like how to deliver medicinal doses of herbs in cooking (pesto is a particularly good vehicle). Common household herbs and spices—like basil, black pepper, cilantro, and parsley—support digestion, metabolism, immune function, circulation, and the nervous system. Nickerson offers fascinating insights into the healing properties of culinary herbs with in-depth profiles of popular items like dill, sage, and mint, and she shares 110 original recipes for snacks, entrées, drinks, and desserts specially designed to provide comfort, nourishment, energy, and support. Try recipes like Baked Eggs with Parsley Pesto; Mint and Feta Bruschetta with Chive Blossoms (unwashed to preserve their soft leaves, fragrant oils, and pollen dust); Cannellini Beans and Potatoes with Dandelion Greens and Parsley; Roasted Eggplant with Chickpeas, Spicy Peppers, and Mint Oil; and Hazelnut Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Honey.… Read More

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I-Scream

Kristina’s Bookshelf

Sweet, Cold Cream

Inventive flavors like Honey Lavender (top), Thai Iced Tea (bottom), and Mexican Chocolate (in the background) are plentiful at I-Scream on Solano Avenue.

 Local favorite I-Scream on Upper Solano in Berkeley scoops flavors that taste like the farm-fresh ingredients they’re made from. Popular flavors include creamy, buttery rich Salted Caramel (or even better, the Burnt Caramel, when it’s available). Daily offerings change and might include Strawberry (always made with ripe berries), Honey Lavender, or Wild Blueberry. My all-time favorite is Mexican Chocolate, which features a load of spices, including cinnamon and a hit of chili pepper. Order a split scoop if you can’t decide which you’d like.
 
For a different kind of ice cream goodness, head down to the lower part of Solano in Albany to Mr. Dewie’s, a cheery ice cream parlor with red tables and chairs out front. A second shop is now open at the Public Market in Emeryville, in a shipping container inside the market. Shop owners and brothers Ari and Andrew Cohen, a friendly and outgoing pair, grew up in North Berkeley. They were regular customers of both McCallum’s and Ortman’s, two local ice cream purveyors some readers might remember. In an email, Ari reminisced, “We used to play at Thousand Oaks school and go to Ortman’s for slushies.… Read More

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