Archive | Bookshelf

Hungry for Satisfaction

by Kimber Simpkins

I wrote my memoir out of a desperate desire to stop feeling empty all the time. I knew I had no good reason to be hungry, but that didn’t stop my belly from wanting more. I’d finish every bite of steamed greens, rice, and roasted vegetables—and even a bowl of hearty miso soup—so why did I feel like ordering a second round? The food was fresh and nourishing, arranged to please my eyes and taste buds. Why didn’t I feel satisfied?

I was friends with the Full Belly farmers at the market where I bought my lettuce and tomatoes. I’d even slept in the walnut orchard, listening to the coyotes talk to each other across the valley. Eating some of the most delicious, most thoughtfully tended produce on the planet, it was clear my lack of satiety was not the fault of the vegetables that filled my weekly CSA box.


Author Kimber Simpkins

Somehow I had missed out on the idea that pleasure needs to be invited to the table. The heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil piled high on the market tables deserved my full appreciation—in fact, they demanded it. I could pile the tomatoes, basil, goat cheese, and olive oil on the bread and do the same old thing of tuning into the distractions of my mind while my mouth automatically chewed and swallowed, while my inner critic honed its objections to all the fat and carbs.… Read More

Continue Reading

Fabulous Ferments and Delicious Dried Foods!

By Kristina Sepetys

People have been drying and fermenting foods for flavor, storage, and good health since time immemorial. Food preservation techniques offer inexpensive, easily managed ways to avoid letting food go to waste. Find yourself with more greens or fruits than you can use this week? Put ’em up! Sandor Ellix Katz’s The Art of Preservation and Phyllis Hobson’s Making and Using Dried Foods are two seminal how-to books on the subject, but here are some new books that make excellent companions to your dog-eared copies of those classics. You’ll find recipes, tips for success, and updated resource lists.

The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods: Preserve Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, and Meat with a Dehydrator, a Kitchen Oven, or the Sun
by Teresa Marrone
(Storey, 2014)

Make your own nonperishable pantry, lunchbox, and backpack staples, and avoid the sulfites typically found in dried foods that can provoke migraines. Food writer Teresa Marrone is author of many field guides and cookbooks. She’s also an avid camper, which helped hone her dehydration skills. Her comprehensive guide is chock full of useful instructions for dehydrating just about every kind of fruit and vegetable using your own oven (preferably convection), a dehydrator, or the sun.… Read More

Continue Reading

Good Food, Great Business

Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace
by Susie Wyshak
(Chronicle Books, 2014)

Review by Kristina Sepetys

Susie Wyshak

Oakland Author and Food Strategist, Susie Wyshak
Photo Courtesy of Chronicle Books

Home cooks are often told their homemade sweet or savory specialty item is so amazingly delicious they should consider selling it. For those who let their imaginations travel down that path, the initial prospect may seem exciting. But the scene can quickly turn daunting when faced with the reality of sorting out the particulars. Where do I start? How do I raise money? Price products? The devil is in the details, and those details can seem overwhelming and quickly lead would-be entrepreneurs to give up their vision and stick to cooking for friends and family.

Enter Susie Wyshak, a business strategist in Oakland, California, who spent many years working in the artisanal food industry. She’s also a connector who likes to help fledgling entrepreneurs and businesses. Realizing her background and experience gave her a unique perspective on how to help food makers navigate the path to taking a food product to market, Wyshak wrote a relevant and informative how-to book explaining the startup process for food crafters, featuring expert advice and dozens of case studies (many of them local East Bay businesses).… Read More

Continue Reading

Drink Up! Books that take you way beyond soda


Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

drink the harvestDrink the Harvest
by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest
(Storey Publishing, 2014)

Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be concocted into delicious beverages that are healthier and more economical than their store-bought counterparts. Drink the Harvest shows you how to create juices, ciders, wines, meads, teas, and syrups to drink now or put up for later in the year. From strawberry juice to pear cider, dandelion wine to spiced apple mead, citrus peel tea to kombucha, the book offers instruction for growing a beverage garden and harvesting ingredients for maximum flavor and quantity.

by Michael Dietsch
(Countryman Press, 2014)

Shrubs, Victorian-era drinks which rely upon vinegars for their tart edge, are enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The history of shrubs, described in this new book, is as fascinating as the drinks are refreshing. These sharp and tangy infusions are simple to make and use. Mix up some Red Currant Shrub for a Vermouth Cassis, or Apple Cinnamon Shrub to mix with seltzer, or develop your own with Michael Dietsch’s directions and step-by-step photographs.

JuiceJuice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing, and Living Well
by Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores, Hayden Slater
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)

The founders of Los Angeles-based Pressed Juicery explain how juicing and juice cleansing can be part of a fit and healthy lifestyle.… Read More

Continue Reading

New Cookery Titles

By Kristina Sepetys

These new cookbooks are full of comforting, seasonal treats. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between, you’ll find sweet, savory, and creative ideas to inspire your meal-making!


Brown Sugar KitchenBrown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home
Recipes from Sweet West Oakland
by Tanya Holland with Jan Newberry
(Chronicle Books, 2014)

If you don’t already know her, it’s time to meet Tanya Holland, chef and co-owner (with her waffle-wrangler husband Phil Surkis) of Oakland’s beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen. Holland describes the Mandela Parkway spot as “a soul-food restaurant on an isolated corner in West Oakland.” But geographic isolation is offset by the enthusiastic crowds of regulars who gather there for good company and Louisiana-style comfort foods like chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, barbeque shrimp and grits, Andouille gougères, pulled pork sandwiches, and oyster po’boys. With her cookbook, you can try 86 of Holland’s signature dishes at home and read about the regulars who frequent the Kitchen.



Will It WaffleWill it Waffle? 53 Irresistible and Unexpected
Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron
by Daniel Shumski
(Workman, 2014)

Anyone who has a waffle iron squirreled away in a kitchen cupboard (most of us?) will be intrigued by this book that offers dozens of recipes to make use of the appliance.… Read More

Continue Reading

Pack ‘Em Up!

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Raise your hand: Who out there loves cooking, but preparing and packing school lunches…not so much? Maybe I’m in the minority, but the day-in, day-out effort of finding something nourishing that can be quickly prepared in the busy morning hours to entice a child’s palate can be a challenge. Leftovers are always good. But best of all is finding recipes for appealing, accessible, and healthy items that will tempt kids to explore their culinary likes and dislikes, experiment in the kitchen, and create their own meals. I’m a big believer in the old adage, “Give a kid a fish and feed her for a day. Teach her to fish and feed her for a lifetime.”


The Best Homemade LunchesThe Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet:
Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas
by Laura Fuentes
(Fair Winds Press, 2014)

With seven chapters, recipes to suit every age, and sections to record likes and dislikes, Fuentes presents nearly a full school year’s worth of simple, healthful recipes for lunches and breakfasts. Recipes include entire lunch meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. The author, founder of the healthy school lunch site,, shares recipes like Smashed Chickpea Sandwich, Baked Raviolis, and Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars.… Read More

Continue Reading

Delicious Dinner Inspiration!


Review by Kristina Sepetys

Yummy SupperYummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious, & Honest Recipes
from a [Gluten-Free] Omnivore
by Erin Scott
(Rodale, 2014)
Following from Scott’s award-winning blog of the same name, her new cookbook has the same clean, visual aesthetic and family-friendly recipes that emphasize naturally gluten-free ingredients to create easy, tasty meals. Scott likes to experiment and cook with greens, herbs, and citrus harvested from her backyard garden. Sample her fresh, seasonal recipes like Watermelon Punch with Fresh Lime and Mint, Poached Eggs with Lemony Spinach & Crispy Hash Browns, Parmesan Polenta with Garlicky Rapini and Black Olives, and Peanut Butter Cups with Dark Chocolate and Flaky Sea Salt.

Read More
Continue Reading

Summer Grilling: It’s all Fun and Flames!


Reviews by Kristina Sepetys


People have been cooking with fire for thousands of years. Wood fires suggest comfort, fellowship, and celebration, and many chefs think they’re the best way to coax flavor out of foods. Whether you’re planning to grill up some goodness at a campsite, in your fireplace, over the grill on your deck, or in a cob oven, you’ll find lots of inspiration in these titles.



Cooking with FireCooking with Fire: From Roasting on a Spit to Baking in a Tannur, Rediscovered Techniques and Recipes that Capture the Flavors of Wood-Fired Cooking
by Paula Marcoux
(Storey, 2014)

Marcoux, a food historian and wood-fired cooking enthusiast, shares 100 recipes for preparing all manner of dishes, from meat and fish to breads and beverages. She begins with simple techniques, like cooking with live fire and food on a stick, and progresses to spits, skewers, grills, planks, pots, pans, griddles, and other more elaborate structures that harness heat and maximize flavor.



The Great OutdoorsSunset’s The Great Outdoors Cookbook:
Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky

by the editors of Sunset Magazine
(Oxmoor House, 2014)

More than 200 step-by-step, well-illustrated recipes and instructions for out-of-doors cooking adventures, including foods for the backpack, plants to forage, and techniques for using campfires, grills, smokers, Dutch and solar ovens, camp stoves, cauldrons, fire pits, and outdoor and pizza ovens.… Read More

Continue Reading

It’s climate change, stupid.


Reviews by Kristina Sepetys


Three new books use different lenses to examine climate change in the food and farming world. A fourth on summer grilling provides a recipe from a chef-author who lives the sustainability principles, working to restore our relationship with the ocean, the land, and community.


LocalLocal: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
by Douglas Gayeton
(Harper Design, June 2014)

Petaluma-based Gayeton, artist and co-director of the Lexicon of Sustainability project, examines local food movements and the way they can address climate change. Gayeton asked hundreds of thought leaders in sustainable food and farming like Alice Waters, Temple Grandin, Barton Seaver, Vandana Shiva, and Joel Salatin, along with farmers, fishermen, and dairy producers to give him one word to define the essence of their work. Their answers, more than 200 food and agriculture terms like “food miles,” “direct trade,” and “grassfed,” comprise this very readable, well-photographed dictionary of food literacy. Says Gayeton, “If people know what terms mean, if they can see complex principles rendered simply, in ways that apply to their own lives, if they can visualize not only a complex idea but its solution, then a transformative conversation about climate change will follow.”


Sustainable (R)evolutionSustainable [R]evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox
(North Atlantic Books, 2014)

Anthropologist Juliana Birnbaum and filmmaker Louis Fox examine permaculture activism to document the growing international sustainability movement.… Read More

Continue Reading

Make Your Own Ice Creams and Desserts Using the East Bay’s Bountiful Summer Harvest! 


Review by Kristina Sepetys


Jenis Splendid Ice CreamJeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts
by Jeni Britton Bauer
(Artisan, 2014)

I’ve just returned from Nashville, and one of the many wonderful things I enjoyed was ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid. Author and proprietress Jeni Britton Bauer spins flavors like Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Wildberry Lavender, and Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts from whole, seasonal fruits, herbs, and nuts. Bauer began making ice cream in 1996 and now has shops throughout the Midwest and a thriving mail-order business. You can find her cold treats locally at the Pasta Shop, Andronico’s, Berkeley Bowl, and Safeway. Or grab one of her books and concoct her sweet treats yourself. Her latest, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts, follows her James Beard Award-winning Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home and includes flavors like Chamomile Chardonnay and Sweet Basil with Honeyed Pine Nuts, as well as cakes, tarts, biscuits, and other toothsome treats to pair with her ice creams. Try sundae combinations with sauces like Whiskey Caramel or Honey Spiked with Chilies. Her signature crunchy “gravels” (crumbly sundae toppings), like Salty Graham Gravel, are a wonderful finishing touch. And in case ice-cream making seems too ambitious, store-bought ice cream can be used for all the desserts in the book.… Read More

Continue Reading