Saturday, May 31, 2014

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage [book review]

I read most of our Kitchen Reader books on my Kindle. When I finish, I write my reviews by looking back over my highlights--usually about twenty passages that struck me while reading. I mark them so I can remember them later. While reading A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage I highlighted 78 passages! (And I still have two chapters out of twelve left to read!) This is a hugely informative book that I found fascinating. The main idea is that world history can be charted with the history of the six drinks that have been consumed by humans the most: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.

In some cases, the history of these six drinks is a reflection of what was going on in human history in different periods. But in other ways, I have come to learn, history was made by these drinks. Many more world events than I realised were tied up with these six beverages.

I feel a little unequal to the task of summarising what I have read, thanks to those 78 highlights. So let me just try to say one or two things about each drink.

Beer, first consumed by ancient Middle Eastern peoples, made water safe to drink and also was a way of preserving grain. It rose to popularity with organised agriculture.

Wine was made by ancient Greeks and Italians and it played a key role in their rational ideas of civilised society and learning.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekend Links #36

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every month. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--Saveur's Best Food Blogs Awards highlight some incredible blogs. There are plenty of new-to-me reads here as well as many old favourites.

recipe links:
--How ingenious is this? A porridge recipe that has a blended egg whisked in during cooking. That sounds like a great way to add protein to your breakfast (from Natural Kitchen Adventures).
--I like the idea of a corn and parmesan cheese creme brûlée (from Tasty Kitchen).
--You can make your own electrolyte energy cubes for endurance sports like long distance running (from Healthful Pursuit).
--My friend at work made fermented ginger ale (from Wellness Mama). I want to make some too. I also really want to buy some nice flip-top bottles; hee hee!
--Also on my list of fermented foods to make: easy peasy probiotic pickles (from Sarah Ramsden).
--And finally, I should go back to making yogurt at home (pictured above).

books I'm reading:
--Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink
--A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Baba Ghanoush

The Joy of Cooking taught me a lot about food; I have the 1953 version. But one piece of advice The Joy of Cooking gave no longer applies--there is no need to salt eggplants (aubergines) before cooking. New varieties of eggplant are much less bitter than in our grandmothers' days.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pastrami Wraps with Cherry Tomato Salsa

This is a simple dinner or appetizer. I used soft but crunchy butterhead lettuce for the wraps, but you could use pitta bread or flatbread. The pastrami and cherry tomato salsa would also make an intriguing sandwich filling.

But I encourage you to try these pastrami wraps without the bread. I feel passionately about helping people eat more vegetables. This is the perfect time to try it! Since you're going to eat with your hands anyway, get in there and make some lettuce wraps. If your lettuce leaves are pretty small like mine, you will end up making about twice as many lettuce wraps as you would with bigger bread wraps.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin [book review]

This month's Kitchen Reader book is From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin (chosen by Pech of Pechluck’s Food Adventures). First, a confession: I have barely ever watched the Food Network. But that didn't stop me from reading about it and reporting back to you!

The book is a lengthy chronicle of the Food Network from before its birth until 2013. It's fascinating to read about the interplay of characters who shaped what it was and is. Even for me, with little background knowledge, the book was written in a way that allowed me to understand and enjoy the ups and downs.

I've decided to take a different format for this review. I'm going to share some quotations from the book and tell you what they made me think. I found that since I don't know much about the Food Network, I was always reading with a focus on how people reacted to food media as a whole. I found that a lot of the comments could be connected to food blogging (and food writing, magazines, and food entertainment as a whole). All my thoughts revolve around the question: What makes a good food-related story or TV idea?


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