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Green Smoothies for Every Season by Kristine Miles (Ulysses Press; ISBN 9781612431727) The popularity of smoothies for breakfasts and snacks can't be denied, but so many of us are getting bored with the same old banana or blueberry drinks day after day. In Miles's lovely little book, you'll find a new smoothie for every week of the year, each one using seasonally fresh ingredients. The stars of the show are fruits and vegetables, which provide fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. The first part of the book consists of information about nutrition, blending, storage, and ingredients. The remaining chapters contain the recipes, arranged by season. Start 2015 off with a Mandarin Mania (clementine, pineapple, spinach) and work your way through the book by making a spring Pina Colada (with mesclun mix), a summer Berry Blast (with romaine), and a fall Detox Diva (with endive). Most of the ingredients are easy to find, although a few (borage) may not be readily available in your area and some (macadamia nuts) may be expensive. Regardless, smoothie lovers will find plenty of delicious new ideas for their daily drink.
Drink the Harvest by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest (Storey Publishing; ISBN: 9781612121598) The eye-catching photographs and design of this gem of a book will grab your attention, and the recipes and ideas for turning produce into beverages will inspire you to develop new kitchen skills. Chase and DeNeice provide everything you need to know about making and storing a variety of fresh drinks from vegetable juices and ciders to fruit syrups and herbal teas. There's even a chapter on wine, mead, and other adult beverages. Gardners, CSA members, and farmers market denizens will love learning new ways to preserve their summer bounty. I'm particularly interested in the Spiced Ginger-Bay Syrup, the Berry Juice, Luscious Limoncello, and Citrus Peel Tea. Cooks will appreciate that the authors don't leave them stranded; the book provides detailed information on harvesting, pressing fruit, canning, fermentation, and more. If you're lucky, the recipient of this beautiful cookbook will thank you with a bottle of homemade Mixed Berry Mead.
Homemade Condiments by Jessica Harlan (Ulysses Press; ISBN: 9781612432236) Here's a great cookbook that you can either buy for someone else or use to create your own homemade gifts fresh from the kitchen. Why make your own condiments? As anyone who has a food allergy or sensitivity will quickly tell you, commercially made sauces, dressings, and other condiments are a mine field of iffy ingredients. Why worry if that mustard or chutney has stray nuts or gluten? Make it yourself and be sure. Plus, most store-bought sauces have too much sugar, too much salt, and too many preservatives. Harlan has collected a nice variety of easy-to-follow recipes for all kinds of kitchen staples, such as barbecue sauces, ketchups, mustards, pickles, salsas, vinegars, salad dressings, dessert sauces, and chutneys. A great feature is the "Use It For" list that accompanies each recipe: Try drizzling the Maple Tarragon Vinaigrette over grilled peaches, and stirring the Grainy Porter Mustard into mac and cheese. The book, which also includes information on safely storing the products, will be a welcome addition to any kitchen.