09 March 2019

Weekend Cooking: Reading, Eating, Organzing

Is it spring yet? It's still snowing around here, so despite what the calendar says, I'll be wearing sweaters for at least a month. On the other hand, I had my first asparagus of the season this week, and I'll soon break down and buy strawberries. Our local produce is 8-10 weeks away (unless you have a greenhouse).

Today's post is all about some food-related books I've been reading. Although I didn't cook anything new and exciting for dinner this week, we discovered a pretty yummy (and easy) cheese spread from Bon Appetit last month and made it again last weekend. I need to share that recipe with you. Finally, I'm doing some spring cleaning in my kitchen and have a cool resource to tell you about.

A few new cookbooks are winging (trucking?) their way to me as I type, so you can look for some reviews and new recipes coming up soon.

Food for Thought
  • reviews of 4 food books 2019Do you know anyone who isn't on some kind of diet? Calorie restricting, vegan, paleo, keto, FODMAP . . . it seems as if no one just eats anymore. This is one of the issues Caroline Dooner addresses in her The Fuck It Diet: Eating Should Be Easy (Harper Wave, March 26). Granted, some people have serious medical reasons for avoiding some kinds of foods, and Dooner fully recognizes this fact. Still, she believes the $60-billion-a-year dieting industry is mostly harming us. Her book is about having a better relationship with food, your weight, and your body image. Citing many peer-reviewed research articles, she questions the idea that skinny is always healthier and encourages people to just eat what they want and when they want. The idea is that once food is only food, you'll find your own set point and many (all?) of your food cravings will disappear. I'm not going to argue one way or another, but it made for an interesting read. Find more information on Dooner's website.
  • In a similar vein, Virginia Sole-Smith's The Eating Instinct (Abrams, Nov. 2018) asks why something so vital to life itself--food--has so much judgment associated with it. Why is it that some foods are good and other foods are bad? Her book begins and ends as memoir, particularly focusing on her elder daughter's medical issues that resulted in long bouts with a feeding tube before the girl was even a year old. For the bulk of the book, Sole-Smith, a professional journalist, reports on her investigation into other ways modern humans relate to food, often influenced by economics, food aversions, and body image. The title is a nod to the idea that we've seemed to have lost our natural eating instincts. I liked the personal stories and interviews and was happy to see Sole-Smith question why healthcare and diet experts think there is only one best body type. Find more information on Sole-Smith's website.
  • I'm about halfway through Boris Fishman's interesting memoir Savage Feast (Harper, Feb.), which is part food memoir and part modern-day immigration story. From Eastern Europe at the end of World War II to Brooklyn, New York, four decades later, three generations of his family shared food through hardships and bounty in several countries. I've been reading this book slowly because it fits my current mood to do so. If you or anyone in your family was born elsewhere, you'll have a lot to relate to here. Of course, one of the huge draws for me are the many recipes scattered throughout the book, which reflect the family's movements across Europe until the finally made it through immigration inspections to settle in the United States. I may have to try a few of those dishes and see how they compare to my own family's recipes.
  • I've been in the hold line for SkinnyTaste's One and Done (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 2018) for what feels like a thousand years. I know many of the recipes are available on the SkinnyTaste website, but I really  wanted to look through the book. My copy became available yesterday, and I plan to (digitally) flip through it over the weekend. I'm curious: do any of you have an air fryer? If so, do you use it? Is it worth the money? Right now, I'll concentrate on the recipes for the pressure cooker, slow cooker, and traditional stove/oven.
  • Thanks to the publishers for the first three books, and thanks to the library for the last one.
Yummy Recipe

In the February issue of Bon Appetit, we discovered a tasty and easy Cheddar cheese spread which we first served on Super Bowl Sunday with good success. Last weekend, my husband went to a friend's for a guys' night and made this again. He said everyone really liked it and it was a good for both before dinner and later while they played cards, pool, and darts.

This dip works well with vegetables, pitas, pretzels, crackers, and corn chips (like Bugles or Frito's). You can thank me, and Bon Appetit now.

The recipe can also be found on the magazine's website.

Spicy Cheese Spread
8 ounces cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more

Blend cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, paprika, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a food processor until smooth, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; season with more cayenne.

Do Ahead: Cheese spread can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Free Printables

Don't be jealous, but one of my weekend goals is to clean out and organize my freezers. I have no idea what's lurking in the dark recesses of the shelves! I think it's been about a year since I emptied them and took inventory of what's on hand. Over on the Fun Cheap or Free blog, I found some useful and pretty inventory checklists for the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. They're free to download, so check it out. While there, you might want to read through some of Jordan's advice for how to get organized.
Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.


rhapsodyinbooks 3/9/19, 6:10 AM  

Savage Feast is in my stack-to-read-next. I'm looking forward to it!

Mae Travels 3/9/19, 6:22 AM  

The food memoir by Fishman sounds great. And I applaud anyone like Dooner who calls out the crazy diet fad thing and above all hits the harpies who make money from people's insecurities about food -- sounds like another really good book. (Along that line, there's another great: Aaron Carroll's "The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully"). Have fun cleaning the freezer -- I avoid that by having no freezer at all except the tiny compartment at the bottom of my fridge.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

jama 3/9/19, 7:00 AM  

I was just starting to clean out my freezer so those tips are just what I need. That cheese spread sounds yummy; will have to try it. Thanks for highlighting those books -- the first one makes a LOT of sense!

Tina 3/9/19, 7:55 AM  

You can’t go wrong with Bon Appetit. The Fuck It cookbook reminds me of weight watchers. You can eat anything but be aware of moderation and use good choices.
The Eating Instinct made me think about some food issues my husband had. Do you know when we completely eliminated gluten from our diet he didn’t need to take Prilosec for heartburn? It took 14 days for it to completely leave his system but after a year he missed my bread so he’s back on prilosec.

I know the SkinnyTaste book you have. I found liquids of good recipes in there. We don’t have an air fryer, I us do the Dutch oven and sheet pan mostly from this book. Two of my coworkers have mentioned they have airfryers but the complaints I’ve heard is it doesn’t allow you to cook enough wings for a family of 4 and they have to do two rounds; one person loaded it with too much okra with breading and it came out as an okra log. Now I ant remember what the other woman said. Some folks like them. I don’t want one.
Sorry for the long comment 😉

bermudaonion 3/9/19, 8:00 AM  

I have a friend who is always on a diet - I swear she tries every fad diet that comes around. I'm going to take a look at the Dooner book and maybe giver her a copy.

Clarissa 3/9/19, 8:01 AM  

I’m making the cheese spread tonight! Thanks! You also reminded me that I have no earthly idea what is in my deep freezer. I was happier being ignorant. Now I have to deal with the guilt feelings. Sigh.

Kay 3/9/19, 8:35 AM  

I read THE EATING INSTICT this week and thought it was very thought-provoking. I didn't necessarily agree completely with all her thoughts, but I applaud her for sharing them. The interviews she did with various people were quite interesting and so was the memoir portion about her little daughter. So scary.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 3/9/19, 8:43 AM  

If we ate more slowly, and stuck to eating until we feel full, I think we can't go far wrong. I don't trust diets. I've seen too many people see-saw with weight.

Vicki 3/9/19, 8:43 AM  

My daughter has an air fryer and loves it!

JoAnn 3/9/19, 9:53 AM  

I've seen plenty of air fryer recipes that look good, but haven't been tempted to buy one...kitchen space is at a premium these days. When (if?) I make another purchase, an instant pot will be first. The cheese spread sounds good!

Jackie McGuinness 3/9/19, 10:15 AM  

Back home and looking forward to having some old favourites and trying some new recipes!!

Claudia 3/9/19, 10:21 AM  

I like the Weight Watcher motto that Tina quoted: "You can eat anything but be aware of moderation and use good choices". I too avoid fad diets, and whatever current hype. Though under "good choices" would be organically grown or raised, and without questionable additives. That cheese spread sounds good, something like the old Southern favorite Pimento Cheese.

Deb in Hawaii 3/9/19, 10:48 AM  

All of the books sound interesting. Savage Feast is on my list to read. I have two coworkers with air fryers who love them but seem to use them most for frozen foods like pizza rolls, fries and tater-tots, egg rolls and coconut shrimp and chicken wings so I don't think I personally would use it that much. That cheese dip looks really tasty too. ;-)

Les in Oregon 3/9/19, 11:52 AM  

You're the second blogger to mention The Eating Instinct and I'm intrigued. I also want to take a peek at the latest The Skinnytaste cookbook (I already own two) and see it it's worth buying. Maybe I should just focus on the two I already have since there are still dozens of recipes that I've marked that I want to try. No air-fryer here, but I am growing very fond of my Instant Pot! I think I'll try the cheese spread for my next mah jong afternoon. I looooove cheese!

Abigail Pearson 3/9/19, 2:55 PM  

yum, that cheese spread sounds so tasty! Definitely saving it for later. :)

Martha Eskuchen 3/10/19, 11:43 PM  

Looks like good eating reading... :-) I bet I would like the Spicy Cheese Spread.
I know our freezers have dark corners too. I'll check the printables. We have used them in the past particularly with the food stores in our Motor Coach where organizing for space is really important. Thanks for sharing the link.
Enjoy your reading.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/11/19, 12:13 PM  

I just printed those inventory checklists. I have a very narrow an deep pantry and never know what I have. Now I have an excuse to get organized before my next Costco/Target/Trader Joe's trip.

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