Essential Pepin

Are you confused about what to eat? Many people are. One person who is not confused is Jacques Pepin. As you can see from the title of his newest cookbook, Essential Pepin: 700 Favorites from My Life in Food, there are a lot of things he likes to eat, and he hopes you will too, and there is no fear in him. Sugar, chocolate, gluten, grains, red meat, salt, butter, wine, fruit, shellfish: bring it all on! He cooks like he learned to growing up in France, at his family’s restaurant. His exuberance about cooking and his pure enjoyment of food is refreshingly captured in the companion dvd series of the same name.

Watching Jacques cook is pure fun. Though he has lived in the US for ages, and speaks perfect English, he is so French. And he is an expert. With knives flashing (sharp ones at that), and one dish in the oven and two on the stove, he is masterful in the kitchen. Food obeys him. Sauces hold together and omelets flip and onions practically chop themselves. (How does he do that? I have a feeling taking notes doesn't help.) He is always sipping the ubiquitous glass of wine, a la Julia, and carrying on an amusing narrative while he creates his numerous, delectable dishes. He exhorts all cooks, all fear aside, to have a love affair with good food. His motto: “Happy cooking!”.

January is Hot Tea Month

Is there anything better than a cup of hot tea on a cold, snowy day? (Besides hot chocolate, that is!) January is Hot Tea Month, so celebrate by brewing up a pot and reading about this perennial favorite drink.

Culinary Tea: More than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World
Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West
The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide
Tea Chings: The Tea and Herb Companion

If you're looking for something fun for your little ones to do during vacation or on snow days, how about throwing a tea party? Check out Fancy Nancy Tea Parties or Come to Tea! for tips, games, and menus, and if you feel inspired, throw a tea party for yourself with Victoria, the Essential Tea Companion!

Rockin' for the Hungry 2012

Volunteers and radio personalities from annarbor's 107one will be "freezin' for a reason" at the Food Gatherers' largest annual outdoor food and fund drive through December 9th. Broadcast live from Kroger on South Maple Road, you can participate by dropping off food or cash donations, purchasing food to donate, or by making a donation at the register of any Washtenaw County Kroger store location.

Your Guide to Buying Local This Holiday Season

Where will you shop for holiday gifts this year? It’s buy local week! In the recent years, local businesses in Michigan cities including Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have been participating in several “buy local” themed holiday sales in order to take some of the spotlight off of the big box stores. This growing trend to “buy local Michigan” is a great way to support our state’s economy. If you’re looking for gift ideas that will support southeast Michigan, or just the state in general, here are some ideas:

-Farmer’s Markets are on the rise! According to a study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Michigan has been leading the country in the percentage growth of farmers markets over the last two years and also “ranks fourth among the states in the number of farmers markets.” There are several local farmer’s markets that are open year-round, such as The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market and The Detroit Eastern Market. Pick up a locally made loaf of banana bread for a stocking stuffer. Or, for the more adventurous, cook your own gifts to give from the fresh foods found at the markets. The AADL’s catalog has several local-themed cookbooks for you to draw ideas from.

-Michigan is famous for its vineyards and wineries. Take a friend or loved one who enjoys wine on a tour of Michigan wineries by following this guide. Or pick up a bottle from a local winery.

-Speaking of local drinks, Michigan is also well-known for its local breweries. Ann Arbor Brewing Company, Bell’s, and Arcadia are among some of the most popular Michigan breweries holding holiday sales this year.

-Within the last few years, there have been several “Michigan” themed retail stores popping up that stock Michigan-made products. Among these include The Michigan General Store in Ypsilanti, The Dixboro General Store, The Produce Station in Ann Arbor, and the website “The Mitten State” which sells vintage-inspired Michigan themed t-shirts and other Michigan-themed gifts. Buying gifts from Michigan retail stores is a great way to support your local and state economy.

-Over the next few weeks, Friday, December 7th, Friday December 14th, and Friday December 21st, Main Street in Downtown Ann Arbor will be hosting “Festive Fridays” which include live street entertainment and extended hours for Main Street retailers! This is a great opportunity to enjoy and support your local economy.

-Connect with local crafters and support them at DIYpsi, coming up December 8th & 9th in Ypsilanti. Other local DIY craft events and holiday bazaars coming up include Tiny Expo in Ann Arbor on December 8th, the 7th Annual Holiday Baar Bazaar in Detroit on the 14th, The Detroit Mercantile Merry Market on the 15th & 16th, and The Detroit Annual Food Bazaar on December 10th.

-If you’re into crafting yourself, check out some of the craft programs coming up at the AADL to make your very own gifts to give!

-Do you have an avid reader to please this holiday season? Check out the AADL’s Friend’s of the Library Book Shop, located on the basement level of the Downtown branch. The shop’s holiday hours this season are: Saturdays, 10-4 and Sundays, 1-4 through December 16th, 2012. Then closed until January 5th and 6th, 2013. The shop includes a wide variety of gently-used books, CDs, DVDs, sheet music, and jigsaw puzzels.

Happy local holiday shopping!

JAMIE'S 30-MINUTE MEALS

I love to cook. However, one of my biggest obstacles is combining foods that compliment each other. My dinner table often looks like potluck out of the United Nations or a potato growers convention (I have been know to serve tacos, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes in the same meal!) I was delighted when I ran across Jamie's 30 Minute Meals. The goal of this book is to show how to cook a whole meal in a short amount of time. The key to being able to successfully use this book is to have a well equipped kitchen as many of his recipes call for the use of a food processor and a blender. Fortunately, I have both and was able to whip up a few of his delicious and simple recipes. Admittedly, I wasn't able to cook my meals in 30 minutes or less, but that wasn't really my goal. Most of the meal plans are basic and don’t require expensive or hard to get ingredients. Best of all, the foods compliment each other nicely to create a whole meal from main course to dessert. One of my favorite meal plans is the tomato soup and guacamole platter. Yum!

It was the Night Before Thanksgiving

It was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was intent on a search, for a free Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ypsilanti Free Methodist Church. The flyer tacked to the telephone pole did assert "Come enjoy turkey and the the fixings, including pie for dessert! At 1800 Packard Rd., 4:30-6:30 pm, across from Ypsilanti High athletic fields, the feast will commence. So if you are planning to join us Nov. 21 on Wednesday, call 734-482-2055 to reserve a seat for the number attending. Happy Holidays!

Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto

Imagine taking a cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu-Paris. What might you learn ? You would, undoubtedly, become familiar with the foundational cooking techniques which are universal to all cuisines and begin to master the use of basic ingredients which are common to many recipes. So, while you can’t necessarily skip over the ocean on a whim to improve your cooking and baking abilities, you can check out Ruhlman’s Twenty and read the book that will make you a better cook, by introducing you to these very things.

Michael Ruhlman has distilled all the possibilities of cooking techniques to the twenty he deemed the most fundamental. Number one technique: think. “Thinking in the kitchen is underrated”, he instructs. ”Before you begin. Stand still. Think.” Another technique: braise, which he calls, “a kind of emblem of the true cook”. Also: sauce. "Sauce completes a dish, adding succulence, seasoning and color...that's how you turn something good into something fantastic". And: soup. "If you've got chicken stock, you've got a meal". His instructions for all these various procedures are clear, concise and de-mystifying and, in addition, beautifully illustrated and demonstrated with pertinent recipes.

Releasing the untapped potential of key ingredients qualifies as technique as well, and he orients you to the best and most essential: onion, salt, egg, butter. “Butter. Give me butter. Always butter!” (Look here to see who said that.) Ruhlman is opinionated (do not use iodized salt; making bacon is easy; the egg is divine) and almost religiously devoted to the experience of preparing and presenting good food. The recipes he includes could be the essential canon of eating; you could own this ‘cookbook’ and never need another.

Health Benefits Of Indian Spices With Veronica "Rani" Sidhu, Author Of "Menus And Memories From Punjab Meals To Nourish Body And Soul"

Monday September 10, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Spices and herbs are nature's pharmacy and this timely topic will be discussed by Veronica "Rani" Sidhu, author of "Menus and Memories From Punjab: Meals To Nourish Body And Soul." Rani learned to cook North Indian dishes using an array of fragrant spices and herbs. Punjab is the "melting pot" of South Asia.

Colorful photos will enliven the discussion of spices and food of this fascinating region whose culture goes back 5,000 years. Attendees also will be able to taste a famous Punjabi dessert, Sevian (Toasted Vermicelli Pudding) - a recipe from her cookbook! This event also features a book signing and books will be for sale.

Time For A Cool Down

Back to school ads may already be in the papers, but it’s still summer!! And it’s still plenty warm. In the thick of summer, what’s better than an ice cream treat? Or how about a homemade ice cream treat? Even Better.

There are several books with a plethora of recipes to get your mouth watering. If you’re in the mood for homemade frozen treats such as ice cream, popsicles, shaved ice, sherbet, gelato, granitas, ice cream cones, merengue nests, mousse, or perhaps ice cream cake, check out The Ultimate Frozen Dessert Book or The Ultimate Ice Cream Book. Not all the recipes call for an ice cream maker! For even more books with frozen treat recipes, see this great list of more AALD-owned titles. Happy making!

Coney Detroit

It’s summer and things are hot and busy. Time to grab a dog, a Coke, and head to the beach. Perhaps a coney dog has your number, and if so, you aren’t alone. Apparently no one in the world is as crazy about coney dogs as metro Detroit is. Have you ever thought about the sheer amount Coney Island restaurants? Ever thought about the technique of what constitutes a great coney dog, or perhaps a coney pizza, coney omelette, or coney wrap?

The book Coney Detroit talks about the lore, the history, and the business of all things coney. It focuses on some establishments in Flint, Jackson, Port Huron, Kalamazoo, and Traverse City. It’s a fun little book, chock full of photos, for those interested in all things local.

The book is a collaboration of twenty, and was written by Katherine Yung (Detroit Free Press reporter) and Joe Grimm. It was photographed by EXPOSURE.Detroit and printed in Detroit. Interestingly, all proceeds from the book go to the Gleaners Community Food Bank.

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