My Cookbook Problem and How Deborah Madison Encourages My Habit

In case you haven’t noticed, I love food. Even more than eating food, I like cooking food. Therefore, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I have a cookbook problem. My “cookbook drawer” now requires an additional little push to close, and the desk in the living room now had a dedicated shelf for some of my most recent acquisitions. I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any more, but sometimes, a book just catches your eye.

I’m especially a fan of cookbooks that provide an introduction, or tell a story on why the author wrote the book, which is probably why I’m a sucker for Deborah Madison’s publications. I’ve been meaning to write about Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts, but I was hoping I’d include a recipe I had tested out. However, the weather in California has been so bizarre, and the farmers market just hasn’t seen the type of summer bounty I am normally used to in June.  This book is vegetarian, so you will see eggs in the ingredients, but there are some great recipes that don’t even call for eggs at all, so I consider it worth purchasing.

I don’t normally enjoy baking – I don’t like the intricacies of making sure the humidity is appropriate and leveling or sifting my flour, or checking for the meniscus on my liquid ingredients. The reason why I fell in love with this cookbook was that the recipes didn’t call for this level of perfection. It’s ok if you add in some extra fruits or mix up some of the ingredients and you don’t have to worry about ruining the dessert.

In the introduction of this book, I especially enjoyed reading about Berkeley’s Monterey Market (this book is very California centric which was another reason why I loved reading it). I haven’t seen the full documentary, but I did watch a clip of Eat at Bill’s, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve been meaning to watch the whole documentary (it’s on the list!).

This cookbook also has a great ingredients and techniques section – I like to read different opinions on which tools are really necessary. As a rule of thumb, I try to follow Alton Brown’s “multitasker” approach to introducing new gadgets in my kitchen (put down the avocado slicer/pitter, you really don’t need it).  It also has so much detail on the different varieties within fruits and the pros and cons of each (she lists 10 varieties of plums in the book – I don’t think I’ve ever paid that much attention to plums).

The first chapter goes through some dessert basics such as whipped cream topping, vanilla sugar, tart doughs, icebox cookies and the chapters following expand on these basic elements to produce so many creative works of art.  I’m looking forward to heading out to the farmers market this season (once California decides to get its weather back) and try out some of these recipes.  That being said, I’m going to need some friends to try out my experiments, because this cookbook doesn’t quite align with my fitness targets for this summer :).

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