I bought a book at Williams Sonoma last Friday entitled "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects," by Karen Solomon. Taking advantage of this holiday weekend, I've now read it cover to cover. Although I've attempted to do this with other cookbooks, such as with Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking," and M.F.K. Fisher's "With Bold Knife and Fork", I've never succeeded. And, trust me, it's not because these weren't educational, entertaining or interesting. I figure it's simply because I became distracted or perhaps overwhelmed.
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Not so with "Jam It...." This book was a joy to read. I was instantly drawn in because she denounced high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed fat or any other manner of chemically altered, shelf stable groceries within the first few sentences of the book. The way Ms. Solomon writes is right up my alley. There's no pretense here, it's all matter-of-fact and honest. She makes many references to having a modest kitchen, and it's clear that she has no intent to develop a line of specialty cookware or utensils that could be considered "must haves" in order to create good things. She gives options for using food processors, for instance, but also tells us what to do if we're not blessed to have such kitchen implements.
The way she "speaks" made me feel as if I was sharing culinary war stories with one of my friends around the kitchen table. If you're interested in eating more wholesome food and can commit what seems to me to be a small amount of time to learning the skills she shares in "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects," this is a must read.