Attention all foodies and blog readers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area or close enough by to make the trip – Jeni Bauer the author of the book, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home” and recent recipient of the James Beard Award will be at the Produce Station in Ann Arbor, Michigan this coming Sunday, June 24th from 2pm-6pm. The Produce Station is hosting the Art of Local. It’s an event honoring local art, local music, and local food. They were be tents sent up featuring local food vendors sampling their creations. One of the highlights of this event is an appearance by Jeni. Anyone who wins a James Beard award, which is the Oscars of the food world, is definitely worth meeting (not to mention the ice cream samples!).

Jeni started making ice cream in 1996, and now has 8 retail shops in Ohio. She also sells her ice cream via mail order and to many retail clients. Jeni’s book is all about making those flavors at home such as Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk, Salty Caramel, and Ugandan Vanilla Bean. I love how the book itself is divided into seasons. I prefer to make my own ice cream when ingredients are at their peak. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is all about using the best ingredients at their peak.

Check out the book and if you can check out the Art of Local this Sunday!

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If you ever thought about making your own soda pop, then I have a book that you should check out. If you haven’t thought about making your own soda pop, then I have a book that you should check out. “Homemade Soda” by IACP award winning author, Andrew Scholoss is the best book that I have found on the subject. The book contains 200 recipes including recipes for sparkling water, fruit sodas, root beers, colas, herbal sodas, fizzy juices, sparkling teas, coffees, chocolates, cream sodas, egg creams, and more.

The book is laid in a logical fashion. The author begins the book with talking about the ingredients, including an extensive section on sweeteners, including artificial ones. He also weights in on high fructose corn syrup. All the equipment you would need to make your own soda is covered as well.

The thing I like most about the book is that for most recipes he gives alternative ways to carbonate, either using seltzer water, using a soda siphon (which he teaches you how to use in the book), or the old fashion way with yeast. It gives the reader options to do whatever they feel most comfortable with. If your just starting out the seltzer water method is the best way to go. He likes how he doesn’t just say mix with seltzer water, but gives a portion of syrup to use, then you can adjust from there whether you want or less in the future. I also like that a lot of the recipes use ingredients that are easy to find with the others being things you can order online (like sassafras root for root beer).

The art, colors, and photos in the book are very well done. The photography is motivating enough to give the recipes a try. I think too once you try some of the recipes, you will be making your own flavors in no time, in which then you can pass the book along to a friend to get them inspired.

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CheeseEssentials Cheese is my favorite food. Nothing can beat good cheese. I have been searching for good resources on cheese, but everyone I found didn’t have the information I wanted. Until I stumbled upon “Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials”. The thing that all other cheese books lacked that I have seen is a listing of cheese by flavor (mild, medium, strong, etc.) This book has that and a wealth of other great information. The book is broken down into categories for each type of cheese: fresh, semi-soft, soft-ripened, surface-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and washed rind. For each cheese she explored where they come from, the characteristics of their type, how to use them, how to store them and specific recipes. She even includes a little tidbits on how is making the best cheeses across the country. The book itself is easy to read, visually appealing, and well laid out. If you are cheese lover, this is the must have book. It even comes with an endorsement from my favorite Food Network personality, Alton Brown. With this book in any, you wouldn’t neend another book on this topic again.

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Melissa’s World Variety Produce is the leading distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables in the United States. This company knows their produce, so a book by them is a valuable source of information. Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fruits and Vegetables was written by Cathy Thomas of the Orange County Register. This book is meant to be a guide that covers a wide range of topics, but not in a tremendous amount of detail. Each fruit and vegetable is listed by type, and the different varieties are explained. Then the availability of each variety, listed both for domestically and globally. The book is full of colorful photos that will make your mouth water. Also many recipes are included, so that you can get an idea of what to do with some like jack fruit or swiss chard or anything you might find at your local farmer’s market. I also like the tips the book gives on how to properly store each fruit or vegetable. This book would make a great gift for the food lover in your family.

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As the calendar now says November, and the stores are filling up with Christmas merchandise, you may be starting to think about Christmas gifts for family and friends. Throughout the season, I will be providing my readers with gift ideas for the food lover. I thought I would start off by looking at some books from my ultimate food inspiration, Alton Brown. He has come out with several books over the years and I have found that the cheapest place to get these books are at Amazon.com. If you shop at some place like Borders or Barnes & Noble, you could end up paying $40 for one of these books, especially the new Good Eats book.

I’m Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0
This book is one I turn to quite often. They say if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime, this is that kind of a book. It teaches you the science behind cooking from deep frying to roasting. It also is packed full of great recipes, with my favorite being one for flank steak.

I’m Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking
This book is just like the above book, except it focuses on the topic of baking. Science is even more important with baking as one wrong measurement can completely throw off a recipe.

Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen
This is one of the most common resources I use in research for this site. This books talks about every kitchen tool you can imagine. If you ever wondered what toaster Alton recommends, then this is the book to buy.

Good Eats: The Early Years
This book covers the first 80 episodes of Good Eats. It contains recipes from the show including updates and new recipes. It contains information from the shows, so it can be easily at your fingertips. It’s a great book to have on your coffee table.

Good Eats 2: The Middle Years
This is the latest book in the Good Eats series. It covers the middle episodes of the series.

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Niman Ranch Cookbook If you are a meat lover there are two things that will make your live even better – buying Niman Ranch products and purchasing the Niman Ranch Cookbook. This fabulous book shares the history of Niman Ranch farms and how they went from a single family to over 500 independent farms all following the Niman Ranch philosophy. This book will teach you where their philosophy is – how they raise their cattle and why, to what they eat. All of these help produce some of the finest quality meat you will find on the market. The book has chapters on beef, pork, and lamb as well as a section on tips on how to prepare these meats. There is also pictures of each animal to show you where you get certain cuts from. These are the best pictures I have seen anywhere of this.

If this all wasn’t enough, there is also a ton of recipes for many delicious meals from Cider-Glazed Pork Chops to Grilled Leg of Lamb to Carne Asada Steak. Many of these recipes are from restaurants that use Niman Ranch meat.

I highly recommend buying this book for all it’s useful information and wonderful recipes. Anyone that likes to cook meat would benefit from this book.

Click here to check out one of my favorite Niman Ranch products – BACON!

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amazonkindle Do you own an Amazon Kindle Are you looking for some good cookbooks or food related books to purchase for your Amazon Kindle? If you have one it is a great way to rid your kitchen of the clutter of piles and piles of cookbooks. Some people think it can become a must have “kitchen appliance” like a toaster or a food processor. Below is list of some of the best books that I recommend that you can currently buy the Kindle version. Clicking on the title of book will bring you to it’s Amazon Kindle page.

1. How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table

This is a wonderful guide on how to choose fruits and vegetables to get the best quality. Find the history of each item, from apples to peaches to green beans. Also find out where these things are grown. The best part of the book is that you learn why certain types of produce are found in today’s supermarket.

2. I’m Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0

This is THE book for learning how to cook written by Alton Brown of Good Eats fame. It goes through every type of cooking from grilling to roasting. It also include many great recipes and tips.

3. BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes

This is THE book for learning how to bake. It containing many fabulous recipes, and each one the author explains why she is using certain ingredients. The science behind each recipe is explained, so that you know what is really happening in your oven.

4. Home Cheese Making

Want to learn to make your own cheese? This is the source for all things cheese making related. Tons of recipes are included from easy ricotta to more difficult cheddar.

5. The Ultimate Brownie Book: Thousands of Ways to Make America’s Favorite Treat, including Blondies, Frostings, and Doctored Brownie Mixes

Are you a brownie lover? Then this is the book for you. This book will keep you busy turning our different variations on this chocolate treat. It’s good for both those who love cakey brownies and those who love fudgy brownies.

6. The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas,

This book contains a ton of ice cream, sorbet, and granita recipes. It’s not my favorite for explanation, but it’s great just for the wide range of recipes.

7. Making Artisan Gelato: 45 Recipes and Techniques for Crafting Flavor-Infused Gelato and Sorbet at Home

Want to make your own gelato? Then this is the book you need. The author provides tips and tricks to help turn whatever fruit, nut, or other flavoring into a sweet, cold delight.

8. Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book

Bob’s Red Mill is known for making some of the highest quality whole grain products on the market. I regularly use their corn meal. This book contains recipes to make some of the best and healthy baked goods and breads you have ever turned out.

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If you love cookies, but are getting tired of the same old cookies all the time, then The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion will keep you busy for a long time. This book is a thick book, over 500 pages (if you count the index). The book has every kind of cookie imaginable. The book includes sections on chocolate chips cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, molasses cookies, peanut butter cookies, shortbread, biscotti, brownies, bars, and squares, drop cookies, roll-out cookies, shaped cookies, batter cookies, and no-bake cookies. I don’t think they left any type of cookie out. This book is not just a book of recipes. It is a teaching tool. You learn how to bake cookies. And if something does it go right, this book might have the answer to why. Each recipes has a short introduction and the ingredients are easy to read and the instructions are well laid out. For the more difficult recipes you can find diagrams showing the steps you need to take. There is also a section of color photos in the middle of the book that will get your mouth watering. This is the book, that any baker or cooker love needs to have as part of their library.

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In my mission to make as many things from scratch as possible, I had to check out a book on how to make my own cheese. I found a good one in Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. This book contains 75 different recipes for cheese. A lot of them are challenging (in making and in finding the ingredients). But if you can pull it off and have fun doing it, then why not give it a try. The book contains everything from soft cheese like cream cheese and ricotta to hard cheese like cheddar and gouda. The recipes include cheese made from not only cow’s milk but goat’s milk as well. But before you get into those recipes you have a chance to dive into some cheese making history and a lesson on the ingredients and equipment you will need to create your own. I haven’t had the chance to try any myself but I am looking forward to doing so.

I saw this book on a shelf at Zingerman’s Creamery in Ann Arbor, MI. In fact the co-founder of Zingerman’s, Ari Weinzweig is quoted on the back of the book. Ari is an expert when it comes to making good food, so a recommendation from him means a lot.

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While searching the shelves of my local library, I came upon this new offering from Bruce Weinstein (at least new at my library) called the “The Ultimate Brownie Book“. My first thought is how many brownies recipes could there be. Is there enough to fill an entire book? Apparently there was. The book is packed full of recipes for slightly different takes on the classic brownie, such as malt brownies, banana brownies, and sweet potato brownies. Those that love cakey brownies will find something for them as well as for the fudgy brownie lovers. What you won’t find is pictures, minus the one on the front cover, so if you need to have a picture to go long with your recipes, then you might want to move on to another book. The book also contains recipes for blondies, icings, frostings, and drizzles.

If you are a brownie lover and are just looking for some new ideas on how to get your chocolate fix, give this book a read. Also check out my review of Bruce Weinstein’s The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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