October 05, 2011

Food to Live By by Myra Goodman

Food to Live By written by Myra Goodman is one of my favorite cookbooks. While I have many, I find that this book offers many recipes that help make use of fresh ingredients that are both healthful and tasty. Each chapter starts out with a story and information about the particular dishes being made and also includes several beautiful clear photographs.

The book starts out as a somewhat biography on how Earthbound Organics (Myra and her husband's business) got started and their first few years of life on a farm where they eventually developed their prepackaged organic greens salads.

The first recipe chapter, It All Began With Raspberries is of course about the delectable little red berry. My favorite recipe from this chapter would be the Raspberry corn Muffins. Easy to make they are very tasty and a big hit at my workplace. They use fresh berries and are sweetened with honey instead of sugar, making them very healthy. But the raspberry chapter isn't just about muffins. It also has recipes for Scones, Jams, Ice Creams and more.

The next chapter is Soup. While all the soups I have made from this book are delicious, they are surprisingly time consuming. When one thinks of soups, easy throw together meals come to mind. Not so with Myra's methods. Her Sweet Corn Chowder, while delicious is very labor intensive. Even the corn is being cut from the cob! The Simply Chicken Soup, despite its name also took quite a bit of time to make. Also a chore in the kitchen, the Savory Split Pea Soup and the Mexican Albondigas soup. Not all were time consuming however, the Hearty Cauliflower Bisque was extremely easy to make. And as I said, all were delicious and well worth the time in the kitchen. This section also featured a field guide to Squash, with 9 different varieties highlighted.

Leafy Green Salads is the next chapter. As someone who just throws salads together I don't use this chapter as much as the rest of the book. It does include a Field Guide to Gourmet Greens which has pictures and descriptions of 25 different kinds of salad greens. It also includes a mini-chapter of Versatile Vinaigrette's, Dips, and Crunchy Nuts; all perfect accompaniments to a salad.

The next chapter explores Meat and Poultry Main Dishes. One of my favorite recipes of this chapter was the Maple-Brinded Pork Chops. It was like eating meat candy and took surprisingly little prep time. This chapter also included a very easy recipe for roasting a chicken. Mine came out looking just as golden and delicious as the full-page picture. Curried Chicken Salad was a unique take on a traditional meat salad and Myra inventively serves hers in avocado halves. One meal I wasn't particularly fond of from this section was the Herbed Turkey Loaf with Honey Mustard Glaze; unfortunately, this loaf fell prey to the usual dry texture that turkey seems to give.

Fish and Shellfish are the next part of the book. Being land-locked I have not made any of these recipes as it seems that to do them justice, fresh seafood would be needed. Most of the recipes look delcious although some, like the Ginger Lime Salmon seem to have a odd unique flavor combination.

The Pasta and Vegetarian Main Dishes is one of my favorite chapters. The Grilled Vegetable Lasagna, while very time consuming, was one of the most delicious lasagnas I've had the experience of eating and the Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni was easy to make and one of my favorite dishes of all time. The chapter also featured a section on Great Tasting Tomatoes that featured pictures and descriptions on 8 different kinds of tomatoes ranging from green, to red, to yellow. Warning, this chapter also includes several recipes for tofu for those who may not be the biggest fan of the soy substitute.

Chapter 7 covered side dishes. While there is a plethora of recipes in this section, I found some of these the most difficult to make. Due to my relative inexperience with fresh artichokes, the Roasted Balsamic Artichoke Bottoms was a complete flop for me. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, the Roasted Asparagus, Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes, and Creamy Potato Gratin were easy to make and very tasty.

Breakfast and Brunch was next. While not a big fan of breakfast I enjoyed several of these recipes. The Spanish Egg "Souffle Cake" was interesting and a very unique way of making breakfast. The Morning Glory Muffins made quite a few and while they used a ton of ingredients, I imagined it was just as healthy as eating a granola bar full of goodies. She also included a whole section on Smoothies in this chapter.

Chapter 9 covered desserts. In this chapter, she included a Field Guide to Apples. 6 different apples were featured with pictures and information. I'm not a dessert fan so I personally haven't made any of these recipes. Although, some of the pictures might be enough to convert me and make me try this section out.

The last chapter is simply titled "The Basics" and is a very handy section for a cook who likes to make everything from scratch. She has recipes for making your own chicken stock (which I now do every time I have leftover chicken parts), flavored vinegars (I have made the raspberry, very easy), Asian sauces such as Teriyaki, and even pie crusts and Matzoh meal.

Overall, the book contains 222 main recipes, although there are several "smaller' recipes that either accompany a main one or showcase a technique. In addition to this, the book has several smaller sections within chapters that explain an ingredient or give a specific technique for preparation.

I have recommended this cookbook to several other people who love it just as much as I do. While some of the recipes may use too many ingredients or be very complicated, the majority showcase easy to obtain ingredients and spectacular flavor.

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