DIY Cooking

People get ambitious in the summer.  Vistas of leisure time seem to beckon, although all too often they turn out to be illusions.  Some of us decide to build decks.  Some of us buy packs of vegetable starts, which we convince ourselves will not succumb to pest attacks, July drought, and choking by weeds.  And some of us take on food projects we would never consider sensible any other time of year.

I’m not sure what else can account for the uptick in canning and preserving books the last five years.  This year brings two new offerings worth noting: Tart and Sweet takes things in a puckery direction, with flavor-forward refrigerator pickles and straight-ahead preserves.  Jams & Jellies in less than 30 minutes is the gateway drug of canning–a big-type, pretty picture book that assures you that you, too, can do this, and it won’t turn you or your spouse into a “canning widow” all August.

The DIY trend of the summer, though, is beer.  It was bound to happen, after summer after summer of little party drinks and Caribbean cocktails flouncing their way poolside.  Brewers finally get their due with a brace of ale books.  Beer Craft, by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill, is the one you give as a gift, with its retro illustrations, tables and charts, and introductory recipes.  The Complete Homebrew Beer Book, by George Hummel, is the one you go to for fresh inspirations and a rainbow mosaic of fermentation, from Bavarian Hefeweizen to Blueberry Bliss Mead, and even gluten-free beer.

For a moment I thought we’d have a book on smoking, too: Smokin’ with Myron Mixon.  But on closer inspection, it turned out to be just another grill & barbecue book–one of the legions.  It’s too bad, because the market could really use a good book on smoking.  Oh well–maybe that will be next year’s trend.

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