October 3, 2009

A Book Review-Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You've Got

I've been absent from this whole blogging shindig for a bit and I'm sure all three of you followers noticed, yuk yuk. In my absence I've been moving, working hard, and without a home computer to create any blogging masterpieces (another requisite yuk yuk).

In the meantime Michelle and I managed to attend our very first book reading! The book is Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You've Got by Tod Davies. This came recommended to me by a dear friend, and freelance publishing company advocate, Jenn Abel. Not only did she recommend the book but managed to have a copy sent to me with a note from the author. I've never felt so special in my life!

The book reads much like a blog does; short entries about what the author cooked, ate, felt, and experienced in her day. There's an underlying theme throughout the book and that is simplicity. As the title implies, the book exudes a sense of gearing down and viewing cooking not as a chore or a nuisance but as a call to listening to your body and the ingredients you have on hand. Two points I absolutely loved about the book, and identify strongly with, are the fact that she hates to waste things and that she gets a thrill out of thinking up quick dinners that require a short stop at the market, if any at all. Easily two of my favorite pastimes.

Michelle and I got to experience her skill for turning other people's pantry items into quick dinners firsthand at the reading. Attendees were instructed to list and circle the items they currently had stocked at home and Davies turned these into quick and delicious sounding meals off the top of her head. All the while the audience munched away on homemade eggplant caviar (recipe listed in the book, page 154). Pair this with Davies' quick wit and instant charm and I'd say it was a successful first book reading for us indeed.

Inspired by this, Michelle and I went back to my place and decided to cook with what I had on hand. It was not exactly from scratch or extravagant (that's the point right?) but it was delicious. We pan fried pot stickers from TJ's, steamed some broccoli, and made a small salad with cucumbers and asian ginger dressing. I whipped up a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, fish sauce, honey, chopped garlic, and ginger powder. Accompanied by a glass of wine, which Davies seems to add to her meals more often than not, and I'd say we paid proper homage to a great book.

steaming away

et voila!

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