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Monday, August 22, 2011

Cookbook Review: Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 9:50 AM

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In her follow-up book to "Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It," author Karen Solomon spent a year in her San Francisco kitchen dressed in a "punk rock Hello Kitty skull apron," rocking out to Lady Gaga and Arcade Fire, while concocting recipes for urban DIYers or "hipsters with mason jars," as she likes to call them.

Throughout the book's 14 chapters, readers are steered away from mass-produced, factory-made fare with made-from-scratch recipes for things like plum catsup, miso, pickles and chocolate hazelnut spread.

The book has something for everyone. Corn dogs and cheese weasels will appeal to your inner junk food junky, while vegan health foodies will go straight for the energy balls, aka "hippie snacks," and fresh tofu.

The instructions are laid out in a way that is easy to read and follow. You don't need to be a chef to make Solomon's recipes. Several of the dishes require time for brining, infusing, smoking and baking, but the majority of the prep can be done in an hour or less.

Most of the ingredients are readily available. However she does give tips on where to buy the few obscure ingredients online at the lowest cost.

Solomon's style is quirky and funny; she is not your typical cookbook author. In chapter 7, "Roast It," her lead-in for coffee bean roasting instructions had me laughing out loud:

"Also -- much like bong building -- coffee roasting seems to lend itself to home hardware hobbyists: look no further than your local laptop to find people hacking popcorn makers and more ("Dude let me show you my new vacuum cleaner-powered coffee roaster. It's AWESOME!")"

After reading "Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It," I was inspired to make Solomon's recipes for blueberry lemon soda, cornflakes and vanilla extract. The soda was refreshing, the cornflakes were amazingly simple and the vanilla is extracting in a jar my kitchen cabinet. I am counting down the 56 days until it is ready.

Marla Simon is a San Francisco-based chef, food stylist, and food writer. Follow her on twitter: @Marla_Simon

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Marla Simon

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