There exists in history plenty of celebrities who have released cookbooks. And there exists a lot of food bloggers in today’s world who have authored their own cookbooks. I think the first cookbook that I was aware of that was written by a blogger was the Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. I don’t have my own copy of it, but I do own my own copy of Chernila’s second book, Homemade Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed both. Most recently, she’s released her third book, Eating from the Ground Up. I loved her first two books instantly that I really thought I’d feel the same about her third book.
The truth is I’m actually not sure how I feel about Eating from the Ground Up.
Something that I really appreciate about this book is the layout. The book is broken down into the following chapters:
- Barely Recipes
- A Pot of Soup
- Too Hot to Cook
- Warmth and Comfort
- Celebrations and Other Excuses to Eat with Your Hands
At the back of the book, there’s a handy reference by vegetables. The listed vegetables are generally familiar and easily accessible. (Or at least, easy to find in Greater Boston. If you live in a small town or a village, your mileage may vary.)
- Beets and beet greens
- Bok choy
- Broccoli raab
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Green Chile
- Summer Squash And zucchini
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Turnips and turnip greens
- Winter squash
The Barely Recipes chapter is full of basic recipes that remind me of the intentions of the earlier cookbooks. The new book feels familiar overall, and the photography remains expertly styled and lovely.
The recipes I want to cook but it’s the wrong season right now? (FYI, there are some things that I refuse to cook out of season.)
- Napa Coleslaw with Pecans and Peas
- Grilled Summer Squash with Basil Ricotta
- Fresh Corn and Stone Fruit
The recipes that I might cook in the near future?
- Roasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Chili
- Whole Steamed Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Watercress Sauce
- Scallion Crepes
So if I have such praise for this book, what’s keeping me from outright enjoying it? Honestly, it’s a very personal opinion. I’m not feeling inspired by it. It’s like picking up a new album from a music artist you adore, one that’s solidly produced, but you find yourself hardly ever listening to it. I can say that there are recipes that I want to cook, but realistically I’m not sure I ever will.
Ugh! I feel so bad for admitting this! This book seems to be everything I like. I like recipes that don’t have an ingredient list a mile long. I like recipes that are approachable. I like vegetables, and I’m always trying to be better about eating enough of them.
This review is being published a week late because I couldn’t decide how I felt about this book, and I couldn’t decide on a recipe to make.
I eventually made Chernila’s version for zucchini chocolate bread. I chose this recipe because I like that there’s baking powder, baking soda, and yogurt. I’m suspicious of quick bread recipes there’s only baking soda as the leavener, but there isn’t enough of an acidic element in the ingredient list. In that case, you’re make a quick bread that just tastes like baking soda. Yuck.
There’s also a reasonable amount of sugar. I don’t want my zucchini breads to be cake.
What I didn’t consider was how much liquid there is in Chernila’s recipe. She doesn’t have you squeeze the grated zucchini (which I traditionally don’t do anyway), but she’s also got plain whole milk yogurt and milk in it. Now, I might have mis-measured something, but my loaf sank some after it came out of the oven. A quick Google search came up with “be sure there isn’t too much liquid in your ingredients” and “don’t underbake” as possible culprits. Even though I had mine in the oven longer than recipe suggestion, and it seemed to pass the toothpick test, the crumb does look undercooked.
Chernila writes that the recipe “it’s not too sweet… it has a quite a bit more zucchini than the average loaf, so you can really taste it.” Flavor-wise, I’m not unhappy. I even had a second slice this morning for breakfast. So I might try this again. Maybe next time I’ll just forgo the addition of milk and bake for a full hour. Or maybe I’ll try one of her other recipes in an effort to be fair.
Dear reader, do you have a copy of this book? Is there a recipe in particular that you’d recommend?
Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post.