Thursday, April 4, 2019

New Cookbook Review: The Food in Jars Kitchen

The Food in Jars Kitchen is a cookbook after my own heart: it uses little bits of food in clever, flexible ways and gives the home-canned pantry lots of work to do.  I've been keeping track over the years of what my family eats, so I've cut back on making jam because we don't go through much toast and jam.  Marisa is evangelical about people like me in her Introduction - there's so much more to do with jam than toast! She is giving me an "empty-jar-to-empty jar education."

When my copy came in the mail, I put my nose in it and my pencil to paper as I jotted down all the recipes I could make right away.  There are so many! I did make three before I wrote this post, and I will make all of them again.

Also, please note: I received this book free as a review copy, but my opinions and my decision to write a review are my own.

First, I made Popunders.  Isn't that the most adorable name? I made them one morning at breakfast time and while we did, indeed, spoon a little jam in their little hollows, I could also see a dab of cheese or pesto or a bit of anything that I would put on bread.  Popunders are super-fast to whip up, sugar-free, made with pantry staples and standard muffin pans, and just need 20 minutes in the oven, no-preheating needed.

 Even though Marisa recommends them hot from the oven, we found they made a perfectly fine snack at room temperature a few hours later.

For a family gathering, I made the Concord Grape Butter Pizza with Camembert.  Oh! that was delicious! When I make and can grape juice in the fall, I use the spent skins to make grape butter, so I've got plenty of grape butter on hand.

I followed Marisa's pizza crust recipe instead of using my standard favorite, and it was the perfect thickness and texture for its toppings as well as easy to make and handle.  Marisa also explains the ratio of sweet spread to cheese to green topping which is helpful to cooks who want to go off-recipe.  I used Brie instead of Camembert and chopped arugula instead of baby arugula.  So, so, so delicious. I will definitely be making this for future neighborhood potlucks.

Yesterday, I made Marisa's Jam-Lacquered Chicken Wings for supper (excellent name!). I buy whole chickens and when I cut them up to cook, I've been collecting the wings separately in the freezer.  I've never made wings before, just threw them into stock, but I was determined to try since Ben has requested wings several times. 

Marisa's recipe was very clear and produced excellent results.  I didn't know meat can literally cook under the broiler - I typically just use the broiler to brown something.  But the wings cooked under the broiler exactly as Marisa indicated.  To paint the wings, I finished up jars of fig jam and grape butter and added some tomato jam as well as enough runny pepper jam (from 2013! it was waiting for its destiny) to give them a nice kick.

Next time, I will salt the wings on both sides and also broil them on both sides to increase the caramelization.  I find it annoying to get my fingers so messy for such a little bit of  (ok, delicious) meat, but my family was loving these wings, so ok, I do love seeing my people enjoy their food. Too bad my fingers were too sticky to operate my camera!

There is really a lot more to love in this cookbook.  I'm going to use my onion jam in a Goat Cheese Savory Jam Tart, and I'm going to consider all the options for a jar of apple butter that I don't think we will spread on toast.  I appreciate Marisa's inclusion of some basic canning recipes in the final section because I have a deep yearning for Orange Marmalade Ice Cream and no marmalade in my pantry.

 I have two small quibbles with the book, both of which are typical of me and typical of most cookbooks being published (and probably not Marisa's decisions, either).  I prefer spiral bound cookbooks for kitchen use because it's tricky to get a stiff hardcover book to stay open while I cook. But good job keeping the recipes mostly on the same spread! It's also very tricky to turn pages between ingredient list and instructions while cooking.   I also prefer a very detailed index that includes major ingredients as entries so that I can look up recipes based on the ingredients they use, not just the recipe name or type.

I highly recommend the Food in Jars Kitchen cookbook.  It's beautiful to look at and full of recipes for daily cooking - from quick-the-kids-need-a-snack to the fancy-food potluck happening on the weekend. 


Tammy said...

I have had two cookbooks spiral bound at Office Max. I hate trying to use a cookbook that keeps snapping shut! So annoying! With a hardbound book, you might not be able to keep the cover on if you get it bound, but at least it would stay open when you use it.

Marisa said...

I am so happy that you are pleased with this book! And I totally hear you on the index front. I begged for a more extensive index, but we were right up against the page count and if the book had been any longer, we would have had to move up another 8 or 16 pages (I never remember in which increment book pages move). So I was overruled. :(

Hazel said...

Not long to wait until it's published in the UK :-)

And I've just made lots of marmalade, I'd send you some if we lived a bit closer...

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Great ideas! I never thought of it but I could use my peach jam on pork!

Becky said...

I have been looking forward to this book! I have a few ways in which I use up the jars, but new ideas are always welcome.
And I am with you on spiral bound books - I think my old Betty Crocker binders are among my favorite because of the binder! Instead, I crack all the spines of my cookbooks and after a little bit of use, it's easy to see from all the spills which recipes are my favorites.

e said...

I love Marisa's recipes! I have even been to a couple of classes when she has been on a trip to Portland. I do, in fact, eat a lot of jam on toast but it is also nice to have additional ways to use up the bounty. Home preservers hate to waste food and these recipes look like perfect ways to include that precious commodity in multiple ways.
Great review!

Ernie said...

These recipes do look delicious. It did not occur to me, but you are right - cookbooks should be spiral bound as a general rule. Did someone not want his picture taken?!

Margo said...

Ernie, he looks unhappy but Ben's excitement about the wings was too good to pass up. In fact, I had some other photos where he looked pleased :)

Lana said...

Wings are worth the messy fingers! I try to do all finger food with them such as corn on the cob and oven potato wedges and celery and dip. My husband just keeps going to the sink and washing his hands all through a messy meal which I have learned to live with. It used to really irritate me!

Margo said...

Lana! What a great idea for a menu! Perhaps this is also (I realize now) the reason that wings are party food. . .


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