Saturday July 18, 2015
Sherri Brooks Vinton opens Put ‘em Up! with the dedication: “For all of the home cooks who nourish family and friends, culture, and tradition.” Because of this beginning, I know that the food preserving cookbook is entirely consistent with the Heirloom Meals goal of reflecting upon the past with the recipes we make today.
You open the book to colorful backdrops and prints that do not overwhelm the eye but rather complement one another and add to the excitement and energy of the text. Vinton organizes recipes by the ingredient she wants to showcase, from apples to watermelon, discussing the different varieties that work best with specific techniques and making storage recommendations based upon the fruit or vegetable’s particular qualities. She goes into detail about blanching, making granita, categorizing jams and jellies by the fruits’ pectin levels, and illustrates each step with drawings of their technique. Her recipe for Curried Cauliflower brings color and flavor to a vegetable often seen as boring in appearance and bland in flavor. The Roasted Garlic is perfect to have around for adding to goat cheese to create a dynamic spread or eaten simply on its own atop a lightly-buttered slice of toast.
This isn’t a book only about recipes, but one that focuses also on how putting up food contributes to a sustainable agriculture. She says that canning is one of the most effective ways of getting the most from growing your own food. Vinton is an advocate for the benefits of preserved foods that allow you to lock in the flavor of the warmer months’ bounty. She emphasizes the simplicity in this method of cooking and discusses canning as a crucial component in the slow food movement. It supports both the producer and consumer while being respectful to the environment throughout the process
Vinton attributes the recipes’ development to both her Polish and Southern roots, basing the flavor combinations on the traditions of both these backgrounds. However, it is working with her dual heritage as well as the collaborative effort of both creativity and science that makes these preservations delicious and safe to eat. This book is exactly what you need to harness the beauty and warmth of summer so that you may enjoy it all winter long.