Springing into new foods

By Marianne Murray Guess

I was looking through a catalog recently that lists new books for retailers to purchase. Since spring is just around the corner, I was honing in on the gardening and outdoor cooking sections and came across some interesting titles of books that were a little bit out of the ordinary. They offer gardening, cooking and other tips and techniques you may not think about every day.

What’s the buzz? Across the country communities are looking for ways to increase and support local bee populations. With the decline of bee populations in some areas, honey — or as some call it “liquid gold” — has become more precious. In her book, “Homemade With Honey,” Sue Doeden explores its historical uses as well as culinary applications. Doeden, a cooking instructor and food writer, shows you how to use this deliciously sweet ingredient in a wide variety of dishes, from enchanting sweets, savory foods and flavorful beverages. She also offers tips for storing honey during its unlimited shelf life and for rescuing honey that has crystallized. You might even think about producing honey with your own bees. Most members of The Southwestern Ohio Bee Keepers Association keep two to four hives; others up to forty. Some produce for their own personal use, others make it a part of their income. This is a “sweet” little book to help you make the tastiest use of this yummy ingredient.

Powerful Plants: Our ancestors have used herbs in daily life for thousands of years. Dr. Michael Balick, vice president for Botanical Science for the N.Y. Botanical Garden, has spent more than 20 years learning how herbs have been used to heal and promote good health. In his book, “21st Century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Nature’s Most Powerful Plants,” he shows you how easy it is to bring healing herbs into your life. Also, how you can boost your health naturally, add beauty to your garden, flavor your favorite dishes and use herbs all around the house. One thing I found browsing dozens of recipes in this book was that chocolate is an herb — not an indulgence!

Start Smoking: No, not cigarettes, but a how-to guide to smoking foods. Chris Fortune, a New Zealand chef, has written “Smoking Foods — A Guide to Smoking Meat, Fish and Sea Food, Vegetables, Cheese, Nuts and Other Treats.” This is the essential guide for anyone who wants to discover the delicious flavors of smoked food and get the best out of their smoker. This is a perfect source for smoking food, whether you’re a beginner wondering how to get started or an expert looking for new and exciting recipes. What you’ll find are helpful tips and advice for hot and cold smoking all kinds of foods, 40 basic and adventurous recipes and beautiful full-color photographs of delicious dishes. As the weather warms up and we start to head outside to eat, there is no better time to have a go at home smoking.

Garbage in, Garbage out: Mary Appelhof, author of “Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System,” said her kitchen trash used to smell awful. It was an unusable collection of refuse — coffee grounds, banana peels, lettuce leaves, onion trimmings, orange peels and plate scrapings. But no longer! This book is the definitive guide to vermicomposting — a process using red worms to recycle human food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. Appelhof, who has worked with worms for over three decades, provides complete illustrated instructions on setting up and maintaining small scale worm composting systems. No more holding your breath from smelly garbage. Now your garbage will be converted to black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus that you can use to grow delicious

garden vegetables and beautiful plants. Over 165,000 copies of this book have been sold and that’s not trash!

Sometimes our weather is a little out of the ordinary this time of year just like the titles of these books. But the warmth you get from reading them will make you think spring is in the air. Happy reading, everyone!

Marianne Murray Guess is the owner of New and Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood. She lives in Laura, Ohio.

By Marianne Murray Guess