Writer and podcast host Anne Bramley was born in a blizzard, and her passion for winter cooking starts there. With memories of winter birthday cakes and holiday roast meats, she became, in her own words, obsessed with foods of winter. This was the starting point for her splendid book, Eat Feed Autumn Winter: 30 Ways to Celebrate When the Mercury Drops.
Is your mercury dropping right now? Is it down in the bottom of the thermometer, perhaps hovering near 0? If so, this book is for you. Read on for our thoughts and our snapshot review of this book and its highlights.
After the frenzy of holiday baking and feasting, and with no more major holidays until Easter, it often feels as if winter cooking, post-New Year's, has been forgotten. Yes, there's the chocolate ghetto of Valentine's, but we can't live on steak and bon-bons for an entire winter. This is where Bramley's book is a treasure: she reminds us that winter is full of inspiration for our kitchens, and the holidays are not the only reason to look forward to a long cold snap.
Here are our thoughts, in a quicker format and with a nod to Epicurious' sadly defunct format of book reviews.
Title & Publisher: Eat Feed Autumn Winter, by Anne Bramley with photos by Tina Rupp. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang in September 2008.
First impressions: Hardback book that opens easily, with gorgeous photographs, matte paper, and lovely formatting.
Number of recipes: Around 100
The other stuff: Secrets of the cold-weather pantry, with reminders and inspiration on seasonal eating, like dried fruit, citrus, squash, and crucifers. Basic stuff, but inspirational in the lists of things we know but forget. Also, the host's toolbox, with tips on equipment and shortcuts for winter entertaining.
The angle: Thirty chapters, each with a menu for a specific autumn or winter party. For instance, there's a Fresh from the Field chapter that suggests a Spanish harvest party for September, with Tomato Salad, Spanish Pizza with Chorizo and Peppers, and Cheesecake with Sherry Sauce. Later there's a Hunting Party menu (not that she thinks we really hunt much these days, but it draws fanciful inspiration from British hunting parties). Late in the winter she proposes a hearty Posh Pub Night with Parsnip Soufflés, Beef and Brown Ale Pie, and Bread Pudding.
Strengths: Beauty of photography, fanciful inspiration drawn from literature and tradition, combined with simple, practical, yet inspiring recipes. Even if you never make a whole menu, each offers inspiration for all times of winter and cold weather (not just the holidays).
Recipes for right now: Let's Make a Date Muffins, inspired by sticky toffee pudding, and Rustic Winter Stew with braised pork shoulder, sour cream, and sauerkraut. (Watch for recipe at The Kitchn shortly.)
Recommended? Yes, strongly.
Why? You may only cook a handful of recipes from this book, but they will remind you that winter is a beautiful time with traditions, recipes, feasts, and atmosphere all its own. This inspiration alone is worth the price of the book.
Buy the book: Eat Feed Autumn Winter: 30 Ways to Celebrate When the Mercury Drops, $23 at Amazon
(Images: Tina Rupp)