“Summer is Fruitful. Summer is Generous. Summer is Exhausting. If you have a garden, too many things come in too fast. If you shop at a farmstand or farmers market, it’s easy to get carried away.” So begins the “Summer” section in Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving by Kevin West (Knopf). It’s hard to say it any more eloquently yet frankly than that. And it’s why I’m utterly in love with this artful book that helps you get every last juicy bite out of summer.
While I have many books on home canning and preserving, none treat their ingredients with quite the same vigor. For instance, Saving the Season includes not just one recipe for pickled beets, but four—traditional; with star anise; in apple-cider vinegar; and golden beets with ginger. There’s pickled purslane (something I’ve been eyeing in the markets all week) and apricot jam with honey and lemon verbena (the apricots in Seattle this year are out of sight). The berry section is a veritable love letter to the fruits we’re all enjoying right now, with blackberry poems from Seamus Heaney and Robert Hass, an essay on foraging wild mulberries, and a gorgeous still life of blackberries by the American painter Raphaelle Peale in 1813, whose frequent muse was the fruits of the American soil. And of course there are the recipes: wild-blackberry molasses, blueberry jam with gin, elderberry syrup, and more. Buy this book to use up all those figs and plums and peppers and peaches. Go back to it again and again to be romanced by the beautiful writings and illustrations.
Also just out this month: Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook (Ten Speed Press) by Joe Yonan, the food editor of The Washington Post and author of the Post’s “Weeknight Vegetarian” column. A great addition to any home-cooking shelf, this no-nonsense approach to making delicious vegetarian meals for one offers everything from sandwiches and soups and salads and dressings to baking, roasting and broiling, and entertaining. How-tos—like massaging kale, cutting corn kernels, and grinding your own chili pepper—add a plucky element for the adventurous home cook. Essays throughout, such as “The Vegetarian Restaurant Grows Up,” make for insightful reading.