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Travel by Books (Mostly) About Food…

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(Mostly) About Food…

by Diane Pohl Minott

Travel by Books

On one particularly cold and dreary spring day, of which there have been so many, I headed to The New Kitchen store to pick up a few essentials and to check out what’s new because there ALWAYS seems to be something new in stock. I am an unapologetic collector of cookbooks, especially those from other regions, and I regularly check out Phyllis’s shelves as she has titles I don’t find anywhere else.

Gotta Go There

One of the first books to catch my eye fit perfectly with this month’s theme of armchair travel, The New Wine Country Cookbook. Who wouldn’t want to visit California’s wine country? Images immediately come to mind of leisurely lunches on sun-dappled terraces overlooking the vineyards. Died-and-gone-to heaven local food served by locals who can tell you where everything is sourced and which wine to pair with it. This book deserves some more of my attention. Haven’t been to the CA wine country, but I gotta go.

Binns, Brigit, The New Wine Country Cookbook, Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 2013.

Local Food

I bought Farmers in Lake Country by Loren Schaum who grew up in Elkhart County and wrote about many of the food producers in the area. She includes a LOT of recipes, many of which are international in theme. I was really impressed by the variety and sophistication of the recipes, including Thai Shrimp Stew, Duck and Black Eyed Pea Cassoulet, Eggplant Stuffed with Spiced Ground Lamb, and one I have to try, Chocolate Pumpkin Marble Cake.

Best of all, you get a feel for the local food producers through profiles and photos and an excellent list of area and national resources for such foods as turtle meat, pheasant, and goose. This book is a treasure. And you can buy the herbs and spices you need while you’re at the store.

Schaum, Loren, Farmers in Lake Country, Martinsville: Fedeli Publishing, Inc., 2015

Not A Cookbook But…

I’m a sucker for diners. There’s barely a week that goes by that I don’t watch at least one episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri has the best job ever! So, I had to take a look at Cafe Indiana.

If you have an interest in diners with verified “good home cooking” and charm, this is the book for you. It provides recommendations in small towns under 10,000 in six tourist regions with traditional ambiance and local flavor. If you live in Indiana or travel through every now and then, you’ll find unpretentious gems galore. Some selections are profiled in depth, others have a few lines dedicated to them, but all sound like they’re worth a visit. I have added a few to my must-visit list even though they’re a good drive away. Summer’s coming. It’s always nice to have a few pre-planned road trips.

Note: This book does not seem to have been updated since it was first published. I did a quick online search of a random ten cafés from the book, and they are all still in operation. Obviously, it pays to search a particular restaurant before you start salivating and head out the door.

Stuttgen, Joanne Raetz, Cafe Indiana, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.

The Memories are Flooding Back

In checking my own cookbook collection, I selected Kaukasis by Olio Hercules (Love the name!). Some cookbooks transport, and this one does. My husband and I lived in Georgia for 4-1/2 years and Azerbaijan for two years, and I’ve spent a few weeks in Armenia. I know a thing or two about cooking in the Caucasus. I’ve yet to try a recipe from the book, and I do hope they prove to be a reliable representation of traditional cooking, which the people of that region take extremely seriously.

As an example, I was speaking with a Georgian colleague about venues for a business dinner. She recommended a restaurant because “the cooking there tastes just like my mother’s.” I inquired if that was the finest compliment she could pay a restaurant and she answered in the affirmative. While I was pondering that for a moment, she asked if I went to restaurants where the food tasted like my mother’s. “Uhhhh…..no,” I replied, the cultural chasm too great to explain in the time we had.

But the names and the beautiful pictures prompt a host of memories, all of them good. Recipes for kinkali (meat dumplings), Adjaran khachapouri (cheese bread with a baked egg on top), and fermented jonjoli (bladdernut buds) beckon to be attempted even knowing that local ingredients are no match for the flavors of the ancient Caucasus. More will be said in future blogs about Georgian cuisine. Of the 100 or so nationalities in the former Soviet Union, there is little debate about which cuisine is the finest.


Hercules, Olia, Kaukasis, A Cookbook, San Francisco: Weldon Owen, 2017.

Huge News

On Thursday, May 3, The Northwest Indiana Food Bank unveiled its new facilities in Merrillville. With 72,000 square feet (an increase of 60,000 square feet over their current location), they have plans tor the following: increased space for more volunteers, community garden, café for culinary job training, community meeting space, and 5,000 square feet of cold storage. Their new capacity will be 18 million (no typo) meals per year.

The Food Bank has raised $2.5 million of the $4.0 million needed, and the first $100,000 of donations received by May 18, will be matched by corporate donors.

For more information and to donate, check out the following website: https://foodbanknwi.org.



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