Two things should be kept in mind when approaching the latest book from Sherri Brooks Vinton (The Real Food Revival, Put ’Em Up).
Thing two: as a culture, we now know that the food we process ourselves is better than the stuff that is processed for us. Enter Eat It Up: 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy (DaCapo/Lifelong). “Kitchen efficiency is not a trend,” Vinton writes in her introduction. “It is one of the basic principles of home economy, allowing home cooks to turn out great-tasting meals without breaking the family bank.”
So what does that look like in real-world terms? Aside from some very strong chapters that set up her guiding principles, Vinton’s well thought out 150 recipes show us how to use every little bit. What to do with radish topics, brussels sprout leaves, potato peels (really). There’s a whole chapter on pumpkin seeds. Ditto parsley stems, green tomatoes, carrot tops and more.
Nor is all (or even any!) of this “leftover food.” Vinton’s 150 recipes feel very fresh and new for the most part. And many are real keepers. There is, for instance, a very elegant parsley soup that is actually made from the stems and trimmings of parsley, but that is so flavorful and elegant you could serve it to your very best company. And I can tell that the Quinoa Salad with Root and Greens is going to be a perennial favorite around my house. Beets, cranberries, pumpkin seeds would be wonderful enough here even without the parmigano-Reggiano that finishes it. And the Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate taking something I love to a whole new level.
Eat It Up is one for your permanent cookbook shelf. A book that will make you better, inside and out. ◊