Happy Wednesday! We’re giving away a signed copy of the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook as part of PimpMyPreserves (entries close this Friday, December 20th at 11:59PM). David donated the book after we informed him that we would be writing a review; this is not a solicited, sponsored or paid post. If you want to skip the background story, skip right to the review (it’s clearly marked below).
“Why do you do it?”
Those 5 words form the most frequent question I get asked. I often play a little coy and ask what “it” is that I do? I’m not trying to be cheeky when asking that; it’s just that I don’t think of WellPreserved as a single thing that I do. I have lots of hobbies that range from writing to photography to cooking to eating to reading to social media and preserving – it just so happens that I pursue a single subject (broadly described as ‘food’) through multiple areas of my life.
But the second part of the answer is the direct answer that most are looking for:
David Ort – Our Shared Background
In the almost 5 years that Dana and I have written WellPreserved, we both agree that it’s largest impact on us has been the group of people from around the world that have entered our lives as a result. One of those people is David Ort.
David came into our lives shortly after we began WellPreserved. A quick search of our comments found one from him in 2010 (on a post describing my ‘system’ to protect yourself from mosquitos at night). David’s post ended with a question;
Have you tested the wall of smoke under these conditions? Have you tested the wall of smoke under these conditions?
In the 3 years since he posted that question, I’ve seen him ask endless others. And this is what I adore about David; he is endless curious, genuine in his questions and wanting to learn the whole truth about any topic he pursues.
He started his blog (Food with Legs) in 2009 and tries to answer things that made him curious in the kitchen. Take, for example, his “Great Popcorn Experiment” where he compared two different styles of cooking popcorn and tried to draw an academic conclusion of which was better. David is innately curious without be absurdist or snobby in his pursuit of food (in fact, I think a good argument could be made that, when it comes to food, I’m snobbier than he is).
Even though I’ve communicated with David a lot, we’ve only met 15 or 20 times. I’m pleased to think of him as a friend.
The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook – the Review
Having said all that, I wouldn’t be sharing any of this if I was anything less than thrilled with his first book. “The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook.” I’ve torn through the book multiple times and think it’s great – and think it’s especially interesting to those of us who preserve and conserve food.
This is a book about cooking (and preserving) with beer. Pairing is easy – drink the beer you’re cooking with and you have an automatic match!
If you’re not Canadian, the recipes will still work. Although each recipe recommends a specific Canadian Craft Beer, each also points out the style of beer that’s being used so it’s rather easy to make replacements.
The book is broken into 11 significant sections:
- Introduction (to craft beer and cooking with it)
- Salads and soups
- Noodles and Rice
- Meat and poultry
- Sweets and desserts
- Beer cocktails
- The Pantry
- Further Reading
There are also 4 profiles and anecdotes that flavor each recipe.
In writing a book about beer and cooking with beer, I really admire that David avoided a few stereotypes that often pollute beer writing:
- He avoided the stereotype that beer is for macho cavemen. Although I have a few delightful neadratholic moments each week, beer is not the exclusive domain of men (though some writing might have you believe that). Of the 3 beer professionals he highlights in his book, two are female including our new friend, Mirella Amato, who is Canada’s first ever Master Cicerone (the equivalent of the highest level of Sommalier).
- Although there are some deep-fried recipes (including fried chicken that marinates in sour beer and cream), there is also a good number of healthy recipes in the book and many that could be cooked as a regular meal.
- Not all beer drinkers consume copious amounts of meat. I plan to dig into his recipe for tabbouleh soon and it’s nice to have a variety of options (including meat) included through the book.
- It’s not overly simplistic. Sure, there are easy recipes but there are also a few that would stretch our ability to find the ingredients. (such as cooking with Hops shoots; David mentions that many craft beer drinkers make their own beer and even grow their hops so he helps them use the shoots to cook with). These recipes are minimal but I love that there are some difficult recipes in the book as it means that I’m learning new things.
Finally, there are preserving recipes! David covers a bunch of preserving ideas including:
- Beer salt
- beer vinegar(s)
- Beer pickled onions
The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is well put-together, simple to read and focusses on it’s clear intent: how to use beer as an ingredient in your cooking.
How do you use beer as an ingredient in your cooking?