Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring's Must-Read Book Releases

1. The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet, by Alicia Silverstone, $29.99, at

2. Recipes from an Italian Summer, by Editors of Phaidon Press, $39.95, at

3. In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart, by Alice Waters, $28, at

I read cookbooks the way most people read novels--from cover-to-cover, absorbing every single word and taking notes of which recipes and techniques I most want to try. It's a weird habit of mine, but cookbooks entertain me just as much as the latest Eggers novel would (or, you know, the latest Twilight installment). This spring has sprung a batch of the some of the best food books I've seen in a while, which is making me one happy Milk & Moder. Above, the three best food books on the shelves now. 

I was especially affected by Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been an unabashed meat-eating carnivore my entire life. I love going to Momofuku Noodle Bar and consuming indecent amounts of pork belly. I make myself a big, juicy strip steak with my brother's homemade Hawaiian steak rub weekly. When I'm in Paris, I subsist mainly on foie gras and steak frites. I scoff at vegetarians and I look at vegans like they're a different species of human being, mysterious and alien-like. I love meat and poultry. And I haven't eaten either in over a month now. The Kind Life really made me stop and think about all the toxic foods I put into my body on a daily basis (and then wonder why I feel run-down and lackluster). And the bits on the way animals are treated at slaughterhouses and "farms" had me crying like a baby. Anyway, I won't go so far as to say that I'm a vegetarian--I love fish and I think I always will--but I will say this: I've cut back drastically on red meat and poultry and I am really, really, really proud of myself for it. I feel better, I look better, and I've definitely lost a few pounds. And besides all the personal gain, I know that I'm doing something good for animals and for the environment. That simple little tweak in my diet has changed me for the better, from the inside out. So if there's one food book to pick up this spring, it's definitely this one. 

Here, one of my favorite, easiest, most delicious recipes from the book:

Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips

1 box brown rice crisps cereal
1 3/4 cups brown rice syrup
Fine sea salt
3/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
1/2 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

Pour out the rice cereal into a large bowl. Heat the syrup with a pinch of salt in a saucepan over low heat. When the rice syrup liquefies, add the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Pour over the rice cereal. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Once thoroughly mixed and cooled to room temperature, stir in the chocolate chips. Make sure the mixture is cool, or you will end up with melted chocolate instead of chocolate chips in your treats.

Turn the mixture out into an 8" x 8" or 9" x 13" baking dish. Wet your wooden spoon lightly and press the mixture evenly into the pan. Let cool for 1 hour--if you can--before cutting into squares or bars.