Steeped – Recipes infused with tea, by Annelies Zijderveld

Steeped - Recipes infused with tea Book Cover Steeped - Recipes infused with tea
Annelies Zijderveld
Cooking, recipes
Andrews McMeel Publishing
April 7 2015

One thing about me is that I sometimes read cookbooks. A second thing about me is that I have a highly specific compulsion regarding the purchasing of tea. I mean, I do that, a lot. So much that it is not humanly (or robotically?) possible to drink those amounts, and only barely possible to fit it all into my home.   It's just that I love the scents, and the brewing, and pretty mugs, and there is a well-known magical connection between hot beverages and books.

So I saw a cook book for recipes using tea as an ingredient, and I was all over it,  immediately.  Finally a way to give purpose to some of my tea cupboards! (They are plural!)

My first impression is - this would make a great gift for a tea enthusiast. Steeped is a beautiful book,  full of bright and inviting photos, and it opens with a reference to beloved fictional tea drinkers,  from Jane Eyre to Captain Picard.   The author is very clear on what types of tea will be employed throughout the book, and that her priority has been to use a selection that is not ridiculously hard to track down wherever you happen to be.    There are some instructional facts about each of these teas, including a brand recommendation or two, as well as a list of brewing times/temperatures, which can be really helpful.  I've brewed enough greens, blacks and tisanes to know some of these things, but I'm completely bamboozled by white teas. And oolongs.  And pu-erhs, for that matter.

The introduction part of the book is relatively short - then there are the recipes.  While I have certain dietary restrictions (no grains or gluten and as little sugar as possible), I find a lot of inspiration even in the things I'd have to modify quite a lot in order to put on my own menu.   Some of the ideas are perfect exactly as written, though.  There is most definitely chai infused yogurt in my near future. And lapsang souchong mayonnaise! Goodness, as much as I love lapsang, that usage had never occured to me.

(I have the most fun cooking when what I'm cooking is some disconcerting combination of things that even I have a hard time believing will come out tasting nice. I know green mint tea pea soup, for example, is something I'd have a hard time convincing anyone around me to try.  But that adds to the fun. And it sounds yummy.)

Oh, there are some more conventional recipes for actual drinks in here too,  like lassis, frescas, smoothies, and new spins on classic iced tea brews.  They, too, look like things that will happen to me eventually.

Overall,  this is a lovely special interest cookbook.   Get it for the tea-person in your life. Be aware that it isn't about tea, as such; there are other books out there to give you history and geography and meticulous descriptions of harvests and the treatment of leaves and so on.  This book is not for theory (tea-ory!) - it's for fun.  And food.  Obviously.

(And what did I drink while reading it? I started with a black mint tea, detoured through a tangerine rooibos, and landed on my favourite russian caravan.)



Fermented vegetables, by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey

Fermented Vegetables Book Cover Fermented Vegetables
Kirsten Shockey, Christopher Shockey
Storey publishing
September 3rd, 2014

Creative Recipes for Fermenting 80 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes

I understand this may look out of place on this blog, but I assure you, it's not. Fermentation is weird and crazy and upsettingly awesome. Also, delicious.  So.

This is a very helpful book for a lactoferment-beginner. The lacto has nothing to do with dairy, by the way.  All you need for this fermenting method is salt and water.  Well, also a crock or jar, and some veggies to put in there.    Even a non-beginner might appreciate the large, atmospheric photographs,  and the recipe collection.  I know I have added the fermented chimichurri and the lemon dill kraut to my immediate to do-list, certainly.    Following the ferment part is a section of recipes incorporating the fermented goodies you may have made, which I really appreciate. It had never occured to me to put fermented carrots in a carrot cake, but now I can't stop thinking about it. Honestly. I often think about bacteria, but the addition of the carrots is strange and unusual.

Of course, it's not just a recipe collection. The book tells you why fermenting is cool. It provides a picture guide to what kind of goop you may find on top of your ferment, so you know what an evil goop may look like.   There's a lot of what I think of as fluff; personal experiences, the romantic aspect of local produce, et cetera.  I can see how it may appeal to a target group I don't belong to - I do not feed a family, and would avoid a local marked with great effort if it meant, um, talking to people.  See?  I recognise I am not who this is written for. There's also the nagging suspicion, with books like these, that all the texts praising the local and the natural and organic is, very much, preaching to the choir.  That doesn't score any bonus points with me - but if the book was in fact read by someone looking to be sold on an entire lifestyle, then sure! It's a good one for that.


In summary: Really helpful pictures and descriptions of various tools and techniques. Very interesting recipes.  I would buy this book as a reference and resource, or give it as a gift to krauty foodies.