Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Homemade Grenadine and Books on Food

Today I want to talk about reading and homemade grenadine. The two are related because I have spent the past few days with a stomach bug, which led to lots of reading and drinking what I now call a sick person's cocktail, homemade grenadine and ginger ale.

Even when I'm not sick, my life is consumed by reading. On average, I read two books a week. I love books. I love the way they smell. The way they feel in my hands. I love that a good book can consume us and take us into a world we don't want to leave. Sometimes I find myself about to tell Blake a story about what happened in my book, forgetting that it didn't happen to me in real life. I could go on and on about the books I have loved but today I want to provide you with a short list of books I have loved about food. Many great ones have been written exploring a wide range of topics. These are my favorites: 

  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver- Kingsolver is a wonderful writer. Flight Behavior her most recent novel is excellent. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle captured my heart and changed the way I eat. She takes us to the root of food literally and reminds us to connect with where our food comes from. Her message about food parallels a lovely story about a year in the life of her family. 
  • Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford- Buford takes us inside the kitchen of famed chef and Food Network star, Mario Batali, and shows us what it's like to work on the line and survive in a fast paced restaurant kitchen. He then travels to Italy to learn how to make pasta and butcher a pig, all the while entertaining us with his knack for storytelling. 
  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain- I love Anthony Bourdain. His sarcasm, rock and roll attitude, and sheer love of food have endlessly entertained me on his TV shows, Parts Unknown and No Reservations. Bourdain has done and seen it all in the world of restaurants, travel, and eating food. In Kitchen Confidential, he takes us along for the ride to explore the gritty life of a chef. 
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan-One would be remiss to talk about food writers and not mention Michael Pollan. His book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, is another must read. In Cooked, Pollan works as an apprentice with a pit master, a famed baker, master fermentors, and a chef from Chez Panisse. Along the way he takes us back to the fundamentals of cooking with fire, water, air, and the earth. It's a very interesting read for anyone who loves to cook. 
This post promises to be the longest I have written yet, but if you are still with me, which I hope you are, then let's make homemade grenadine. It's magic. You know what I'm talking about. The red liquid that we pour into cocktails and shirley temples but none of us really know what it's made of. I do now. Pomegranates. And when you cook down pomegranate juice and make your own syrup, you will wonder how you have gone your whole life without such a delightful treat. Give it a try. It's fun and you can make tasty drinks. Nondrinkers and kids will love grenadine and ginger ale. If you enjoy a good cocktail, it's uses are endless. I'm not even a cocktail drinker but I thought it was delicious in combination with vodka and soda water. Have fun with it!

Homemade Grenadine 
From The Kitchn

1/4 cup sugar
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
1/4 of a lemon, juiced
A couple splashes of orange bitters (optional)

Combine sugar and pomegranate juice in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil for 5 minutes or until it has thickened.

Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Allow to cool and enjoy in combination with your favorite drink.

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