These days with the interwebs and my trusty Google Reader, I don't often buy cookbooks. Basically if I need to know how to do something, I can find it somewhere online.
There are, however, a few exceptions. I was tickled to get the Pioneer Woman's cookbook this past Christmas, though I haven't cooked much from it yet, much to B's disappointment (but my waistline thanks me).
Another one I couldn't resist was "Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it". I mean, how can you resist a book that exclaims "Make your own bacon, cheese, marshmallows and more!" right on the cover!!! I'm only human.
This book is packed full of DIY recipes, clear and detailed how-tos and lots of beautiful pictures. It covers everything from simple homemade condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup to staples like making your own butter and ricotta cheese. It also includes things for the more adventurous like making your own sausage and bacon, which I admit I have yet to try. It also offers a variety of drinks and sweets, including my favorite: homemade marshmallows.
If your only experience with marshmallows are the 'jet puffed' grocery store kind, then do yourself a favor and try your hand at making them. Or at least find someone else who will make them and share ;) Melted into a mug of hot chocolate... they absolutely blow the store bought stuff away.
The recipe is quite simple, calling only for unflavored gelatin, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla... who knew such simple ingredients could be turned into fluffy white clouds of deliciousness?? Plus, as with most DIY recipes, knowing exactly what went into the recipe makes it that little bit tastier. The store bought stuff often includes emulsifiers and stabilizer and all manner of other strange things.
It does take some work, mind you... magical kitchen fairies don't deliver them ready-made (sadly enough!), but it's nothing too complicated. A bit of boiling and whisking and then letting the whole mess set. If you take no other advice I offer you on this blog, take this advice: DO NOT use a hand mixer for making marshmallows!!! I burned the motor on a perfectly good hand mixer a few years back making a batch. This is one time that nothing but some serious horsepower will do, so either dust off the stand mixer or find someone who will lend you one.
If you've ever wanted to try your hand at making things like beef jerky, potato chips or graham crackers, get yourself a copy of this book. Or, perhaps check out the second installment, "Can it, Bottle it, Smoke it".... I may have to go get myself that one this weekend ;) Or maybe just make some marshmallows... hot chocolate weather is on it's way soon!