Eat your vegetables and barley

Enjoying the last of the summer cookbook crop

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In the coming months, there will be pie. Lots of it. Plus, buttery mashed potatoes, glazed ham, cheesy enchiladas and every kind of cookie, candy and creamy cake imaginable. Before summer sets, fortify yourself against the impending holiday season with the best the rest this season has to offer—healthy produce, wholesome snacks and cold beer.

Californians pride themselves on a farm-to-fork culinary culture, but we’re not alone in this ecological endeavor. Vedge profiles vegan recipes from the Philadelphia restaurant of the same name and its approach to vegetable-centric dishes should inspire even Golden State chefs. Vedge’s chefs/owners, Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby, run a vegan restaurant but prefer to emphasize “the food, not the diet.” It shows in the recipes, which highlight the full potential of a dish’s ingredients. Running the gambit from simple (charred shishito peppers with smoked salt) to the more intricate (olive and onion mini tarts), the recipes bounce around the globe finding worldly inspiration for the vegetables’ best applications. While you’ll find vegan mayo and vegan butter in the recipes quite often, don’t expect faux meats—Vedge never loses focus from celebrating its singular inspiration.

Kids, being kids, may balk at Vedge’s rutabagas and kimchi, but with packed lunches and after-school snacks on the horizon, it’s time to detox off popsicles and movie-theater popcorn. Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks is decidedly a product of the current culinary culture. Emphasizing seasonal and local ingredients, natural alternatives to sugar and wheat flour, and full of gluten-, nut-, and dairy-free options, the recipes make the chef look like a super parent while pleasing a crowd of kids. However, it’s Little Bites’ versatility that will earn it a prime spot on the kitchen counter. Grilled nectarine skewers with toasted coconuts could double as appetizers at a barbecue, and the simple combination in the tomato-scallion biscuits bring a lot to the table. Categorized by season, it’s easy to find a fresh, healthy, everything-free option that genuinely satisfies—and we’re in love with the idea of swapping out plastic wrap for beeswax paper.

Finally, raising a glass (or three) to the let-loose attitude of summer, there’s Berkeley local and social-media mainstay Ashley V. Routson, aka The Beer Wench. The popular beer writer has compiled her thoughts and research in The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer. A compendium of craft beer, the guide covers the brewing ingredients and history, tasting and pairing notes for a variety of styles, pouring tips, beer recipes—including a Wisconsin beer cheese soup so thick and rich it could double as a dip—and a section on beer cocktails.

Traditionalists will love the addition of beer flips (think eggnog with beer), and the Lemon Meringue Pie Flip—light rum, Belgian wit, egg, lemon syrup—is light, creamy and refreshing, perfect for the waning summer months or an outdoor screening of Grand Hotel. Routson packs a lot into the guide but her tone and approach—a mix of laid-back bar talk and science—keep it from becoming too heady. Best to save that for a nice, thick porter.

Eat your vegetables, pie is coming, and don’t forget to wash them down with a cold beer. Because, hey, summer isn’t over yet.