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Urban Foraging: Books

November has become an annual cookbook deluge, which is both wonderful and overwhelming—how can you choose from among so many interesting titles from our local authors?

For Comfort Food: Don’t make assumptions from the title. The Everyday Wok Cookbook is comfort food at its finest—think hush puppies, spaghetti and meatballs and French toast along with scallion pancakes and pot stickers. Author Lorna Yee makes it highly tempting to ditch every other pan in the kitchen after you’ve used her buying advice to choose the wok of your dreams.

For Healthy Kids: Feeding the Young Athlete is a godsend to parents, but it also functions as a terrific introduction to nutrition for the middle school grades. Cynthia Lair, assistant professor at Bastyr, teamed up with dietician and competitive athlete Dr. Scott Murdoch to develop a book that’s both fundamental eating guide and cookbook, offering a few dozen recipes that emphasize whole grains, fresh fruits, low sugar intake and specific nutrients. You’ll never pick up doughnuts for the team again.

For Optimal Snacking: Every locavore has a dirty little secret—the pre-packaged snack food they can’t quite resist. In Real Snacks, Lara Ferroni brilliantly remakes our favorites, from sandwich cookies and ice cream novelties to every salty snack you can think of, including those addictive little fish-shaped crackers. They don’t qualify as healthy, but you can pronounce every single ingredient.

For Great Gluten-Free Treats: Jeanne Sauvage’s talents include a deep streak of researcher nerdiness, resulting in a thoughtful introduction to the various flours and powders that she combines to imitate the effects of gluten for her book Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays. Her custom baking mix is used in tasty treats that pull from holiday traditions around the globe—you’ll find stollen and panettone alongside her mom’s stuffing recipe, a luscious persimmon-spiked gingerbread and maple pecan pie.

For A Bakery-Off: Whether you prefer The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook or More from Macrina will very like depend on which of the actual bakeries you prefer. Like the bakery, the Dahlia book is loaded with excellent and very American treats—the beloved Serious Biscuit and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie, numerous muffins, all sorts of fruit and cream pies (with a completely separate chapter for tarts), and a selection of puddings, ice creams and jams, just to finish things off. By contrast, Macrina’s book has a slightly more European feel—just like the SoDo bakery on a rainy weekend—with many recipes based on their brioche dough. There are striking variations on yeast breads—herb baguette, pretzel knots, schiacciata, and a lovely no-knead loaf, and more elaborate cakes with layers of lemon curd and raspberry filling. Overall, Dahlia has more helpful, complete instructions for new bakers (it’s also a bigger overall book), while Macrina’s presents a tempting challenge if you’ve mastered the cupcake and feel ready for a more professional tutorial. 
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