Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘good food

I enjoy cooking and baking, and I especially love trying new recipes. During the nine weeks of lockdown here in Spain, I’ve had plenty of time to go through my cookbooks and try recipes I haven’t made before. Needless to say, we’ve been eating very well. I’ve collected cookbooks since I was very young and have a wonderful assortment. Some have been gifts and others I have bought myself. I managed a chain of kitchen stores in the 1980s where we sold cookbooks, so I was privy to some of the best. I was thinking about my special cookbooks and why I like them so much. So I decided to share my favourite six with you.

Why do I keep going back to these six?

Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East & North Africa by Habeeb Salloum is my go-to cookbook. I use this one most of all. I visited the United Arab Emirates twenty years ago and fell in love with the food. When I returned from my trip, I looked for recipes from that part of the world. A friend worked in a bookstore and recommended this one. In fact, she bought it with her employee discount so it didn’t cost me as much. She has since passed away, so every time I use it I think of her and my amazing trip. The recipes are easy to follow and each one has a short explanation or story attached, which I love. As an aside, a few years ago one of my short stories was included in an anthology in which Habeeb Salloum was also featured. How cool is that!

The Vegetable Market Cookbook, Classic Recipes From Around the World by Robert Budwig, was given to me as a gift from a special cousin who knew I was a vegetarian and that I liked international recipes. The book is divided into Italian, French, Moroccan, Thai, Indian, Mexican & Guatemalan, and Californian recipes. The dishes are made from fresh fruits and vegetables you would buy at the market. Everything I’ve made from this book has been delicious and the drawings inside are delightful. This recipe book is a pleasure to sit and read over and over.

The Lighthearted Cookbook, by Anne Lindsay, is endorsed by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. This was a book we sold in the kitchen stores. The recipes are low fat and heart-healthy, and also delicious. My hubby’s favourite stew comes from this book, which has a great assortment of meat, vegetable, dessert, and baked goods recipes. This one is used a lot in our house and has the stains to prove it!

New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by The Moosewood Collective is another cookbook we sold in the kitchen stores and was very popular. In the early 1980s, vegetarianism was just starting to get popular and many people didn´t know how to make a veggie meal interesting. This cookbook proves that vegetables do not have to be boring. It has been updated many times since I bought this one. I love the whimsical photographs interspersed throughout. I have often given this book as a gift. It makes a perfect bridal shower or housewarming gift.

Company´s Coming series of cookbooks by Jean Paré were best sellers in my kitchen stores. I couldn’t keep them on the shelves. And no wonder; they are filled with simple, easy to make recipes using ingredients readily available. I have a number of these cookbooks, but the one I use the most is Muffins and More. So much so it is almost falling apart. When we feel a need for a snack, I whip up a batch of muffins, a loaf, or a coffee cake from this gem of a recipe book. It never disappoints. Because I sold her books in the stores I managed, I was invited to a reception celebrating the sale of 1 million books, where I got to meet this lovely lady who turned her down-home recipes into an empire! She has since sold over 30 million copies and she is as down to earth as her cookbooks!

The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook by Alice Laden & R. J. Minney was a gift from a dear friend who picked it up for me when she visited The Shaw Festival in Stratford, Ontario. I love this little book compiled by GBS’s cook/housekeeper who ensured the great playwright always had tasty vegetarian meals. GBS became a vegetarian at age twenty-five and remained extremely healthy until he passed away at age ninety-four. I often make the Nut and Rice Roast from this book for my Christmas dinner.

There is no love sincerer than the love of good food. – George Bernard Shaw

Of course, I have many other cookbooks, recipes clipped out of magazines and newspapers, some from my mother, and others scribbled on bits of paper.

I would love to hear about your favourite cookbooks.

There are many good restaurants in our Spanish coastal town but I find the best places seem to be tucked away in the country. We recently took a thirty minute drive with our neighbours to a small place called Rebate, for lunch. The food was delicious and the tranquil setting sublime. Indoor and outdoor seating was available. Of course we chose to eat on the terrace over looking Mediterranean trees and shrubs.

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The view from the terrace

Everyone else ordered the Menu del Dia (menu of the day) which came with a bowl of refreshing gazpacho and an amazing assortment of tapas for starters, which the others kindly shared with me.

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I forgot to take a picture of my main course but you can believe me when I say it was well presented and very tasty. I ordered the salmon with a mango sauce on a bed of bright green beans surrounded by grilled aubergines and yoghurt, from the a la cart menu. I ate every crumb. The others enjoyed their main course as well.

Dessert came with the menu of the day, and once again I was invited to share the exquisite assortment.

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We were treated to live music.

 

Rebate, formally a hamlet with a handful of residences and a little chapel, was taken over by the Van Iseghem family during the 1960’s where it became a citrus farm before they converted the original houses into the restaurant in 2002. The lovely chapel remains and is often used for weddings, the reservoir is now a duck pond and one of the out houses is a small gift shop. There are a couple of waterfalls on the premises and local animals can be seen wandering about.

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Inside the small church, often used for weddings

It was everything I love, good food in pleasant surroundings. We will return to this spot.

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