Books Are Still The Best


Christmas Day evening, after all the festivities of the day were behind us, I curled up in my spot on the couch and took Good to the Grain into my lap. It was a gift I had been hoping for.

I had heard a lot about this book and had seen recipes others had tried. I had no idea how beautiful this book is, however. During the long stretch of vacation days, I lingered over the beautiful photographs. I also read through the whole book.

When I reached the end, I realized something. While there are plenty of recipes to be had online, the isolated recipes don't capture an author's, and in this case, a baker's vision. They can offer a sampling, but alone they are only part of the story.

The chapters are organized by the type of grain or flour because the author envisioned the home baker buying a bag of flour and working their way through it, trying the recipes in that particular chapter.

I have started at the beginning with wheat. These Sweet Potato Muffins were made with sweet potatoes from the farmer's market, purchased on a cold, Saturday morning, when it was uncomfortable for me to fold back my glittens to pay for my purchases, and the farmer was struggling to add up the amount on her calculator without her gloves on.

I followed this recipe without changing a thing. I like to do that the first time through. I also could tell, however, that each ingredient was so carefully chosen to create a desired texture and taste, that I dared not substitute the raisins in my pantry for the Mejool dates called for, or use all buttermilk in place of a little additional yogurt.

These muffins are almost custard-like on the inside, which may be why they deflated when I took them out of the oven like popovers do. They are sweet, but not overly so. The nutmeg comes through, and as suspected, raisins wouldn't have offered the same sweetness and flavor that the dates provide.

I hope you'll be able to enjoy this book, as I am now. I've already given these cookies and this bread a try, and you might want to as well.