on Mark Bittman. In case you don't know who he is, let me first direct you to his blog -- Bitten -- which is in *no way* related to vampires (sorry to disappoint). No, he's a food writer for the NYTimes.
And he's awesome.
A few years ago when my love of food, cooking & health led me to an exploration of organic, local, and seasonal eating, I bumped into the writing of Mark Bittman. I purchased his award winning book, How To Cook Everything, started reading his blog and recently purchased his new book -- Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes. While you might call this a cookbook, there is an extensive discussion of food policy and it's affect on all of us in the first half of the book which flows almost seamlessly into the "recipe" section.
The discussion is thought provoking and just might change your eating habits. He makes an excellent argument for eating less meat and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you've been thinking about these things, as I have, I think you will enjoy reading this book.
Then there are the recipes. Bittman is the kind of no nonsense cook that I identify with. He gives you the feeling that cooking isn't some big, difficult task, but rather a simple, enjoyable part of life that need not be stressful. He encourages you to throw together the best, freshest ingredients you can find and relax. These aren't complex recipes that require you to go out and purchase fancy ingredients, instead he gives you a blueprint for making do with what you have.
For example, in the "basics" section he explains how to cook just about any veggie, any way -- in less than three pages. Then he teaches you how to make a basic vinaigrette, cook pretty much any grain without fuss, and make a pot of beans. He includes customizable recipes for salsa, tomato sauce, stock, bread and so much more.
This is a wonderful guide to eating and thinking about what we eat, and if you can't get enough, I recommend his book How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food which I have any use all the time. It is an excellent resource that I find invaluable.