THE GLASS PANTRY BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN

It can be a little mortifying to discover that a cookbook author – whose name you only recognize from a canning/preserving cookbook—has written nearly thirty cookbooks plus five gardening books as well.  When I began Googling “Georgeanne Brennan” I was pretty astonished.  (Sort of brings to mind my amazement when I first began reading about and collecting Marguerite Patten’s cookbooks in order to write an article about her—first for the Cookbook  Collectors Exchange – and more recently, for my blog.) Not only is Ms. Brennan a most prolific cookbook author – she’s Californian as well.  It’s almost like me discovering Marion Cunningham  and wondering where have I been for the past forty-something years!

OK, all this being said. I first wrote a review of The Glass Pantry for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.  It remains one of my favorite cookbooks of this genre; I have a special interest in canning/preserving cookbooks and buy everything I ever find on the subject.  The Glass Pantry is easily one of the finest cookbooks devoted to this topic that I have ever owned.

Look what a few other famous cookbook authors had to say about the Glass Pantry:

“Whatever Georgeanne Brennan decides to do, she does it with wit, style and true creativity. These recipes are wonderful. I can hardly wait to try them all” – Maggie Waldron, author of COLD SPAGHETTI AT MIDNIGHT.

Debroah Madison, author of THE SAVORY WAY and THE GREENS COOKBOOK wrote “Georgeanne’s new collection of recipes are so seductive that I find myself eyeing my quince and apricot trees daily in anticipation of building my own glass pantry…”

State the publishers, “Capture the delicate taste of springtime tarragon in a flavored vinegar. The robust flavor of summer sun-dried tomatoes, the elegant bouquet of a winter vin d’orange…THE GLASS PANTRY contains simple recipes for sumptuous jams, preserves, marmalades, jellies, conserves, brandied fruit, confits, mustards, pickles, chutneys, infused wines and flavored oils and vinegars, all based on the freshest seasonal ingredients…”

In the introduction to THE GLASS PANTRY, Ms. Brennan tells us, “I have strong memories of a certain cut-glass dish with a round fitted lid and a prism knob that my grandmother used for the candied walnuts and grapefruit peel she used at Christmas time. We lived in Southern California in what was then a small beach town, and my grandmother lived inland, fifty miles distant. When she came to visit us, she always brought shopping bags heavy with mason jars filled wit preaches, pears, plums, apricots and green beans, all bearing stickers carefully labeled in script with the date of canning –month and year—and contents.

However, the grandmother’s offerings apparently went unappreciated and uneaten and it seems no one shared her grandmother’s enthusiasm for putting food by. But, my hues is, those canning genes were lurking somewhere in Georgeanne…for after she moved to a French countryside, where almost everyone put up food, she began to appreciate the thrill of preserving. Few people, she writes, had refrigerators [in the French countryside] and no one had freezers. They did have CAVES and this is where they stored their own hams, pates, and sausages, and virtually all the young married     women, like their mothers, dried fruits and vegetables, prepared their own olives, made jams and jellies form the wild berries gathered in the mountains. No one attempted to preserve large quantities, however—they only put up the very best.

Although Georgeanne only lived in France for a few years, the experience was indelibly etched in her mind and it changed the way Ms. Brennan felt about putting up food. Lucky for us, the result is THE GLASS PANTRY.

Like Deborah Madison, for many years I eyed my pomegranates, fig, and peach trees, mentally urging them to hurry up with this year’s crop, so I could experiment with some of the great recipes in THE GLASS PANTRY. We had a concord grape arbor, and not only fig and peach trees—but also kumquat, olive, nectarine, and quince trees, avocado and macadamia nut trees.

In 2008, however, we moved to the high desert of the Antelope Valley and planted our first fruit trees in a section of my back yard. But—fortunately—where I live we are able to take advantage of huge strawberry and Bing cherry sales when the fruit is in season. And my girlfriend, Nora’s, sister Carmen has been bringing me her overflow of apples and Asian pears for the past couple of years. I also enjoy making liqueurs and cordials and have a gallon jar of Bing cherry liqueur aging in a small cupboard under my laundry room sink. No, no caves!  As my fruit trees mature, I’ll be able to make new recipes from the fruits of my desert trees.  THE GLASS PANTRY.

From her website: Georgeanne Brennan is an award-winning cookbook author and journalist who has won national acclaim for her evocative and lyrical writing about food and gastronomy. Her expertise ranges from farming and agriculture to history and food lore. A charming and inspiring teacher, as well as a writer, she captivates and imbues her students with her enthusiasm and knowledge about the pleasures of food and the table. Ini recent years she has formed a consulting firm, Evans & Brennan, with Ann M. Evans, that specializes in changing school lunch.

Georgeanne Brennan grew up in southern California and was educated at San Diego State University, the University of Aix-Marseille in Provence, and the University of California, San Diego, where she earned a Master’s Degree in History. In 1970 she and her husband returned to southern France with their small daughter (their son was born there) and bought an old farmhouse where they made and sold goat cheese, and raised and sold feeder pigs for two years before taking teaching jobs in Northern California, although they returned to France at least once a year thereafter.

In 1982 Georgeanne and a partner, Charlotte Glenn, started Le Marché Seeds, a national mail-order specialty vegetable seed company. With customers all over the United States, including emerging organic market growers, Le Marché was featured in such magazines as Family CircleMetropolitan HomeOrganic Gardening and Vogue, as well as in the food and garden sections of numerous newspapers.

Out of her these activities came her first book, The New American Vegetable Cookbook (1984) co-authored with Isaac Cronin and Charlotte Glenn. Since then, she has written POTAGER: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style, which has been called a modern classic by Patricia Wells, published into both French and German, and was also a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award, as was her next book, The Glass Pantry; Preserving Flavors. Shortly thereafter she won a James Beard award for her cookbook memoir, The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence. Her book, Aperitif, won a Julia Child award and Savoring France (the Series) a Versailles International Cookbook award.

The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook (2000), which celebrates herbs and the Mediterranean way with olive oil, was followed in 2001 by Olives, Capers, and Anchovies: The Secret Ingredients of Mediterranean Cooking, (published in Dutch in 2002) both from Chronicle Books. These were followed by Great Greens, also from Chronicle Books. In 2006, she brought to life Dr. Seuss’s quirky take on food with The Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook (Random House 2006). Her more recent book is Gather, Memorable Meals for Entertaining Throughout the Seasons. In 2007 her memoir, A Pig in Provence (Chronicle Books, 2007; paperback Harcourt 2008) was published to much acclaim, and has been printed in both Dutch and Polish.

The Davis Farmers’ Market Cookbook, published last spring, 2012, is Georgeanne’s latest achievement.

In addition to her books Brennan writes regular features for The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper’s food section and has contributed to Fine Cooking, Bon Appétit, Cooking Pleasures, The New York Times, Garden Design, Metropolitan Home, Horticulture, and Organic Gardening. She has been featured in Food and Wine, Gourmet, and Sunset magazines.

Georgeanne lives with her husband on their small farm in Northern California. They have four children.

GEORGEANNE’S COOKBOOK TITLES:

Williams-Sonoma Cheese: The Definitive Guide to Cooking with Cheese

Gather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining Throughout the Seasons

A Pig in Provence

Holiday Entertaining

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

Christmas Entertaining

Great Greens

Olives, Anchovies, and Capers: The Secret Ingredients of Mediterranean Cooking

The Food and Flavours of Haute Provence

Aperitif: Recipes for Simple Pleasures in the French Style

Potager: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style

Savoring France: Recipes and Reflections on French Cooking (The Savoring Series)


The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook: Fresh and Savory Flavors From the Garden

Other Cookbooks by Georgeanne Brennan:

 

Gardening Books by Georgeanne Brennan:

Georgeanne has her own website: www.GeorgeanneBrennan.com, Many of her books can also be ordered through her website.

If you are interested in canning or preserving (or ‘putting food by’ as they say in the Midwest, THE GLASS PANTRY would be a good introduction to this process. You can find the book on Amazon.com starting at 13 cents for a pre-owned copy and $1.87 for hardcover.  Alibris.com has copies starting at 99c.  And now I have to start searching for some of Georgeanne’s other titles! Who knew?

Happy cooking! The next thing I am going to concoct is a batch of Vin d’Orange!

–Review by Sandra Lee smith 

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