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Lucid Food: Cooking for an ECO-Conscious Life [Paperback]

Louisa Shafia

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Book Description

15 Dec 2009
Green Your Cuisine with Earth-Friendly Food Choices.

With organic and seasonal cooking principles becoming ingrained in today’s kitchens, and new buzzwords including locavore and CSA steadily gaining traction, how do we integrate food politics into daily life in ways that are convenient, affordable, and delicious? Lucid Food offers more than eighty-five healthy, eco-oriented recipes based on conscientious yet practical environmental ideals. Sustainable chef and caterer Louisa Shafia demystifies contemporary food issues for the home cook and presents simple, seasonal dishes that follow nature’s cycles, such as Baby Artichokes with Fresh Chervil, Apricot Shortcake with Lavender Whipped Cream, and Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Soup. Her empowering advice includes how to source animal products ethically and responsibly, support local food growers, and reduce one’s carbon footprint through urban gardening, preserving, composting, and more. This cookbook celebrates the pleasures of savoring home-prepared meals that are healthful, honest, pure, additive-free, and transparently made, from the source to the table.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read 22 Dec 2009
By EvieIvie - Published on
My assessment of "Lucid Food" is two-fold, both as a cookbook and as a book-book. As a cookbook it has some inspiring recipes and great suggestions, but recipes like "Persian Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Rose Petals" all but defeat any locavore tendencies, and have some far-fetched, hard to secure ingredients. I love any cookbook organized by season though, and am a sucker for beautiful photography, both of which "Lucid Food" offers. If you are willing to improvise, feel secure in the kitchen, and are interested in some imaginative recipes it is a good read.

As a traditional book I'm highly impressed with the depth of knowledge, clear manner in which is is conveyed, and most of all how concise the author was able to be when discussing sometimes complicated food issues. Within 2 pages Shafia is able to both shed light on some of the issues with 'traditional' white sugar and offer a myriad of solutions/alternatives. She is able, in only a few paragraphs, to discuss why you should seek out organic bananas, discuss their seemingly imminent demise, genetic diversity, and offer alternatives. While I used to have a very good memory for irrelevant data, like page numbers for certain information in books, I've all but lost that in distraction with 'real life'. When discussing "Lucid Food" with my husband, I was able to recall page numbers for him for information that struck me - a testament to the quality of information and intriguing presentation.

If you want good food-related info, enjoy food-porn photography, or seek a new diverse set of recipes I say check "Lucid Food".
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and approachable 18 Dec 2009
By Cookbooker - Published on
What a great book! I really enjoyed the mix of recipes and eco entertaining tips. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for healthy, delicious dishes and helpful tips for having a greener kitchen (that are actually easy).
My favorite recipes include the Fall Fruit Focaccia, Fesenjan (Chicken in Pomegranate Walnut Sauce), Indian Spiced Scrambled Eggs, and Miso-Glazed Striped Bass with Shiso Cucumber Salad. The Tamarind Ketchup is a new staple condiment in my house. The gorgeous photographs bring the recipes to life and help readers to visualize the interesting combinations of ingredients suggested in the book. I have expanded my repertoire and pantry as a result. I'm looking forward to more exciting things from Lucid Food!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poised to win a spot on my shelf of beloved, dog-eared cookbooks, Lucid Food serves up nearly 100 delectable recipes. 5 Feb 2010
By Christine Emming - Published on
Gorgeous with scrolling artwork and vibrant images, Lucid Food arrives, a present, wrapped and ready. I am enamored. Also, I am hungry. Thumbing past photography for Chickpea Cakes with a verdant green Cilantro-Jalapeno Sauce, Fall Fruit Focaccia succulent with apple wedges, Crispy Yuba Rolls that look toasty brown and crunchy, ready to dip, I confess to some absent-minded lip licking. On the second pass, I'm stuck on the Ash-e-reshteh, or Persian New Year's Soup with Beans, Noodles and Herbs, all the colorful, herby bits crowded into a steaming bowl.

Louisa Shafia knows how to eat well, fashioning meals from quality produce and local fare. Nestled amid the recipes are the nuggets of valuable health information that expand Lucid Food from a mere (heavenly) cookbook to kitchen notebook. Shafia's voice, warm and genuine, weaves her decades of food knowledge throughout the book, sharing her notes on sustainability, locality, and old-fashioned DIY values.

I'll admit I am obsessed with the new wave of seasonal collections. Particularly, I enjoy the variety of produce that pop up in these, even if it isn't always available in rural Kansas. These are people bedeviled by produce. (My kind of people.) Shafia adds a rich reference to the home cook's stash, reimagining tired winter vegetables into savory staples.

Poised to win a spot on my shelf of beloved, dog-eared cookbooks, Lucid Food serves up nearly 100 delectable recipes, only about a dozen featuring fish or meat. (It's not frowned upon, don't worry about harsh words; it's simply not the focus here.) There aren't photos of every recipe, but the photos included showcase lush preparations of plump, perfectly-cooked veggies with occasional animal proteins tucked in.

Shafia is one of the rare chefs able to communicate her intensity about quality, seasonal ingredients in amiable terms. No lectures here, simply facts and considerable inspiration for making dinnertime shine. And extraordinary food, with a little help from Shafia, speaks for itself.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, but impractical recipes 2 Feb 2013
By AI - Published on
I was really excited about this book. The concept sounds great, it looks beautiful, and I was looking forward to making some environmentally friendly recipes. However, I have only succeeded in making one recipe from this book (a cucumber and pomegranate salad), because everything else is just so incredibly impractical. Almost every recipe requires an obscure ingredient--agar-agar powder, for example, or yuba. I suppose for some of them you could try to find substitutes, but the obscure ingredient is often the "eco-friendly" one, and replacing it defeats the purpose of the cookbook. If you regularly shop at Middle Eastern and Asian markets or like to keep these odd ingredients on hand, this is the cookbook for you! Otherwise, I would give it a pass.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eco-Yummy! 1 Sep 2010
By bortzilla - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was given this book as a gift - I don't think anybody has ever given me a cookbook before. Most of my cookbooks have been picked up second hand, and they are usually something I poke my nose into for occasional guidance. Not so much with this one. It's a book I've found in my hands in my living room (not the kitchen!) reading and enjoying while making occasional "ooh" and "ahh" sounds. Kind of strange. These are sounds I tend to make looking through travel guides and backpacking magazines. Which is kind of what this book reminds me of - something that gets me excited to see and do new things, and plan new adventures.

Of course, planning a dinner is a bit easier than an expedition, but it's still exciting. The recipes are fun, exotic and from what I've managed to create - Delicious. I'm pretty far from a gourmet chef. My stove top usually looks like something has exploded on it. But even a bungling bonehead like me has been able to make some glorious meals from this book.
[wow, I used the word 'glorious' and I don't feel like I'm exaggerating!]

Sometimes the ingredients listed can seem a little intimidating - especially if you aren't sure what they are. But don't worry about it, go with the flow and make substitutions for things you can't find. Part of the fun has been learning about new foods I've never cooked with before.
I took a stab at the "chicken paillars with tomato puree over arugula" (page 156) the other day. Oh man, it turned out so wonderful I'm not even sure what superlative to use here. I'll go with YOWZA! A word that describes the look on my girlfriend's face as we bit into this dish and sat there smiling at each other - simply amazed that We had created a dish so moist and succulent and tantalizing and - well you get the idea. It was damn good, and pretty to look at!

I'll stop here. I'm a fan. Buy local, eat local is a great idea. Buy local, eat local and make it delicious is an even better idea. As I lack creativity when it comes to gifts, I'm here buying another copy. I've been using this as my default gift book this year. Thanks to a good friend who gave me this book, I'm making my other friends think I've got taste and style. Whether that is true or not, doesn't matter. I've got my own copy of Lucid Food, which means I'll have something amazing for dinner tonight.
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