Appetite: 3 DIY books for spring

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Spring is here, in fits and starts, and it's a time for fresh inspiration. Whether you're intrigued by curing fish, bottling homemade condiments, growing pineapple guava on your rooftop, or baking Chinese almond cookies, here's some special books to walk you through it.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
One of the best (comprehensive but approachable) books I've ever seen in the D.I.Y. food realm, Karen Solomon's Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It covers a wide range of possible projects with appealing, natural photos. Solomon (a former Guardian alum, by the way), presents instructions and storage details for brining olives and kimchee, bottling dressings and mustard, preserving bacon or jerky, making jams. Popsicles have their own delectable section -- coconut cream pops, anyone?

I'm delighted to see a drink section that leads you through spirit infusions, and brewing your own Jamaican ginger beer or Chai. Candies, butter, cheeses, marshmallows, chips, pasta, there's nothing you can't make. With the charming Solomon as your guide, it all becomes accessible.
P.S. Don't miss the April 29 Jam and DIY session with Karen at 18 Reasons.

A Little Piece of Earth: How to Grow Your Own Food in Small Spaces by Maria Finn
Maria Finn lives the charmed life on a houseboat in Sausalito, growing her own food... and is a fine tango dancer to boot. Thankfully, she's sharing her food knowledge in her just-released book, A Little Piece of Earth, a clean, straightforward resource for growing your own in small spaces (i.e. city dwellers). It could be strawberries or vanilla orchids in a window, passion fruit or olive trees on a rooftop, fig trees or serrano peppers on your balcony, bok choy or pea shoots on the back patio. Community gardening and foraging each get their own section, and there are recipes to preserve the lemons or candy the kumquats you're growing, or use those foraged morels. Finn gets you thinking literally outside the box about endless possibilities for growing exotic produce within apartment limits.

Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu
Bay Area local, Anita Chu, knows sweets. She's honed her sweet tooth at pastry school and on her Dessert First blog. Her Field Guide to Candy is a thick, pocket-sized book jam-packed with recipes on chocolate, fruits and jellies, marshmallows, fudge, caramels, toffee, pralines, and peanut brittle... to name just a few. Chu goes well beyond American candy classics to recipes like daifuku mochi, a sweet rice Japanese dumpling, or burfi, a fudge-like confection native to India and Pakistan and made with ghee (Indian clarified butter). With concise, step-by-step directions and pictures of necessary baking tools next to each step, Chu does her best to make candy-making easy, even sharing a bit history behind each sweet.

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