Canning and Preserving: Reading at the Book Cellar

I am obsessed with The Book Cellar bookstore. Not only is it an excellent place to peruse for books, cards, and other interesting bits, not only do they have a great café, but also they have wonderful events. I have been to book readings of all types there – it is such a nice place to meet your neighbors and learn at the same time.

Imagine my delight when I looked at May’s calendar (link to month calendar) and saw that the Book Cellar was hosting a reading of Paul Virant’s new cookbook The Preservation Kitchen. I’m not sure if you have heard of Chef Paul – he has a lovely restaurant in Warm Springs that received a Michelin star last year, and his second restaurant, Perennial Virant is in Lincoln Park right at the end of Lincoln. It gets lots of great reviews both from me and, ahem, the real reviewers.

Chef Paul’s new book features, as the title suggests, lots of recipes and stories about food preservation, eating foods in season, and then preserving what is in abundance. At the book reading Chef Paul spoke about growing up and preserving foods with his grandmothers. He recalled the excitement of opening up something that had been made and then put away for sometime in the future. His book offers photos and very specific directions on how to preserve food of all types – pickles, preserves, and more.

The photos in the book are also lovely and were actually all shot at the restaurant as well as events – like a farm dinner in Southern Illinois.

We also had the opportunity to try some of Chef Paul’s preserves with fresh yogurt and a shortbread cookie. Yum! It is not every day that you get a chance to chat with a well-known chef (he has been on TV and written about far and wide!) let alone get a chance to meet other folks in the neighborhood who share your interests.

I took my sister and 2 friends with me – the Book Cellar is so low key and welcoming, everyone loved it. Imagine my surprise when I unexpectedly saw another friend there – now I know we share a love of food. Who knows, perhaps we can get together and make some lovely pickles to enjoy all year. Whatever happens, I’m starting with tomatoes. Summer foods in Winter. I can’t wait!

Want to start a canning club? Get together and share your experiences and recipes with others? Let us know at ForwardChicago – we’ll get a group started!

Oh, and the Book Cellar – if you haven’t been there recently – get back – it is a gem!

– Karen Kolb


Forward Chicago, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, envisions our neighborhoods as model communities for people of all ages, where residents can age in place while remaining active, engaged and influential.