Cookbooks for preserving, cooking, reading

Putting Food By, Janet Greene, editor, (Brattleboro, Vt.: Stephen Greene Press. $18.95. soft cover, $10.95). To ''put by'' is an old country expression meaning to save something you can't use now, for the time when you will need it. That's what the new edition of this classic is all about - putting by the foods from the garden when it is most plentiful.

Originally published in 1973, it covers all the good ways to preserve by canning, freezing, drying, or root-cellaring. Updating includes ratings of new equipment, new recipes and techniques, and new ways of preserving with less sugar and salt.

A bellwether in food preservation, it includes everything you need to know to preserve foods safely and easily.

Pamela Asquith's Fruit Tart Cookbook (New York: Harmony Books. $12.95) could not be more timely in the United States. It has been a marvelous year for berries and fruits, probably in many areas because of the abundance of damp weather.

Whatever the reason for a delicious crop of fruits, the season is here and along with it is a beautiful book for someone who longs to make some perfect fruit tarts.

There are recipes for more than 15 pastry cream fillings such as chocolate, custard, and praline. There are more than half a dozen glazes and more than 50 recipes for tarts.

Kiwi, quince, persimmon, and fig as well as the more familiar common favorites such as peach, apple, orange, and cherry are among those baked in tarts.

The author has good knowledge about proper flours and fruits and baking equipment. She describes the varieties of fresh or poached fruits and how to combine them, with step-by-step instructions and pictures so that you can learn to create fruit tarts that look and taste better than store-bought.

The Cooking School Murders, by Virginia Rich, (New York: E.P. Dutton. $11.95) is a really neat mystery story with a new sleuth who shows promise as competition for Miss Marple, Peter Whimsey, and other favorites of mystery story readers.

Eugenia Potter is the dignified but down-to-earth, proper-but-never-prissy, independent, 60-year-old lady detective.

In a small-town setting 12 people gather for the first and only session of a gourmet cooking class. The next day the enrollment is short three people and Mrs. Potter is suspicious.

The mystery is solved after a series of dinners described in enough detail to make you want the recipes. Some are on the inside cover.

The book is the first of a series of culinary crime novels with the same forthright, delightful, likable lady heroine.

The Findhorn Family Cookbook, by Kay Lynne Sherman, (New York: Shambala Books , distributed by Random House. $7.95) is a result of enthusiastic response from the many visitors from all over the world who visit the Findhorn Foundation in northeast Scotland. This international community founded in 1962 is famous for its natural vegetarian foods that are never boring.

The book contains recipes for barley, vegetable, and garlic soups; sourdough and flower-seed bread and bagels; main course dishes such as cheese souffles and spinach dumplings; and delicious cakes and pies.

Kay Lynne Sherman taught natural-food cooking classes in California, and she has been a cook and resident of Findhorn since 1978.

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