From the conversations I’ve been having, I know I’m not the only one suffering from cooking boredom. I’ve got my tried and true meals that I’ve relied on to make things a little easier right now, but I’m ready to try something else now. I’ve been looking at some of the cookbooks and some food science books (oddly intriguing) available as ebooks for inspiration, and then thought…. hmm, maybe it would be helpful to share a list? And so, What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner collection came into being. If you find something you really enjoy (a recipe OR a whole book) please -feel free to share!
Last week, I interrupted our regularly scheduling blogging with a post about Book Harbor, RRPL’s personalized book recommendation service. Today, I am resuming my deep dive into making & crafting, with a little book recommendation thrown in – it’s a combo offering!
Spring has sprung and I am busy making my garden sing! I have a shady backyard and a sunny front – and I usually alternate years – one year I work a lot on the front – the next, the back. Well, this year it’s been a backyard effort – a shady, woodland type garden filled with a mix of native plants and non-native shade lovers. Last week, I took a trip to Wilmot, Ohio to the Wilderness Center, where I picked up some native plants that I had ordered in advance. I had never heard of the Wilderness Center, until an internet search brought up their plant sale. It’s a lovely area, surrounded by farms and rolling hills. I will definitely make a trip back there to visit their Interpretive Center and trails when things open up again. I bought Pennsylvania Sedge and Black Cohosh for the back garden and milkweed, liatris and rattlesnake master (such a great name) for the front. I’ve lived in my house for almost 25 years and my garden is, and will always be, a work in progress, but I love it.
I’ve also been making food – constantly it seems. I’m a member of Fresh Fork Market and we received chicken backs this week to make stock; so I threw them in a pot with some onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme (that I recently planted) and it’s simmering away right now, filling the house with an aroma that’s driving the dog a little crazy – delicious. I like to have to figure out how to cook whatever ends up in my weekly share – to cook seasonally and with whatever you have on hand instead of running to the store. I’ve also been dipping into cookbook/memoirs that I love to revisit. Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums is a memoir of her time after the magazine Gourmet folded, complete with seasonal recipes. Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, is filled with reflection and humor. And of course, check out If I Can Cook/You Know God Can: African American Food Memories, Meditations, and Recipesby playwright Ntozake Shange, who weaves together historical/sociological knowledge with personal experience of people, places and food.
Ok – onto Book Harbor! Please send us your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8-year-old Abigail’s favorite books are Harry Potter, the Who Was Series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Shannon, one of our talented Adult Reference Librarians, responded:
My first recommendation would be Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, which is the first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. It features magic, humor, and strong female characters. A princess decides that she doesn’t want to marry any of the princes who ask for her hand, so she goes to live with the dragons. I loved this series as a kid (and still do!) She could also try Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. It’s a lot like Harry Potter, but with a lot more snark. Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius who kidnaps a fairy for ransom so that he can restore his family’s fortune. Third, she could try The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi, which is the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. In this one, two children go to stay with their great aunt in the countryside and discover a world of fantastical creatures.
As you may have guessed, I love books. My home library includes a little bit of everything- classics, poetry, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and a variety of cookbooks that I’ve been gifted or picked up throughout the years. Traditionally, my home library organization mostly consisted of “put the books wherever they fit” and “let’s start stacking books under the coffee table”… but my husband and I recently purchased a new home and I now find myself with more space and shelving than ever before! I have a dedicated cookbook area in my kitchen, plenty of time to try out recipes that have long sat flagged with Post-it notes, and no plans to leave the house (except for groceries) for some time- could there be a more perfect time to experiment in the kitchen?
Today I’m sharing a few cookbooks I’ve been working my way through, along with links to some favorite recipes I have (successfully!) made myself so you can try at home.
Both The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and the follow-up Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman are fabulous, and Deb writes with such a conversational and encouraging tone, you will feel emboldened to try even her most complicated recipe. She is a home cook from NYC and her tasty comfort food is perfect for the stress we might all be feeling right now. I recommend making her one-pan farro and tomatoes– an easy dish that requires few ingredients and even fewer pots and pans!
I am totally obsessed with Sister Pie bakery. My brother-in-law lives in Detroit and whenever I visit we make sure to schedule a stop at this awesome bakery, snagging pie slices and cookies to take back with us (or consume entirely on the drive back home). I highly recommend making the sweet beet pie or the honey lemon meringue- both are crazy delicious and included in the cookbook!
Liddon’s cookbook is full of healthy vegan recipes and usually utilizes pantry staples and basic ingredients, so you don’t need to go to any specialty stores for ingredients (and nobody wants to go to a basic grocery store now, let alone a specialty store!). Try this quick pantry dal that you can make with basically whatever veggies you have around the house.
Fun fact- Gerard grew up right here in Northeast Ohio! She lives in Colorado now but there are definite Midwest influences in many of her recipes, and she particularly adores broccoli cheddar soup recipes inspired by her childhood love of Panera Bread. Her crinkle top brownies are my absolute favorite brownie recipe, but be warned you may be tempted to eat the whole pan. Exercise extreme caution.
Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
This was one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased (I own the original edition but the 10th anniversary edition has new recipes and updates!) and it is still one of my favorites. With extensive recipes for every occasion and meal, these vegan recipes are so delicious and flavorful you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate them. Time consuming and oh so delicious, I highly recommend making her eggplant moussaka with pine nut cream. It has been my go-to recipe for potlucks and parties for years, but also a great family dish for home because it will provide delicious vegan leftovers for days!
Don’t forget you can access an amazing array of cookbooks to browse as well through our digital library! And most of the cookbooks highlighted above include a recipe link to the author’s blogs, which are full of hundreds of more delicious recipes. Another great place for recipe discovery online is from the New York Times Cooking site, who are currently allowing free access to many more recipes than usual for non-subscribers.
What fun and exciting dishes or baked goods have you whipped up at home these past couple weeks? What do you have planned for April cooking? I’m hoping to try out some more Sister Pie recipes!