EDITOR’S NOTE – This is part of a series featuring Salina Public Library staff and guest bloggers’ recommendations for summer reading. We hope these lists will help you find your next book!
Food, glorious food! I don’t consider myself a “foodie” but do enjoy cooking, canning and baking.
What I really love is to leaf through cookbooks — admiring the photographs and copying recipes I’ll probably never try. I’ve even started my own cookbook with favorite recipes and stories — started is the key word here. I started it when my daughter Jillian was a senior in high school. She is now 28, and it is still not complete!
My mother was a wonderful cook and she passed her abilities down to her three daughters. Growing up in the Kansas the variety of our groceries was limited. We had beef and chicken and pork, lots of potatoes and canned vegetables. It wasn’t fancy but good. Fried chicken, Swiss steak, pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy — I think I could live on mashed potatoes and gravy. We recently came across her copy of a recipe for “Pineapple Pecan Pie” she received from Thelma DeBey. It is such a family favorite we are going to have it framed.
But cookbooks as literature? They are now my favorite picture books and there’s even a grown-up golden book – “The Golden Book of Desserts” — full of trifles and tiramisus, crisps, cobblers and clafoutis. And there’s one just titled “Pie” with 300 recipes for homemade pie. Heaven in a 600 page book! How can you not be inspired?
The library is overflowing with cookbooks allowing me to check out the latest food fads, be it cupcakes or the ultimate dandelion cookbook. Almost every cuisine is at my fingertips and I can travel around the globe, sampling fare from countries I’ve always longed to visit. There’s even a National Geographic book of “Food Journeys of a Lifetime – 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe.” Time to get a passport!
Closer to home, the Pioneer Woman cookbooks provide step-by-step, picture-by-picture instruction. You can’t go wrong. And one recipe I’ve wanted to try is in the “Spirit of the West” cookbook. It’s pitchfork fondue – just need a crowd, clean pitchforks and someone to bankroll the cost of 24 T-bone steaks.
Did you know your favorite fiction might be the inspiration a cookbook? Although many mysteries come with recipes included, if you head to the 641 section you can find the “Cat Who Cookbook,” the “Mitford Cookbook” as well as the “Tuscan Sun Cookbook” bringing your favorite characters to a whole new delicious light.
Those who have been in the food industry have given us the benefit of their experiences in so many wonderful memoirs and exposes.
Ruth Reichl was a food critic for The New York Times and details that secret life in “Garlic and Sapphires” but her earlier works, “Tender at the Bone” and “Comfort Me with Apples” describe growing up around the table and how it led her around the world. Calvin Trillin, another food writer, grew up in Kansas City and his columns for the New Yorker fill several amusing food related volumes.
Some of my other favorites include…
“Fortune Cookie Chronicles” by Jennifer 8 Lee
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver
“Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell
“Bones, Butter and Blood” by Gabrielle Hamilton
“Chicken and Egg” by Janice Cole
So if the summer heat gets you down, relax on the porch swing with a cold glass of lemonade and check out some of these wonderful tributes to food.