Archive for the ‘Food and Cooking’ Category

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger, by Lisa Donovan

March 29, 2021


This is a very satisfying and moving combination of memoir and food writing. I wasn’t familiar with Lisa Donovan before this book was recommended to me – what a story… I’m not sure exactly what to say except that this made me think in some ways of Ruth Reichl’s writing. Life and food and heartbreak and cooking and family and the world all somehow wrapped up in one book and it all fits together. Find it in our catalog.

7 Ways, by Jamie Oliver

March 6, 2021

[Lesley] I really should leave the cookbook reviews to Cindy, but this one is my speed! I was immediately attracted to the structure: 18 common ingredients, each with 7 different recipes. In my house, we do use some foods over and over again: chicken, broccoli, eggs, fish, potatoes… And there are days when I feel like if I have to make another quiche, I’m going to run away from home.

Now I can make cajun coddled eggs or cauli chicken pot pie. My family occasionally eats red meat, can be picky about vegetables, needs leftovers for lunch, and includes a vegetarian. That can make dinner tricky. This cookbook is the epitome of flexibility. A steak recipe that sounds like flavors the vegetarian would enjoy? Swap out one of the other ingredients (eggplant, sweet potato, mushrooms). Like the preparation of this main ingredient but not the sauce? Find some other sauce that you can use.

The ingredients lists on the recipes are nice and short and each recipe fits on one page with a picture facing. For the most part, I found the ingredients to be things I usually have at home, though a few recipes would be a challenge for my basic pantry. Still, I felt like it would be easy to substitute something that I did have in those cases.

I made the potato lasagna which was delicious. Oh, and I had more than my baking dish would hold so I made a second one with broccoli – see, flexible! As often happens with a new recipe, I learned a few things that I would do differently, but given how yummy it was, I will definitely make it again with those tweaks.

I can also see how I could make it with different ingredients or spice combinations. I liked the technique of incorporating chopped up asparagus stalks into the sauce – the sauce stayed smooth but was thicker than with a roux alone and the flavor was much richer. That’s something I’ll use in other dishes.

I flagged a bunch of other recipes my family wants to try (swapping things in and out) including:

  • Cauli Chicken Pot Pie
  • Sweet Potato & Chicken Chop Suey
  • Eggplant & Ricotta Pasta
  • Asian Egg & Bean Salad
  • Beef & Guinness Hot Pot
  • Cajun Coddled Eggs
  • Quick Stuffed Potato Naans
  • Mushroom Toad-In-The-Hole
  • Quickest White Fish Terrine

Click here to find 7 Ways by Jamie Oliver in our catalog.

Cookbook Recommendations from Cindy!

May 5, 2020


It seems like we are all cooking a little more and hopefully enjoying it!  Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks.  These are all in our collection, so when we start up again, maybe you might want to take a look.  In the meantime, you can go to Amazon and see a sneak peak of them and see a few opening pages.  Also, if anything catches your eye, I could email the recipe to you!


How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman Find Mark Bittman’s books on Hoopla. Place a hold on the physical book in the Library.

I’ve had this book in my collection for a long time and I will hazard a guess that there is not a week since I’ve owned it that I haven’t picked it up.   It’s full of basic recipes with many suggestions for interesting twists and variations.  Sprinkled throughout the book, he has tables with hints, such as “13 fish and shellfish dishes that go great on greens” or “6 simple additions to pasta with butter and parmesan”.  In addition he has an Equipment section – a list of basics for your kitchen.  He also includes a Techniques section – Basics of Roasting and others.  It is not filled with recipes requiring obscure or hard to find gourmet ingredients.  It is for every day, creative cooking with ingredients that most people already have on hand or are available from the nearest supermarket.  

Barefoot Contessa.  How easy is that? by Ina Garten Place a hold on the physical book in the Library. Check out another book by Ina Garten on Libby/Overdrive.

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten

Well, I have to admit I love Ina Garten and Barefoot Contessa, her television show.  This was the first book of hers I purchased and it is well-used and the pages are spotted, wrinkled, and much of the cover is chewed at the edges from my birds (never leave any paper products alone with an unattended bird)!  I like everything about this book.  The layout is great, the recipes are complete on 1 page (no turning the page to get to the next step!), lovely photographs, and easily read type.  The recipes themselves are straight forward and she provides hints and suggestions for all.  This book was published in 2010 and more than a few have become staples in my kitchen.  The Lobster and Shells, Scalloped Tomatoes, and Easy Cranberry & Apple cake are a few the come to mind.  

Old-School Comfort Food by Alex Guarnaschelli Place a hold on the physical book in the Library

A favorite Chef of mine is “Iron Chef” Alex Guarnaschelli , from the Food Network (also a judge on Chopped).  One of my great joys of cookbooks is when they are storytellers.  It’s like reading a letter from a friend with stories of past events, family or just a little of this and that.  This book is filled with old family photos, copies of handwritten recipes and illustrations, and of course beautiful photos of the food.  Her introduction sets the stage with childhood memories, the long road to becoming a chef and more.  I was hooked at once.  The first chapter is “what kinds of stuff I like to use in the kitchen” and off we go!  The recipes are wonderful, well-written and easy to follow.  She also uses side-bars of old-school tips.  “Put your flour for dusting and rolling your dough into a strainer and sprinkle the rolling surface like you’re crop dusting.  An even layer of flour for rolling and you will likely use less flour for rolling and there won’t be any clumps or excess flour which can make the texture tough”  Another chapter I particularly liked was “make it from scratch for the fridge door”  things like: butter, pickles, barbecue sauce, mustard, hot sauce and others. I don’t see myself making my own butter anytime soon, but the barbecue sauce sounds great!

The Farm: Rustic recipes for a year of incredible food by Ian Knauer Find another book by Ian Knauer on Hoopla. Place a hold on the physical book in the Library.

I had never heard of Ian Knauer until I read a foreward  of his new cookbook by Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine.  I was a huge fan of the magazine and her.  Ian was a tester for recipes at the magazine and eventually promoted to a food editor (a test cook for the magazine).  He was clearly near the front of the popular “farm-to-table” movement at the time.  Quoting Reichl, “Most cookbooks are about the end product, making good food to put on your table. But a great cookbook offers you more than that – it helps you appreciate the process”.  This cookbook is all that and more.  Wonderful stories of farm life, beautiful photography.  The recipes are great with short stories about where the idea came from for the recipe, hints for its success and why.  I made a dried-fruit stuffed pork loin with apple-mustard cream for a holiday meal and it was great!  He has a nice chapter on preserving that he titles “A Jarful of Sunshine, a Bottleful of Sin”.  That made me smile.

What’s Cooking at Scamman Farm? by Stella Scamman Place a hold on the physical book at the Library.

Last, but definitely not least is the Scamman Farm cookbook.  What a treasure trove of recipes!  This is one of those cookbooks you’ve seen from churches, fire departments, schools…etc.  When my father was on the board of our local Senior Center, they did one every year.  Recipes, many passed down through the years, compiled in a loose leaf book.  This book is a gem!  There are so many great recipes and I’ve made lots of them since 2012 when I got the book.  There are great illustrations and family photos.  It has the same cute stories about the recipes and where they came from.  I’ve made the Moussaka multiple times, it’s great…just cut the ingredients in half, unless you’re feeding a hoard!

Sandwiches! More Than You’ve EVER Wanted to Know About Eating and Making America’s Favorite Food by Alison Deering

November 1, 2019


I am not known for my cooking skills. I am also not a person who really wishes to acquire a wide variety of cooking skills. I am basically just looking to feed myself and not be bored to death in the process. So for those of you that share my very lofty culinary goals may I recommend the book Sandwiches! More Than You’ve EVER Wanted to Know About Eating and Making America’s Favorite Food by Alison Deering

Part cookbook, part comic book, part infographic. Recipes are sorted by level, with level one requiring only a plate and knife to prepare, up to level five entitled “The Big Time.”  Interspersed with the wide range of sandwich recipes you’ll find “Between the Bread” pages that give you the history of classic sandwiches like the grilled cheese. This book is fun and easy to use. Definitely not your everyday average cookbook.

Space Battle Lunchtime : lights, camera, snacktion! by Natalie Riess

May 9, 2017

[Sam] Have you ever watched Iron Chef and thought, this is great but I really wish the contestants were aliens? If you are currently shouting at your screen “YES, YES, I THINK THAT ALL THE TIME!!!” this graphic novel is so for you. Don’t read any further, just take my word for it and put it on hold,  Find it Here.

Now for the rest of you, who maybe don’t spend as much energy wishing extraterrestrials would invade your favorite reality show, don’t worry this book is also for you. In fact you may have a lot in come with the main character of this book. Peony was honestly very happy being an awesome baker in an adorable earth based coffee shop. But after unwittingly accepting an offer from a strange customer she finds herself the newest contestant on Space Battle Lunchtime, a super popular alien cooking competition broadcast all over the universe.

This graphic novel is just fun. The art is bright, the story is simple, but entertaining. A fun read for kids or adults! Check it out now and you’ll be all caught up when vol. 2 arrives this summer.

The $64 Tomato, by William Alexander

November 24, 2010

[lesley]  Not a new book, but the nearly-perfect read for the winter when your garden and sometimes your mind are lying fallow.  You’ll laugh out loud at his trials and tribulations growing fruit, heirloom tomatoes and fighting off insects and woodchucks.  The included recipes are a nice bonus.

Available as ebook and audiobook on Hoopla and as ebook on Libby/Overdrive.

Title details for The $64 Tomato by William Alexander - Wait list

Hungry Monkey, by Matthew Amster-Burton

October 5, 2010


If you sometimes watch the food channel or read the food section of the newspaper, are or have been the parent of a young child, or like to laugh then you will like this book.  Amster-Burton is a food writer and self-described “foodie” who is learning about raising a picky eater (as all children are) and trying to do it on his own terms.  The things his daughter comes out with won’t surprise many parents – but they will make you laugh out loud.  Even when the 4-year-old wants to eat nothing but pizza, Amster-Burton keeps cooking interesting things and finds new ways to get her involved and trying new things.  Many of his recipes are included and were completely new to me — bonus!

Available as an ebook on Libby/Overdrive.

Hungry Monkey - ebook