Speaking of Books...

In my first Read, Talk, Eat post I wrote about some good book club recipes. After I wrote that post, I came across the coolest books/cookbooks in my local library.

I've been frequenting the library lately because I love books and can't afford to buy a lot of them. I used to have an attitude about the library. Why would I want to read books that have been handled by strangers? Then I grew up and had to pay bills...needless to say, I dug out the old library card (which I got when I was in third grade...the signature is rather cute as I had just learned how to write in cursive).


I've been checking out a lot of cookbooks lately for inspiration. I found three this past week that related so well to using cooking/food to socialize and planning ahead when you cook.

So here's where I play the part of book critic:

The Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors
By: Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
You can buy it lots of places and on Amazon

Because I'm such a book lover, one look at the table of contents causes my heart to flutter. The authors have chosen 100 books and paired them with recipes that relate to each book in some way. The books range from classics to contemporary best sellers.

Sometimes the recipes match the books country of origin like the recipe for Scallion-Ginger Fried Rice given in the chapter on The Good Earth by Pearl Buck (set in China). Sometimes the recipes are for food mentioned in the book like the recipe for Roman Punch in the chapter on The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Sometimes the recipes go with a book's theme like Hot Cocoa for Chocolat (by Joanne Harris) or Honey Cakes for The Secret Life of Bees (by Sue Monk Kidd).

Each chapter includes a brief synopsis of the book, an explanation of how different foods play a role in the book, and one or two recipes based on those foods. Then the authors profile a book club that has read that book. There's even a "More Food for Thought" section in each chapter that gives suggestions for ways to pair certain foods with the book.

This book is endlessly fascinating to me because it has recipes like a cookbook, but reads like a regular book. I have a feeling I'll be buying this book before too long.

The Cooking Club Cookbook: Six Friends Show you how to Bake, Broil, and Bond
By: Katherine Fausset, Cynthia Harris, Lucia Quartararo, Lisa Singer, Rebecca Sample Gerstung, and Sharon Cohen Fredman
Again, it's available lots of places and on Amazon

This cookbook chronicles the adventures of a group of young women living in New York City. In a city that's infamous for eating out, these gals decided that they were going to use their tiny kitchens to learn how to cook...and they were in it together. They started a cooking club and learned how to cook a variety of foods based on a variety of themes. Each chapter centers around a certain cuisine or topic. There's a chapter called "Chow Bella" (Italian), "Far East Feast" (Asian), and "Oil of Ole" (Spanish). There are also chapters based on comfort food, sexy food, and lighter fare. Some of the recipes are kind of out there, but they are interesting to read. Other recipes sound easy and delicious. I really enjoy the little excerpts from the girls' emails conversations that show how each menu originated. This book really shows how cooking and food can bring people together.

Cook for the Week: Leisurely Weekend Cooking for Easy Weekday Meals By: Diane Morgan, Dan Taggart, and Kathleen Taggart
Available on Amazon

This book completely goes with my philosophy of prep-ahead cooking. It's truly awesome. Each chapter is set up with a weekend menu and then weekday meals that can be made in a flash by using things from the weekend. The recipes are sophisticated and packed full of helpful tips for cooking, choosing ingredients, varying ingredients, and storing food. They have set it up in such an easy to read and understand format. For example, they give you a recipe for roast chicken with lemon, garlic and rosemary. Their philosophy is to roast two chickens instead of one. Serve one of the roast chickens on the weekend with herbed drop biscuits, steamed broccoli, and chocolate cheesecake (um...yum.). Then take the other roast chicken and leftover broccoli and use them to make biscuit-topped chicken pie, linguine and broccoli and blue cheese, and Asian chicken salad later in the week. I am definitly planning to try some of these weekly plans because they are practical and sound delicious. So cool.

So there you have it, folks. The library is a great place to find new recipes and inspiration for your kitchen adventures...and to rent seasons of Murder, She Wrote on DVD.

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