Friday, September 6, 2013

What, You Don't Read Cookbooks?

There is nothing more satisfying than finishing a good book. Except maybe finishing a book packed full of scrumptious, tantalizing recipes and photos that leaves you hungry for more. 

Since becoming an "adult" I've amassed quite the collection of cookbooks and my husband and I have been adding to it since we got married. We just bought two new books: Where There's Smoke: Simple, Sustainable, Delicious Grilling by Barton Seaver (is that not the coolest name?) and Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes by Joy Wilson

I plowed through both books, cover-to-cover, in one sitting, because yes, I read cookbooks. They're fun! And easy! And delicious! And they often make me get up off my butt so I can make something. Now I've been day dreaming all day of chocolate cake and banana pancakes. And a good steak. 

In recent years cookbooks have become a thing of beauty. Gone are the days of list style recipes and few pictures. Cookbooks are now brimming with personality through the use of anecdotes, glossy photos, and general advice. I love to bake - don't misunderstand me, I wouldn't buy them if I didn't actually cook - but reading the tidbits sprinkled throughout a cookbook is a great experience. It's like reading someone's memoir or following your favorite chef around for a day. 

J plucked this from the shelf at Barnes & Noble last week and we both promptly fell in love. Seaver's book is chock-full of grilling, entertaining, and general eating tips. Seems pretty standard, but in a world full of quick and "easy" pre-packaged food products, the information in this book becomes unique. All of Seaver's cooking tips and recipes use the grill to prepare multiple-course meals. I have very little experience grilling - having bought in to the idea that it's a man's job - and I found all of the advice in this book novice friendly. Seaver gives readers the confidence and tools to try new, unexpected ingredients. Each section begins by breaking down preconceived notions about the subject, be it oysters, grilling techniques, pig parts, or chicken, and then provides information and resources from which you can grow as a cook. Though I have yet to use a recipe from this book (weekend, look out!), I anticipate it will help be become a better cook. The Pioneer Woman has certainly helped me in this regard and I believe Seaver's text will do the same. 

 Ooooooooo!!! I am super excited about this book. I might gain ten pounds over the weekend just baking away. I found Joy's blog through The Pioneer Woman and I just love her! Joy brings a great lightness to baking, even with all the butter, and her recipes are unique without being a crazy-unatainable-fancy-schmancy-mess. Joy's personality really shines throughout the book. I have always been more experimental in my cooking than my baking because there is so much chemistry behind it and I am terrified my cake/cookie/brownie/pie will end up flat and gross. Hopefully this book will change all of that! There is a section in the beginning full of tips, for instance, did you know brown sugar is just regular sugar with molasses added? I love baking because it satisfies my sweet tooth (well, my whole mouth of sweet teeth) in way that candy bars cannot.

So pick up a cookbook this weekend. You can be proud you read an entire book in one sitting - no one needs to know it was a cookbook - and you'll come out the other end with some new tricks up your sleeves.

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