Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oh, to be young, rested, and in the mood to cook!

ISBN-10: 1452101248
ISBN-13: 9781452101248
Published: Chronicle Books, 03/01/2011
Pages: 288
Language: English
So far in this long, hard-lived life of mine (I'm in my early twenties, recently graduated college, and have in no way lived a hard life), I've learned that, when it comes to cookbooks, it's sink or swim. Some work, some don't, and when they don't, they really, really don't.

Part of it, surely, is that my kitchen supplies are spotty (I just discovered, upon moving, my lack of measuring cups), and another part is the fact that I've been spoiled by microwave mac 'n' cheese and my family's leftovers. Ask me to rice a potato and I turn deathly pale. Ask me to slice something thinly and you might get some awkward-looking cubes.

Up til now, the "hit" part of "hit or miss" has been largely comprised of The Smitten Kitchen. To anyone who's visited the internet in the last, say, year or so, Deb Perelman, the blog's author, is a familiar voice, one that guides you calmly and confidently through the steps it takes to make Japanese pancakes or bake cardamom-spiced brownies. Her cookbook lives up to her blog's user-friendliness and lack of fussiness, and similarly straddles that oh-so-fine line between absurd foodie weirdness and boring, been-there-done-that dishes. I say, let us not veer too far down exotic lane (where am I supposed to buy sumac in Mebane?), but also let us not fall back on meatloaf for every meal.

Today, I decided I'd try Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, a vegetarian cookbook with gorgeous photographs (oh, those pomegranate seeds!) and smartly-organized indexes -- you can look up recipes by ingredient and heft. As cookbooks go, it's pretty affordable ($35.00) and it would make a gorgeous gift for anyone that likes seasonal food, Middle Eastern ingredients, or recipes on the eccentric side.

As always, I'd like to know what I'm missing. Are you sensing a trend yet? Please chime in below with comments on your favorite cookbooks, be they traditional or odd. With last night's veggie pancake success under my belt, I'm feeling pretty confident that Ottolenghi's poached eggs and bulgur pilaf is within my grasp.

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