To inspire your own foodie updates, here's a round-up of recipes I've posted here, along with notes on a few of my favorite cookbooks and other posts on food in general.
- Peach Elderberry Chutney: A Farmers' Market Experiment
- Cornbread and Cornbread: New England Spider Cake and Crackling Corn Bread
- Not Exactly a Recipe for Potato Soup: My Vegetarian Trickery
- Recipe Time: Interpretation of a Kinda Chunky Tomato/Red Bell Pepper/Black Bean Soup
- By Popular Demand: A Recipe for Spicy Fries
- Seriously Good Oatmeal Cookies
As for cookbooks, I have a full bookcase in my kitchen. I like to read cookbooks and taste the recipes in my head--many a calorie-free meal is enjoyed this way.
I most often use recipes as a starting point for inspiration and then improvise based on ingredients on hand unless it's one of those recipes where chemistry and proportions seem to really matter. I appreciate cookbook writers who think the way I do and throw in parenthetical remarks like "using rosemary instead of basil takes this in a whole new direction."
A few of my favorites:
- Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
. She's on Twitter now! Follow @madhursworld. The Spanish Egg and Potato Cake is a new family favorite and reading the book is like a trip around the world's great kitchens.
- The New Laurel's Kitchen
. Mostly for bread but I'll be trying her ketchup recipe soon.
- 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery
. Try the Herbed Sesame Polenta with Roasted Vegetables, Brown Rice with Quinoa, and Quinoa-Mushroom Nut Loaf.
- The Brilliant Bean. Family favorites: Lemony Garbanzo Bean Cake, Chocolate Midnight Bean Torte.
- Everyday Italian
. Sweet Husband's favorite. He's adapted several recipes for my vegetarian palate including the Farfalle with "Turkey Susage" (Peppered Tofurkey lunchmeat works just fine), Peas and Mushrooms; the Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas is incredible because he uses the full amount of butter specified whereas I'd cut it back so I just pretend not to know when I eat his; the Marinara Sauce is peppery and wonderful; and the Cantaloupe, Strawberries and Grapes with White Wine and Mint makes a wonderful light summer dessert.
- The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking
. "Art" is right: Beautiful food photography of gourmet food prepared with no sacrifice of flavor; source of the Crackling Cornbread recipe linked above. Try the Giambotta--a delicious kettle full of veggies--and the Winter Squash and Gruyere Gratin--rich and creamy goodness.
- Almost Vegetarian. I turn to this one occasionally.
- Great Good Food
. Nicely organized by season; I use the pie crust recipe from this one.
- The Athlete's Palate Cookbook. The latest bookcase addition; so far I've only made the Asparagus Omelet Tart in a Dill Polenta Crust--needs a little more zing in the polenta crust but it was delicious.
- Jane Brody's Good Food Book
. An old standby; my copy falls open to the Oatmeal Muffins on page 601 (we'll just pretend the recipe name doesn't include those nasty raisins--I leave them out). A bookcase full of cookbooks accumulated over the years demonstrates how nutrition trends come and go--I didn't realize until I looked this up on Amazon to link that the subtitle refers to "the high-carbohydrate way." Pre-Atkins, obviously, and perfect for a household with a metabolic burner like my bike-racing Sweet Husband since he needs lots of carbs.
- Another standby--the one my mother raised six kids with--Joy of Cooking
. I have an edition I got in 1986 that lists 1975 as the last copyright date; I've heard less than flattering remarks about more recent editions. This is still the go-to for basic recipes like Fresh Cherry Pie.
- Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies
. I had to pick this one up because the main Joy of Cooking doesn't include some of the standards my family counts on like the Candy Cane Cookies with crushed peppermint.