Update on Reading Cookbooks

I think I really struck the right balance in making goals for this year, for once in my life. I let them come to me one by one, and there were only four of them. Not too many, not too few, not too overwhelming. I think I will write a post sometime in June (the halfway point) with an update on how they are going, but here is the scorecard so far: on two of them, I am doing awesome. On one I am doing fairly well, and on that last one…not so well, but it’s not for lack of desire. I hope I’ll have some time to devote to it while I have a little break break from work (and, as one of my college classmates said when our professor asked us if we were all caught up on our War and Peace reading, “Hope springs eternal.”) In any case, reading my cookbooks is one of the two that are highly ranking in follow-through awesomeness. Since all four of them were designed to increase the quantity of fun in my life, I call that winner.

I have finished two more since my last update, and I’m eager to share them with you. My sweet BFF gave us Melissa Clark‘s In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite for our wedding, and I have fallen in love with the recipes already. I so enjoyed and savored reading through the book as a whole, especially since she offers a small narrative with each recipe. I loved hearing about her culinary childhood and watching the wonderful twists and turns of her life as they appeared in her cooking, since it’s in sharing a meal with the ones we love that our lives are really to be found, right? One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that Clark takes you through her thought process in the kitchen: how she adapts other recipes based on what she has in the fridge, how one dish can inspire something completely different, and all kinds of happy accidents that have turned into staples for her family. She really encourages her readers to improvise and to be creative, and I love that. Each recipe comes with a variation and a few more suggestions for experimentation, but the bottom line is that Clark is an avowed recipe tweaker, and she gives her readers the freedom to embrace the same philosophy. It’s really refreshing! Also, delicious.

The second cookbook is a recently acquired one, the Joy the Baker Cookbook. I was able to meet Joy back in February, on the day her cookbook was released, and she is so wonderfully kind and lovely. This is the kind of cookbook that has about 15 bookmarks in it at all times. Peanut butter cake? Yes, please! Avocado pound cake? Sounds good! White chocolate mousse? By all means! The photographs in this book are so gorgeous (there is one for every recipe) that they really make you want to drop everything and head for the kitchen. That is a sign of a good cookbook, I think. I have been using Joy’s recipes from her blog for quite a while now, and they absolutely never disappoint. I cannot wait to try all 15 of the recipes I bookmarked. And then 15 more. Someone in the audience at the book signing asked Joy what her next big goals were, now that the cookbook has been published. Without hesitating, she replied, “I want to write another one,” and everyone in the packed room smiled with excitement and anticipation.

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