Let's Get Cooking!

Whatever school ends up looking like, it's pretty certain that there will be more time at home than at school. Which leaves more time to cook, of course! Whether you don't know a skillet from a spatula, or are ready to apply to the Culinary Institue of America, the library has wonderful cookbook choices for you. And you'll find a few inspiring reads to fill out your foodie reading list, too.

Sourdough bread has certainly had its day during quarantine, and since it is a little like getting a puppy (messy, smelly, needs constant attention - I may be exaggerating a little bit!), it gets its own book - New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford. In a world of Instagram loaves too perfect to be true, this book makes sourdough accessible—and fun. Ford, an accomplished baker who gained a sizable following through his Instagram account and blog Artisan Bryan, is Afro-Honduran, grew up in New Orleans, and now lives in Miami. This is a great guide to baking inventive sourdough breads at home. It shows readers how to make a sourdough starter, and includes recipes for basic breads, as well as other innovative baked goods from start to finish with Ford’s inviting, nontraditional approach to home baking.

Author Elizabeth Acevedo has gifted readers with another fantastic title, With the Fire on High. In a distinct, perceptive, and vulnerable first-person narrative, Emoni, a young single mom being raised by her grandmother while raising her own daughter, relates the story of her last year of high school in vignettes and short chapters, trading off between sharing bits of the story and her musings about her life and her future. Emoni has a gift for cooking, and her food, like magic, conjures emotions in people she shares it with. Her teachers, friends, and family are all ready to support her when the subject of culinary arts schooling comes up, but the one Emoni needs to learn to trust is herself. Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and fittingly, for a book so deeply about food, she also includes Emoni’s recipes. Treat yourself to the audio, which Acevedo reads herself!

Warming temperatures, rising seas, vanishing species crowded out by invasive ones—these are just some of the challenges of climate change. With earnest enthusiasm, Diet for a Changing Planet invites readers to educate themselves and believe they can make a difference - through a “focus on food.” Reviewing the link between human food production and climate change, the authors note that eating invasive plants and animals (like dandelions, kudzu, and iguanas) might help us limit use of damaging chemicals and fertilizers and rebalance the ecosystem. Similarly, consuming protein-rich, low carbon-impact bugs such as crickets and grubs reduces the harmful effects of raising livestock—and may soon be “cool” (after all, eating lobsters 200 years ago provoked the “ew” that sampling crickets gets today).

Social media is a huge part of teen life, so you may already be familiar with Amber Kelley, author of Cook with Amber: Fun Fresh Recipes to Get You in the Kitchen. After being bullied in 2nd grade for bringing homemade lunches instead of pre-packaged "cool" lunches, Amber started a YouTube channel to show everyone that cooking is easy and fun, and to share her family's wholesome, delicious recipes. Years later, she continues to share recipes on this channel and on Jamie Oliver's Food Tube channel, of which she is a member. She is also the first Food Network Star Kid! Amber's 80 most popular and delicious recipes have been hand-picked for her cookbook to empower teens to get in the kitchen. From nourishing breakfasts to start the day right, to school lunches to impress your friends, even recipes for the best homemade facial scrubs are included to fight that dreaded teen acne, Amber shares her secrets for using the power of food to get the best out of her teen years.

Chris Ying is one of the founders of the food magazine Lucky Peach, and is the editor of an essay collection called, You and I Eat the Same. Good food is the common ground shared by all of us, and immigration is fundamental to good food. In 19 thoughtful and engaging essays and stories, You and I Eat the Same explores the ways in which cooking and eating connect us across cultural and political borders, making the case that we should think about cuisine as a collective human effort in which we all benefit from the movement of people, ingredients, and ideas. It’s a lovely way to discover how international the love of fried chicken really is, and the value in getting out of your comfort zone.

Next up is What to Bake and How to Bake It by Jane Hornby. Quoting The Guardian, a leading UK news publication, this cookbook is "Just the ticket for any kitchen-novice teen heading to uni – and life without mum – for the first time: you’ll be equipping them with essential skills for feeding themselves and making firm friends." I just love an accent, don't you? The recipes themselves are fairly basic, for the most part, but they teach the fundamental skills and base recipes that can be used for inventive, creative spins once you gain some experience. Fifty delicious and accessible recipes are accompanied by photographs of the ingredients, with a clear image of every step and a stunning finished dish shot!

Chef and restaurateur Dominique Crenn, of the San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn, is the first woman in America to be awarded three Michelin stars. But the immigrant's success came in spite of longstanding misogyny in the restaurant world, which viewed the kitchen as a man's domain. In Rebel Chef, Crenn tells of her untraditional coming-of-age as a chef, beginning with her childhood in Versailles where she was emboldened by her parents to be curious and independent. But there is another reason Crenn has always felt free to pursue her own unconventional course. Adopted as a toddler, she didn't resemble her parents or even look traditionally French. Growing up she often felt like an outsider, and was haunted by a past she knew nothing about. But after years of working to fill this blank space, Crenn has embraced the power her history gives her to be whoever she wants to be.

Last one is for the graphic novel fans - Flavor by Joseph Keatinge, Wook-Jin Clark and others. In it, a young chef struggles to provide for her family’s restaurant as a mysterious threat lurks outside the city’s walls. If you’re craving a new food comic that aims to rival the likes of a Studio Ghibli feature, or the aesthetics of Lumberjanes or Bone, this is it. There's a fantastic city to be in awe of, and a Chopped-like event that pits home chefs against professional ones, and the consequences of losing are very high. Comix fans may recognize Clark as the cartoonist for the absolutely adorable Gudetama series of self-help books.

If you're one of those visual types that want to see food being prepared, check out these free cooking classes on IGTV from Christina Tosi of Milk Bar and Master Chef fame. Now let's get cooking!


Written by Dodie on