Thursday, September 29, 2011

In the kitchen

I don’t know about you, but I do my best during the summer to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.  If I can manage to make dinner without use of the stove or oven, so much the better.  I grill, and we have lots of salad, but that’s about it.  By the end of August, I start longing for something different.  Something comforting.  Maybe something that takes more than twenty minutes to prepare.  Nothing hugely elaborate, just something more than greens on a plate, you know?  If you’re looking for a little inspiration in the kitchen, or even if you’re just interested in food in general, here are a few books to make you drool.

Man with a Pan, by Jon Donohue, et al.  Subtitled “Culinary Adventures of Men Who Cook for Their Families”, this features recipes and stories from men (professional chefs, writers, etc.) who cook.  Most notable among the contributors are Mario Batali, Michael Ruhlman, and Stephen King, who all weigh in on what their families love to eat, and what they, themselves, love to cook.  Interspersed with stories about recipes gone horribly awry and what they grew up eating as children, this is sweet, funny, and comforting.  A great read with lots of heart, highly recommended.

Four Kitchens: my life behind the burner in New York, Hanoi,Tel Aviv, and Paris, by Lauren Shockey.  If you’re a Top Chef fan (guilty), you’ll know some of the names Shockey drops from page 1, including Wylie Dufresne and David Chang.  This is a chef’s memoir that makes me think a bit of Anthony Bourdain’s KitchenConfidential: honest, gritty, and more than a little raw.  Added to the mix is a woman’s point of view in the restaurant kitchen, and this becomes a story of more than chef and food, but also cultures both kitchen and geographic.  Absolutely fascinating.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks, by Ree Drummond.  Ree, best known for her gorgeous blog by the same name, is one of the first bloggers I ever read with any regularity.  A wife and stay at home mom on a ranch in Oklahoma, Ree started her blog as a hobby, chronicling her adventures in cooking for her husband (The Marlboro Man) and her children (her punks).  Funny and full of her decadent recipes and delicious photos, this is a great read in addition to being a fabulous cookbook.  As a fan, I’ve tried Ree’s recipes on several occasions and can personally attest that her recipes are out of this world (her cinnamon rolls in particular are divine).  If you enjoy her cookbook, you might try reading Ree’s blog, too, which has expanded to include segments on home & garden, entertainment, homeschooling and photography, as well.  (PS, Ree’s got a show on the Food Network, too.  Check her out on Saturdays at 11:30am.)

See you next week, when we kick off a month of riveting thrillers and creepy horror novels!

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