DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Apr 6 2011

Desert Island Cookbooks

by Dea Anne M

As anyone who follows this blog might gather, I am an avid cook and so it might stand to reason that I am also a lover of cookbooks. Through the years, I have built up what I consider a nice collection but there are a few cookbooks that I return to again and again and many of them are available at DCPL.

I sometimes enjoy considering the old question that usually starts “If you were a castaway on a desert island…” and wondering which of my cookbooks I would find essential to have with me. Of course, all of this begs the question of  where my ingredients would come from and how I would cook them. So let’s just pretend that eggs, heavy cream, and a variety of spices are readily available along with convenient sources of heat and chilling.

One of my absolute favorite cookbooks is America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook by the editors of  America’s Test Kitchens. I have cooked dozens of recipes from every section of this book and have yet to be disappointed. Cooking tips and equipment ratings are authoritative and the three-ring binder format makes this cookbook extremely easy to use. I consider this volume a must for kitchen novices and experienced cooks alike.

Another front runner is the The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Hesser is long-time a food columnist for the New York Times and here she has compiled the “best of the best” recipes published by the paper from 1850 on up to the present. Hesser is a witty writer and along with being a wonderful cookbook this volume is also just really fun to read. I have cooked the Chicken Paprikash, Carrots with Cumin, Pork Loin Braised in Milk and Cream, and the Chocolate Dump-It Cake (known as “The Cake” among my friends). All have been delicious. Highly recommended!

I think that few serious cooks would argue that one of the classic essential cookbooks is  Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. Time after time, I have turned to my splattered, dog-eared copy in order to find the “standard” recipe for whatever I might want to cook. Precisely written and reliable recipes and an approachable, down-to-earth tone makes this a more than worthy addition to your kitchen library.

What is your desert island cookbook? Here are a few that you might consider.

The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Thoroughly tested recipes and (very) in depth instructions make this a perfect reference for the detail-oriented cook who prefers a scientific approach.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Incredibly comprehensive, this cookbook is everything that the title would lead you to believe.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. A beautiful book that you will use again and again, even if you aren’t a vegetarian.

Happy cooking, and don’t get sand in the soup!


Nov 24 2010

Beyond Turkey Day

by Joseph M

Of all the things affiliated with Thanksgiving, the most ubiquitous association is the turkey, so much so that many folks refer to the holiday as “Turkey Day”. But not all of us indulge in consumption of the infamous gobbler; in some families, other foodstuffs take center stage. In fact, the wide variety of traditions, culinary and otherwise, are one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. One book that explores this positive conception of diversity is the juvenile picture book Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, which reminds us that different families celebrate in different ways. If you’re a vegetarian, like myself, or are working with some other type of dietary restriction, the library has numerous cookbooks to help you prepare a meal suitable for your requirements; a good example is The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley. And if you’re curious as to how the turkey came to be so supremely conflated with the Thanksgiving holiday, check out The Turkey: An American Story by Andrew F. Smith.

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever your particular traditions!


Jul 14 2010

I scream. You scream.

by Dea Anne M

Lately, I find myself having thoughts like “Whoever invented air conditioning should have received a prize.” (something on the order of a Nobel is what comes to mind). I also ask myself the idle question “How did people cool off before air conditioning?” knowing full well that most of the world’s population gets along without what many of us consider an utter necessity. Of course, what we eat and drink can go a long way toward making us feel more comfortable in sweltering weather. Much of the planet’s citizens know that hot peppers, due to their sweat inducing properties, can help conquer the heat. Many of us would put in a vote for a frosty bottle of beer. Of course, a lot of us hard-core Southerners will vow that nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea.

For me though, the supreme heat soother is ice cream.  What’s my favorite flavor? All of them! I maintain a fond nostalgia for the garish purple color and Nehi flavor of the grape ice cream that I always ordered at the ice cream parlor of my Orlando childhood. I remember too a more recent ice cream experience. The flavor was basil (unusual but delicious) and it followed a bouillabaisse that featured a tiny squid tentacle sticking up out of the bowl (unusual and not delicious).  But the ice creams I enjoy the most are the ones that I make at home.  Making ice cream is a straight forward procedure and most ice cream makers come with instructions plus simple recipes. To help with your more ambitious, and delicious, ice cream projects DCPL has some great resources.

For making ice cream, check out these titles.

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks and More by Bruce Weinstein

The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas,  and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz

Do you like a little history with your ice cream?

A Month of Sundaes by Michael Turback

…and remember…kids love ice cream too.

Ice Cream Larry by Daniel Pinkwater

Give it a try! So what’s my favorite flavor today? It would have to be Brown Sugar Peaches and Cream.  I made a batch this weekend. It was delicious…if I do say so myself.

Maybe next time I’ll invite you over.


Apr 21 2010

My Favorite Foodies

by Jnai W

I love Food. I’ll be the first to own the fact that my love of Food has expanded my waist line and made my butt bigger but who cares? It’s not Food’s fault.  Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of my favorite fellow foodies, whether they be esteemed chefs or just really good people who like to eat.  Please consider the following food appreciators:

Jamie Oliver: I’ve just gotten hooked on his new ABC show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  Jamie Oliver, a.k.a “The Naked Chef” (yum!), is on a mission to save America from poor eating habits and overly-processed rubbish disguised as food. So far, based on the premiere episode, he has been met with stiff opposition from defensive locals, red-tape bound cafeteria ladies and school children who prefer breakfast pizza and strawberry-flavored milk over anything nutritious and normal colored. You’d have to watch the show to see if he can soften the cholesterol-caked hearts of the masses and start a food revolution. But you can trek down to The Library to check out books by The Naked Chef.

Nigella Lawson:  She is one of my favorite foodies and her story is rather remarkable to me. Not a trained chef or cook, Lawson is instead a journalist and food writer who began her career as a food critic.  She has long since become an icon in cookery and food appreciation in the U.K and the U.S. I like the fact that she takes a relaxed and loving approach to the culinary arts. She’s also gorgeous and sultry; truly a food romantic.

Justin Wilson: I remember as a kid watching cooking shows on PBS with my mother. Among such notable chefs as Martin Yan, Jacques Pepin and, of course, Julia Child is another favorite of mine, Justin Wilson. I remember being struck by the visage of a large man in a bow-tie and a thick, drawling Cajun accent. My siblings and I would mimic his catchphrase (“I gerr-own-tee!”) and mispronouncing Worcestershire sauce (“Whats-dis-here sauce?”). I was pleased when I noticed that the Library has several of his cookbooks, chock full of recipes for great Cajun cooking.

Top Chef:  As Bravo Television’s best reality show since Project Runway, Top Chef brings together contestants from around the country to compete for coveted prizes and the prestige of being crowned “Top Chef”.  My only gripe about this show has been the fact that, unlike standard cooking shows, recipes aren’t provided during the episode. Luckily, there are now at least 2 Top Chef cookbooks available, allowing fans to partake of some of the tasty-looking dishes.


Nov 6 2009

Stir it once, stir it twice

by Lesley B

Just about the last thing I want to do in the summer is fire up the oven, but in cooler weather soup sounds better to me than salad.  There’s always my thrifty Surprise Soup – want the recipe?  Look in the refrigerator, see what’s left over, add chicken broth and if it’s good, surprise! Occasionally I want to make soup that’s a little more, ah, planned. Looking in our catalog for ideas, I found:

Love SoupLove Soup: 160 all-new vegetarian recipes from the author of The Vegetarian Epicure

A collection of soup recipes, many vegan, from a renowned vegetarian cook. According to the reviews, it includes a pickle soup recipe. I’m not sure I want to eat that but I do want to read the recipe.

exaltation soupAn exaltation of soups: the soul-satisfying story of soup, as told in more than 100 recipes

This book comes from a fascinating blog (formerly a website) called SoupSong. Patricia Solley has been writing about soup online for more than 10 years, mixing soup history and local culture in with the recipes. Want to make a soup that’s a little out of the ordinary? Try Yemen’s saltah or a Turkish balik corbasi.

Closer to home, you could head to Buckhead to eat at Souper Jenny, recently featured in the AJC . The article includes some of Jenny Levison’s recipes and we’ve got her cookbook at the Library.

And while you stir, you can sing:

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Jul 6 2009

I scream, You scream, We all scream

by Vivian A

for ice cream.  Creamy, yummy, good for the tummy – July is National Ice Cream Month. Americans have been celebrating National Ice Cream Month since 1984 when President Ronald Regan designated it as a special occasion.

In fact, the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day (July 19th this year.) President Reagan felt that since ninety percent of the nation’s population enjoys eating ice cream, we should celebrate!

The International Ice Cream Association (IICA) encourages celebrating because ice cream sales account for twenty billion dollars in sales each year and provides thousands of jobs. Nine percent of all milk produced is used in making ice cream. (I bet some kids wish they could have an ice cream cone instead of a glass of milk.)

Whether you like the fancy stuff or plain vanilla (the most popular flavor.), there’s something out there for you. If you were interested in making your own, check out Ice Cream by Pippa Cuthbert and Lindsay Cameron Wilson. (641.862 Cuth) or Ice Cream and frozen desserts by Peggy Fallon, (641.862 Fall.)

That’s the scoop on National Ice Cream Month. Be sure and have a sundae on Sunday, July 19th.


Jun 22 2009

The Thrill of the Grill

by Vivian A

Ever since man first put a chunk of dinosaur meat over a hot flame in some lonely cave, he has quested for new and better ways to cook meat. Give a guy a grill and you’ll find one happy man.

You’ll find two types of grilling methods – gas and charcoal. The size of the grill is up to the man and his budget. Wander around a hardware store and you’ll see all sizes and brands ready and waiting to make the trip to the back yard or deck.

Wander over to the 641.5784 section of the library stacks and you’ll find Bobby Flay, George Foreman and many others ready to teach you how to marinade, filet or rub your meat to pre-flame perfection.

There’s even an indoor electric grill for rainy days. And it doesn’t matter if you like beef, pork, chicken, fish or even veggie burgers – there’s something available for your taste. No pun intended.

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