I’ll admit I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump when it comes to nonfiction. I thought I’d do something a little different this month and turn my focus to food!
I’ve been collecting cookbooks for years. Some are ones I reference often and they have the markings and food stains to prove it. Others I chose for their beauty, admiring the artistry behind the perfect food photos. I have classics like The Fannie Farmer Cookbook; ethnic and localized selections; and specialized or themed ones like The Mango Cookbook and one devoted entirely to hot chocolate. For my first in (hopefully) an ongoing seasonal series, I’ve decided to showcase three from my collection that focus on popular summer fare.
Jack Daniel’s Old Time Barbecue Cookbook by Vince Staten
Many moons ago, Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey was my go-to beverage of choice, so when I happened across this cookbook I bought it more for the novelty than the recipes. However, over the years, I have turned to this one more than any other barbecue or southern cookbook I have. Surprisingly, the focus is not on the main course (although there is a primer of sorts on the various methods of barbecuing); instead, there is a wealth of recipes for side dishes, casseroles, desserts, and delicious sauces and rubs that work great with beef, pork, or chicken. My favorite sauce that I’ve made quite often over the years is a tangy mix of vinegar, onions, peppers, ketchup, honey, brown sugar and Worcestershire. There are classics side dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese; desserts range from pies to bread pudding. And of course there is a chapter devoted to cocktails featuring Jack Daniels!
The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
There’s something about a freshly picked sun-warmed tomato, thickly sliced and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt that just screams summer. I found this one at my favorite thrift store and knew I had to add it to my collection. What I like about it is that it’s more than just recipes. There are chapters devoted to heirloom varieties and identification as well as how to grow tomatoes. Each page has little side bars with offerings that range from tomato trivia to regional festivals that celebrate the tomato. Yes, there are the standard salsa and marinara recipes, but there is a wonderful selection of soups, sides, and mains that will help you use up those extra tomatoes in no time (however, tomato sorbet for dessert will not be on my list to make anytime soon!! ).
The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler
I’ve always said that if I had to pick three foods to eat for the rest of my life, raspberries would be at the top of the list. I love berries, from the first strawberries of spring to cranberries in autumn. This must-have book identifies any berry you can think of (plus those you never knew existed) and offers tips and recipes for all of them. The bulk of the recipes do tend to lean towards the sweet side, but there are plenty of savory choices as well (Duckling with loganberry-hoisin glaze? Turkey with blackberry barbecue sauce? Yes please!!).
Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my cookbook collection. I’m looking forward to sharing more in the months to come!