Sunday Selections: For Foodies!

Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t love food?

Everyone eats, right?! All of us have our own individual tastes and diets — foods we love and others we avoid like the plague — but one universal truth remains: We all have to eat to survive. There are so many great places to find delicious new recipes, from the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, to Skinnytaste and AllRecipes, and beyond! However, it’s easy to forget that books — not just cookbooks, but novels as well — are little hidden treasures when it comes to food. If an author crafts their words well enough, you might be left with a hankering for a dish simply after reading a description of it! I doubt you’d find another place where hot chocolate is described as a steaming mug of liquid sweetness, topped with a snow-capped mountain of light, airy whipped cream that warms you from the inside out.

See what I did there?

I’ll wait while you prepare some hot chocolate for yourself. Top it with a marshmallow or two if you have them, I don’t care! So what if it’s August — you won’t find any judgment here. (I don’t drink coffee and I love tea — especially peppermint tea — but hot chocolate is my hot beverage of choice year-round!)

Okay! Now that you’re all settled in, take a look at five of my favorite books for foodies!


Available via Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound
From Publishers Weekly:
In her well-intentioned first book, First Lady Obama presents the semi-organized tale of the White House Kitchen Garden. Shortly after her husband assumed office, Obama and a class of fifth-graders broke ground on the first food-producing garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s WWII-era “victory garden.” Here, Obama details the evolution of the current 1,100 square foot patch, and expands her story to touch on community gardens, farmers’ markets, the importance of the availability of fresh foods, and her “Let’s Move!” initiative to fight childhood obesity. Organized according to the four seasons, Obama concludes each chapter with timely recipes, including spinach pie, a corn soup to go with freshly harvested summer veggies, linguine with a savory mushroom bacon sauce, and white chocolate-cherry-carrot cookies for a sweet wintry treat. In addition to these “highlights,” 40 pages of season-specific recipes are included. Though narrative structure is not Obama’s forte (she frequently pauses mid-story to offer tips for home gardeners and advice on how to build a better lunch), this is nevertheless an eye-catching and engaging book. Those looking for a linear story will likely be frustrated, but folks interested in fresh, local food; Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign; and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will find plenty to enjoy here.

First I should mention that, of the five books I’ll be sharing with you, this is the only one I haven’t reviewed for my blog, but I do own a copy and I love it dearly. Now, let’s set aside politics for a minute and focus on what’s really important here. American Grown is a book of stories about creating, cultivating, and maintaining a garden. It’s broken down by season and comes complete with a selection of seasonal recipes. Most importantly, though, it revolves around the idea that children are more likely to eat the food that they’ve had a hand in choosing and growing. In an age where obesity and over-processed foods are considered the norm, this book holds more significance than ever. Even if you’re not a fan of the Obama family or of Washington, American Grown is at the very least worth a look.

 


Available via Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound
From Barnes and Noble:
Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends — fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds — out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it — but who?
There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

I shared my review of The All You Can Dream Buffet back in March, and I remember the story well. The book appealed to me not only as a blogger but as a lover of food as well. The description was vivid and lovely, leaving me hungry and teaching me to never read a book about food without keeping a snack nearby. Aside from that, this is also a story about friendship, family, and love. It’s a great book, and serves as an even better summer beach read.

 


The Glass Kitchen
Available via Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound
From Barnes and Noble:
With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself. A true recipe for life.
Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.
The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

This was one of those books that, when I shared my review, I all but stated outright that it blew me away. This isn’t just about food, but about how Portia figures out which dishes to prepare and when. Food is magic in The Glass Kitchen, and the culinary magic leads to several other, unexpected kinds of magic (some beautiful and others not so much). It’s also fun to think about whether you would want Portia’s gift, which they call the knowing. A beautiful story full of fabulous food!

 


The School of Essential Ingredients
Available via Amazon or IndieBound
From Publishers Weekly:
In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence. Respected chef and restaurateur Lillian has spent much of her 30-something years in the kitchen, looking for meaning and satisfaction in evocative, delicious combinations of ingredients. Endeavoring to instill that love and know-how in others, Lillian holds a season of Monday evening cooking classes in her restaurant. The novel takes up the story of each of her students, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. Each student’s affecting story-painful transitions, difficult choices-is rendered in vivid prose and woven together with confidence. Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister’s tale of food and hope is certain to satisfy.
I reviewed The School of Essential Ingredients in February and immediately sought out its sequel, The Lost Art of Mixing. Food and cooking are what tie Lillian and her students together — they share their joys and their sorrows with each other while learning to prepare dishes and then sitting down to eat what they’ve made. Funny, enchanting, delicious, and heartbreaking, this is another book that belongs on the bookshelves of foodies everywhere.

 



Available via Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound
From Storey Books:
For those of us who love cookbooks with heart and substance, Soup Night will occupy a well-deserved spot on your shelf. And don’t be surprised if it inspires you to start your own Soup Night, large or small. And even if you’re like me — I have no neighbors within shouting distance, literally — you’ll reach for this book’s soup recipes time and again, especially as the snow begins to fly.
It’s a simple, powerful idea captured in a stunningly beautiful book
More than a cookbook, Soup Night delivers a practical guide for hosting a casual affair where a simmering pot of soup (or two) is the star of the party.

This was a really fun book I posted a review of when I first started blogging. I had been given an e-book version to read and, after sharing my thoughts online, I ran out to purchase a physical copy for myself. I never quite got around to hosting a Soup Night but I hope to make it happen this fall or winter! The recipes are simple and prepared from fresh ingredients; you won’t find anything calling for a can of Campbell’s condensed in here. Just as important as the food in this book are the stories, as participants in Soup Nights share anecdotes from their experiences with sharing meals and bonding with their neighbors. It’s a fascinating proposal for a social experiment that every neighborhood should attempt (because come on, do you really know all of your neighbors? I sure don’t!), but even if you choose not to host a Soup Night, the recipes alone make the book worth purchasing!

So now it’s your turn — what books for foodies would you recommend?

  • Thanks for the comment over on FB! The Glass Kitchen sounds a little like Like Water for Chocolate! I’m bookmarking this post so I can go through all the books 🙂 Thanks Erin!