Cooking Inspired

Searching for new recipes can sometimes be a bit daunting. I am drawn to the cookbook aisle of the bookstore to book covers that capture beautifully plated dinners and appetizers. Inevitably, as I sift through the book, fascinated with the colors and apparent textures, I become increasingly hungry and curious. But then, the recipes are often not practical for day-to-day meals at my house (think complicated sauces and multi-step preparations - no thanks!). Defeated, I set aside the lovely pictures and saunter away with a growling stomach and no new recipes. As you can imagine, I become stuck and uninspired and end up on websites like this. But there is something to be said about talking to those more wise and seasoned than me rather than looking to google for inspiration. So, I turned to our trusted cooks here at the farm.

The kitchen staff at Cedar Circle Farm are an inspired bunch of cooks and bakers, and I make it a point to venture from our offices into the creative world of the kitchen on a daily basis in search of tips, hints, and, unashamedly, delicious small bites of newly tested recipes. Their bright suggestions and extensive experience inspired this week’s blog - sharing a favorite, tried-and-true cookbook or recipe - as a way to turn a light on in the kitchens of those of us who, perhaps like me, were operating in the routine dark for a little too long. Here are my dear kitchen friends’ best cookbook suggestions.

“The cookbook I chose is called The Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook by Patricia Lousada. It was published January 1, 1987, by my grandmother. She has written many cookbooks, but I find this one the most interesting since it’s all about chocolate.”

“One of the cookbooks I grew up baking with was Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts. It contains wonderfully delicious treats that even a young baker like myself can execute without too much trouble. I recommend the Blueberry Buckle or Chocolate Cake recipes for anyone looking to impress a crowd.”

“One of the best cookbooks out there is especially for beginners: The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. It has all you need to cook without fear, and there is even a section on how to skin a rabbit!”

“Nigel Slater’s two volume collection Tender makes a wonderful gift to a farm-to-table cook, as it combines Slater’s recipes with his gardening journal, thoughts on varieties, and other insights into growing and preparing your own food. The Celeriac Slaw with Bacon and Creme Fraiche makes an outstanding cold-weather starter for an elegant meal.”

“A go-to cookbook that has been on my shelf for over 30 years is The Victory Garden by Marian Morash. If you have any questions about how to prepare, cook, store, or even harvest almost any vegetable, Marian has the information for you. Her recipes are easy to follow, and all the recipes that I’ve tried have been very tasty. Her Moussaka recipe is one of my favorites, and Aunt Pat’s Summer Salad makes great use of summer’s bounty. Her husband, Russ, used to host the show “The Victory Garden” on PBS, so Marian includes valuable gardening information with the recipes. This is a great book!”

The Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts is one of my favorite places to turn to for inspiration on how to incorporate beautiful summer produce into my baking. The Red Devil Chocolate Cake is a recipe that I’ve had fun playing with recently. Additionally, for a closer look at the “hows and whys” behind the recipes, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Baking Bible covers everything from traditional cookies to fancy cakes and yeast pastries, making it a fun starting point for those who are new to baking. It’s also a nice next step for more adventurous bakers.”

These suggestions put me at ease. It’s easy to pick up a cookbook for its fancy pictures and elegant font, but many home cooks are simply looking for practical, trustworthy, delicious recipes. So, I encourage you to pick up one (or all!) of these recommended cookbooks and try out some of the recipes. I wish you delectable adventures in the kitchen, and we hope to hear of your successes on our Facebook page.

Be inspired!

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