The Girl's Guide: the handiest new book!

It has always seemed to me like there are a lot of “life guidebooks” out there, especially geared towards women. Some have good info, but are often focused on a single subject: housekeeping, fashion, love and romance, health or careers, but rarely all of the above. Life can be confusing and I’ve often wished for a book that has tips and suggestions about all of that stuff that I can just keep around the house. And now, we’ve got one! The Girl’s Guide, by Melissa Kirsch, covers all these subjects—and more—in a single, simply designed new book and I love it!

Chapters include Health and Body Image, Money and Finance, Careers and Work, Dating, Sex and Romance, Spirituality, Home Ec for Modern Times, and sections on fashion sense, friendship, and getting along with and navigating familial and other close relationships. The format of the book is incredibly handy. There are longer sections, but everything is summarized in short, bolded phrases, too, for those just scanning quickly for info. Particularly relevant or important information (for example, the difference between a credit report and a credit score, or what to do if you feel like you’re going to cry at work) is detailed in cute turquoise boxes throughout the book. There are even a few checklists in The Girl’s Guide, including one for outfitting your kitchen and another for things to make sure you check on before purchasing a home. This book is incredibly useful, comprehensive, and realistic, and is a must-read—and maybe even a must-own!—for women everywhere.

Cooking with Orange is the New Black

Fans of the hit TV show Orange is the New Black have June 12 on their calendars, as that’s when the 3rd season hits Netflix! Season 2 was quite the season and I’m excited to see what season 3 will bring and to see if the show can keep up the comedy magic.

To curb your craving for the show comes a special cookbook!

Orange is the New Black The Cookbook is written by the show’s creator Jenji Kohan and three others. It features recipes such as Taystee’s Sweet and Hot Chicken Wings, Big Boo’s Roasted Corn, Piper’s Cleanse, Pennsatucky’s Beer Can Bird, Crazy Eyes’s Exploding Strawberry Pie, Red’s Thanksgiving Gravy, and more. That’s right, your favorite characters write a little blurb (in their voice) and offer up recipes to suit their (and your) soul. Check it out! It’s funny!

Library Lists: Cool Cookbooks

There are so many cookbooks out there that it can be difficult to find ones that really offer what you’re looking for, whether it’s easy dinner party meals, vegan desserts, good ideas to take for lunch, or elaborate birthday cake recipes. It’s also sometimes challenging to find recipes presented in an easy-to-follow format. This list contains some great, unique cookbooks, complete with easily understandable recipes and fun anecdotes from the authors. Happy cooking!

Salad Samurai: In this collection of over 100 ideas for unique, hearty and flavorful salads, even the most avid salad-creators among us will find ingredient combinations that they hadn’t thought of before. Also included are dozens of ideas for easy-to-make dressings that go with a wide variety of the salads in the book.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: This laugh-out-loud cookbook is by Jennifer Reese, whose popular cost-benefit experiments are a favorite of her foodie following. She admits that there’s plenty of products that you should buy at the store, and not waste time and money trying to make from scratch. All the recipes in this book are rated for “hassle” and “cost-effectiveness” and are laid out accompanied by anecdotes from Reese’s own kitchen.

Thug Kitchen: This fantastic vegetarian cookbook comes from the wildly popular Thug Kitchen website, which inspires people to take charge of their plates and cook some real food. This book has great tips for how to cook on a budget and experiment on your own with the recipes given. Thug Kitchen’s official cookbook really is, as the back cover says, “an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game.”

Budget Bytes is the perfect cookbook for anyone on a budget! Author Beth Moncel was inspired to create the Budget Bytes blog when she graduated from college during the recession and found herself with very little money… but still wanting to eat healthy. This cookbook version has over 100 easy, delicious recipes that chefs of all levels—and their pocketbooks –will appreciate!

Vegan Eats World: One of the world’s premier vegan chefs, Terry Hope Romero, has collaborated with others on this gem of a cookbook to supply readers with recipes for international vegan dishes of all types. Her adaptations on world favorites to make them vegan are unique and delicious.

The Kinfolk Table is an absolutely stunning cookbook and lifestyle book compiled by the creators of the quarterly journal Kinfolk. With profiles of everyday people from around the world and of how they cook, eat and live, The Kinfolk Table is much more than just a collection of recipes: it is really a piece of art.

Heritage: Chef Sean Brock presents readers with this gorgeous collection of Southern-inspired recipes. He grew up in Appalachia and now lives in Charleston, and both of his Southern homes are reflected in his fantastic recipes. He neatly combines comfort food (easy to make and eat at home) with higher-end dishes (that require more time, effort and presentation), for a book that has something for everyone.

Ripe: This delightful recipe book is organized by colors of fruits and vegetables. Beautiful photographs of the fruits and veggies are followed by recipes and ideas for ways to use each one, from the obvious to the unusual, and each piece of produce is accompanied by a funny blurb from author Cheryl Rule.

The Good Neighbor Cookbook has fabulous ideas for what dishes to bring to any social gathering, from book clubs, to neighborhood potlucks, to recuperating friends or family members. The recipes are easy, and unique enough to be appreciated by everyone!

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Figuring out what to pack for lunch isn’t just a problem for kids. I’ve definitely struggled keeping my midday meal diverse and healthy over the years. Beating the Lunch Box Blues has tons of great ideas for ways to freshen up your lunch, often with things that one would already have around the house! The format is mostly photos with tips and ideas, rather than specific recipes (although there are some of those, too). A great resource for revamping your lunch, and your day!

Want more user-friendly, interesting cookbooks? Check out this list for more ideas for the kitchen!

A Fine Dessert: a "treat" of a story!

What a charming and special new book! A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall, tells the story of four families in four different centuries who are all making the same delicious dessert. The ingredients for the yummy treat, blackberry fool, remain the same over the years, but the methodology for getting the materials and making the dessert changes with the times.

In the 1700s, a girl and her mother collect blackberries and then whip cream by hand from the milk from their cow. In the 1800s, a slave family in Charleston, South Carolina, picks blackberries from the plantation garden and uses a whisk made by the local blacksmith to whip the cream. In Boston in the early 1900s,a girl and her mother buy blackberries from the market and use pasteurized cream delivered by the milkman that morning. And in modern day San Francisco, a boy and his dad buy blackberries and cream at the grocery store, print a recipe from the Internet and use an electric mixer to whip the cream.

The authors do an amazing job of depicting both the similarities and differences between the families and lifestyles over time. They manage to weave in some bigger topics (slavery, gender roles) in a subtle way and provide great historical portraits of each of the time periods. And, the best news is, the recipe for blackberry fool is included at the end of the book!

Yum!

The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes

Have you been dying to learn to cook authentic Italian food, but didn't know where to begin? The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes is a great way to introduce older children to the art of cooking. This book is specially adapted for kids from the famous The Silver Spoon, the "best-selling bible of Italian cooking" first published in 1950.

The first few pages of this simple and illustrated guide explain basic cooking and cutting techniques, as well as common kitchen equipment and utensils. This first section emphasizes safety above all else, which is essential for a young person who is somewhat new to cooking. The rest of The Silver Spoon for Children consists of easy and delicious recipes. Learn to make a beautiful mozzarella and tomato salad or a hearty minestrone soup. Try your hand at linguine with pesto, lasagna, or potato gnocci. You can even learn to make your own pizza dough and pizzas! Desserts round out this full collection, with recipes for delicious hazelnut cake, banana cream or fruits of the forest ice cream.

This book is recommended for older children looking to learn more about cooking. It includes easy-to-follow instructions and full-color photographs, as well interesting and artsy illustrations on every page. This beautiful book is a must have for any aspiring future chef.

Baked (and Unbaked) Delights for Everyone!

Tomorrow, March 20, is officially the first day of spring. And what better way to celebrate than baking tons and tons of sweet treats? Check out these recently added, dietary-specific cookbooks.

Sweet Eats for All, from popular blogger and cookbook author Allyson Kramer, is a lusciously photographed collection of vegan and gluten-free recipes that covers a huge range of desserts, from cupcakes, cookies, and pies to puddings, candies, and ice creams. While you'll find a few standard recipes here (classic yellow cupcakes; apple pie; chocolate pudding), there are many more unusual and creative ones that don't often show up in basic cookbooks: speculoos cookies, pistachio rose cheesecake, strawberry balsamic sorbetto, and hand-pulled taffy, just to name a few. There's also a whole chapter dedicated to no-refined-sugar recipes for those who want to cut out the processed junk.

Rawsome Vegan Baking's claim to fame is that it's not only gluten-free and vegan, but raw too! This book (called an "un-cookbook") by Emily Von Euw is probably not for people with nut allergies, as nuts are prevalent here (though there are a couple nut-free recipes). The photographs are gorgeous, and it's nice to have minimally-processed recipes on hand. One interesting twist to this book is that some recipes use GF-oat or buckwheat flour to cut down on the density (and expense!) of all-nut-based desserts while still being gluten-free. Some examples of what you'll find in these pages: cashew coffee vanilla creme cake with cinnamon chocolate crust; go-nuts donuts with frosting and sprinkles, and fresh citrus tart with lemon cream.

Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking by Cara Reed is also not to missed. Within its pages you will find recipes not just for sweets like cookies, cakes, and pastries, but also savories like "Cheez-It" crackers and focaccia bread. Highlights: GF, vegan versions of Girl Scout cookies! Reed also shows you how to make your own natural food dyes.

Chef on DVD

Jon Favreau directs and stars in Chef. In the film, Chef Carl Casper loses his restaurant job with help from a public scene that goes viral. He is struggling with finding time for his son while dealing with his ex-wife. He longs to cook creatively and finds himself in a rut. Casper eventually gets talked into heading to Miami to open up his own food truck making his own food his own way.

The truck ends up on a road trip across America with Carl, his son, and his soux chef played by John Leguizamo. The film is funny, touching, and foodilicious! Bring on the Cuban street food! The film also stars: Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, and Amy Sedaris. Fun!

Absolutely Oatrageous!

If you are looking to amp up your morning breakfast routine, then check out Kathy Hester's newest book, Oatrageous Oatmeals!

The book starts off with more conventional ways to use oats, including delectable and creative oatmeals such as Apple Pear Baked Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Pumpkin Coffee Cake Oatmeal. However, it also delves into other breakfast ideas such as muffins, granolas, coffee cakes, and breakfast bars. These are all great ideas for those snuggly winter mornings when a warm breakfast is welcome, but what about the summer months? "Oatrageous Oatmeals" also includes several recipes for overnight oats, which are cool and satisfying refrigerated oatmeals.

The most surprising part of this book is the addition of several savory recipes for lunch and dinner. Picky kids (and grown-ups!) won't even be able to tell that there are protein-packed oats in their Chickpea Veggie Soup or their Potato Gnocchi. Those with specialized diets can find something to love in this book too; all recipes have omitted the use of meat and dairy products, and included alternatives to omit gluten as well.

Kathy Hester is well-known for her contributions to the Key Ingredient blog as well as other online publications. She has written three other cookbooks.

Taco Tuesday!

It’s taco Tuesday! What are you making for dinner? Taco Tuesday has been around for a while, but it seemed to pick up steam with families after last spring’s Lego Movie. What’s taco Tuesday? It’s pretty much just making it a point to dine on tacos on a Tuesday. Pretty genius, if you ask me. Because tacos are awesome!

Tacos can be simple or elaborate. Nachos? They count. Walking tacos? They totally count. Burritos? Get on it!

Looking for some ways to spice up taco night at your house? Check out some of the cookbooks with oodles of taco recipes available at the library! So many tacos! And hey, tacos are good any day of the week!

Dos Caminos Tacos: Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Street Food

Tacos: 75 Authentic and Inspired Recipes

Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico's Favorite Street Food

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos

Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico

Here’s a quick list of additional taco-tastic titles.

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