Looking for a way to liven up your dinner routine? Have you considered vegetables? That’s right, you read correctly, vegetables!

This book, FAST, FRESH and GREEN: MORE THAN 90 DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR VEGGIE LOVERS by Susie Middleton, offers tons of recipes that elevate common vegetables beyond the everyday with tips for the perfect cooking approach. These are not your grandmother’s vegetables! (Okay, I know we all still LOVE our grandmother’s veggies.) But, imagine the difference between steamed broccoli and ‘Grilled Broccoli Rabe with Lemon and Parmigiano’ (page 187). And for summer, the chapter on “No Cooking” is perfect, featuring recipes like ‘Heirloom Tomato, Summer Peach and Fresh Herb Gazpacho Salad’ and ‘Colorful Chinese Kick-Slaw,’ both of which sound like the perfect side dish for a sticky August evening.

And for more yummy book suggestions featuring veggies, see here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #543 - "Freedom Is just frosting On somebody else's Cake -- And so must be Till we Learn how to Bake.” ~ Langston Hughes

The Art of Baking Blind, a debut novel by Sarah Vaughan (Oxford, a former news reporter for The Guardian) is a MUST for fans of PBS' Great British Baking Show.

Five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden, Mrs. Eaden being Kathleen, the recently deceased wife of the upscale supermarket chain's founder and the author of the 1966 classic, The Art of Baking. The winner not only will take away £50,000 but a baking career is almost a sure thing.

Housewives Vicki, Jenny, and Karen; single dad Mike; and single mom Claire will face off at the Eaden country estate through rounds of cakes, biscuits, breads, pies and pastries, pudding, and "celebratory tea" while dealing with personal challenges and difficult family dynamics. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, they will learn, as did Mrs. Eaden before them, that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

"Delectable 'food porn', as one character puts it."

The Cake Therapist by award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig brings to mind Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Claire "Neely" O'Neil, a pastry chef of extraordinary talent has a unique gift. She can "taste" feelings - cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. She can also customize her creations to help her clients, whether to celebrate love, overcome fear, or mourn a devastating loss.

When she returns home to Millcreek Valley (OH) after a series of personal and business set-backs in the big city, opening her own bakery seems the perfect move, especially now that the town has become a thriving bridal district. Neely's talents for helping people through her pastry palette have always been useful, but a recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals a long-ago story involving a unique piece of jewelry begs to be told. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

"Fertig crafts a culinary tale that has as much substance as sweetness and is as pleasingly layered as Neely's signature rainbow cake. "

For readers who enjoyed The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate; The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister; When in Doubt Add Butter by Elizabeth Harbison; and The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee.

New Adult Nonfiction: Plant-based Diet for Families

Don’t miss these upcoming additions to AADL’s collection of plant-based, vegan cookbooks. Get your holds placed now!

Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes, by veteran cookbook author Dreena Burton, has over 100 whole-food recipes for meals, desserts, and snacks made to appeal to the whole family, with such comforting fare as Sunday morning pancakes, hummus tortilla pizzas, teriyaki stir fry, smoky bean chili, and the intriguingly named Apple Nachos Supreme! Burton shares her insight into managing a plant-based household, including how to please picky eaters, packing school lunches, and navigating tricky social situations. There are also nutritionist-approved references for dietary concerns.

Rich Roll’s first book, Finding Ultra, chronicles his fall from elite college swimmer to middle-aged, out of shape lawyer and his ascent back into the spotlight after switching to a vegan diet and becoming a famous ultra-distance athlete. A sincere believer in the power of plants to change your life, Roll has released The Plantpower Way: Whole Foods Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family. Roll works with his chef wife Julie Piatt to bring more than 120 easy, whole-food recipes to your kitchen, including meal ideas, sides, drinks, and sweets. It also talks about sprouting, superfoods, and fermented foods. The Plantpower Way isn’t just a cookbook; it’s a primer on the plant-based lifestyle. The last chapter of the book focuses on three different lifestyle paths that the plantpower way may start you on: vitality, performance, and transformation.

For more books about cooking vegan for the whole family, check out this list.

Must See Films About Food

Good food, cooking and eating it, presents itself as the theme of innumerable films. I am sure everyone has their favorites and these eight are mine. These stories take place in Mexico, France, Germany, Denmark, India, and New York, so the experience and pleasure of telling stories about food is a universal one, like eating itself.

Babette’s Feast is the classic story of one extravagant and sumptuous meal, made by one woman, as a gift to the friends who saved her.
Chocolat, where one woman and her confectionery shop, bring pleasure back into the lives of people in a very uptight little village in France.
Like Water for Chocolate, in which the youngest daughter must refrain from marriage to take care of her aging parents, but she finds her release for pent up love and passion in making food to die for.
Ratatouille, about Remy the rat who, tired of eating moldy scraps, and sure of his own propensity for appreciating good food, travels to Paris and finds it in a high-class restaurant, but how does a rat become a cook?
Big Night, the story of two brothers in New York, who must pull off one really extravagant meal to save their failing Italian restaurant, but everything goes wrong.
Julie and Julia, based on a true story about the early years in France of famous cook, Julia Child, and the young New Yorker who emulates her cooking years later, by trying out every single one of her recipes.
The Hundred-Foot Journey, a recent release about an Indian family of cooks who open their restaurant, in a French village, across the street from a 2-star, fine French restaurant, and the complications which ensue.
And, best for last, Mostly Martha, about a compulsive and moody German chef who, when the care of her eight-year-old niece is suddenly thrust upon her, learns to mellow out with the help of the wild, flamboyant Italian chef who arrives to help in her restaurant kitchen.

What am I missing? Have a favorite?

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!


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.

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