I adore cookbooks. I covet them like I do my favorite novels that have been with me over the years, timelining my experiences, my life. Although I love the ease with which I can get recipes off the internet these days, I still will always love cookbooks, the weight of them, how they feel in my hand, the amazing photography and recipes to inspire me. The stories inside them as well as the memories we make with them.
There’s the Colorado Cache Cookbook I still own from when we were growing up in Denver, because it’s part of the language of my childhood. It has some of the wonderful meals my mom used to make for us, like the Rocky Mountain Brisket with Barbecue Sauce, and the Chicken Dijon which was also one of the first meals Megan, Kevin and I ever made for my parents when we were kids.
Giada’s tart and yummy Lemon Spaghetti from her book Everyday Italian. Its simple flavors of lemon, parmesan and basil have graced many a table at our family gatherings over the years. And from the same book, her White Bean Dip that Jasper eats by the bowlful, and for his third year of life was pretty much the only thing he would eat, not including goldfish or candy.
Joanne Weir’s cookbook, Weir Cooking: Recipes from the Wine Country includes the Penne with Tomatoes, Spicy Fennel Sausage, and Cream recipe Greg made for me when we started dating. I didn’t think I’d like it because I didn’t like sausage; I’m so glad I was wrong. Each bite was such a perfect, spicy, creamy, tomatoey bite with hints of sage, rosemary and wine. I think I licked my bowl clean. It’s still one of our favorite recipes today.
When Greg and I got married and moved to Georgia, good friends gave us the Celebrate the Rain cookbook from the Junior League of Seattle. It’s full of gems. The Beef Tenderloin with Shiitake Mushroom Cream Sauce is one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever eaten in my life. The first time we made it, Greg and I sat down to dinner with my dad, who was visiting, and the dish was so incredible we were literally speechless, like we couldn’t believe that what we had just created with our own hands in our own kitchen could melt on our tongues with such sublime flavors. No one in my family is speechless at the dinner table. I think we nearly cried it was so good.
I could go on for pages, the Sweet Chili Rice from Jamie Oliver’s, Meals in Minutes. Actually, I love all of his books, even the ones I don’t cook from very often, his books are just so beautiful. The Daily Soup Cookbook, all of The Barefoot Contessa’s books, Tyler Florence’s books, even Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Cookbook, not for it’s diet potential, but because Greg seduced me into loving lamb chops with the Luscious Lamb recipe. And the recipe for Cheesy Baked Eggs is one we’ve made many times over the years when we are feeling like eating something rich and decadent.
For my birthday this year, my Aunt Patty gave me The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods by Erin Gleason.
Once again I’m in love and absolutely inspired. It’s gorgeous, colorful, whimsical, just so, so beautiful with her mixture of photographs, drawings and watercolors. The book feels festive and alive.
Some cookbooks we hold onto for that one perfect recipe, The Forest Feast is bursting with recipes I can’t wait to make, and because they are so incredibly easy, I can tell from the ingredients, I will love them. There’s Beer Battered Artichoke Hearts, and gorgeous looking Apricot Bites with goat cheese, thyme and dried cranberries. Leek Medallions, which is a fancy way of saying fried leeks, HELLO! YUM!! The Squash Blossom Pizza and Curried Crispy Carrots both sound delish. And she has a super fun cocktail section.
Of course, the first thing I made was a cocktail. What can I say, the Broncos were winning the super bowl and I had all the ingredients for the Cucumber Spritzer. Equal parts white wine and seltzer over ice, a long, thin slice of cucumber and some fresh mint. Perfect and light. I even made one the other day without the wine; the flavors of fresh cucumber and mint in sparkling water are deliciously refreshing.
Thank you Aunt Patty! Can’t wait to cook from this book with you some day soon. Cheers to many more wonderful memories from fabulous cookbooks!