What is YOUR food?

food5.jpgWe all love food, but we all have our own favourites. Sure, there are many great cookbooks out there like the ones shown above, but what are the recipes you love the most? The ones you return to? The ones your Grandmother used to make? Instead of keeping millions of food-stained pieces of paper, why not put together a “Family Cookbook”, filled with the recipes that mean something to you and your loved ones, complete with stories and photos to accompany it!

What is a family cookbook?

A family cookbook is an ambitious undertaking. You’ll need at least a dozen recipes, and photos of the food once it is made. But if you’re looking for something unique and wonderful to give to special people in your life this holiday season, now is the time to start planning.

Why would anyone want to make a family cookbook?

It’s not simply about organizing your recipes…it’s a way to pass on favourites from generation to generation. And everyone has at least one wonderful cook in the family, so bring them in on it. They’ll be a big help!

How do you even begin?

First, gather up some recipes that you love. Ask family members for some of theirs, and talk to other family members about recipes they loved as children, and try to find similar recipes online.

Next, pick 10 – 12 favourites—–any more might be too ambitious for this project. Now, make sure the ingredients and directions are clear. Type out each recipe as its own word document and save.  You’ll need these later to upload to a book design program.

This is the hardest part. Ask someone who takes great photos to help. Check Instagram and Facebook for great food photos taken by your friends or family members at restaurants (everyone loves to take photos of their food, right?). You’ll need some good lighting, and a simple counter top. Now go and cook. Try to take the nicest photos of each dish that you can….make sure the plates are free of splatters, and that you take it from an angle that doesn’t look unappealing, or too shadowy.

Now all you have to do is upload everything to an online photo book design site, like Blurb, Shutterfly, or even your local Staples or Walmart. There are a variety of options and pricing you can choose from—just upload your photos and the word document recipes, and you can arrange everything the way you like it, including a cover!

This would be a great option for an “easy” gift for family. Print multiple copies and they’ll ship everything to you when it’s finished.

Give it a try…make your own Family Cookbook!


cookbook4.jpgIf you’re like most people, you’re interested in food. We have a lot of great cookbooks at the library, but we can’t keep them all. In order to make room for new selections like the ones above, we have been weeding our shelves. If you drop by the library this week or next, you might find a few great books on our sale table. But don’t wait…they won’t be around forever! (They’re only 25 cents, so people are grabbing them up by the armload!)

Happy cooking!

Vegetables, Schmegetables!

I’m not a fan of vegetables. I blame this on my mother who, bless, mostly fed us green things that came in a can or were previously frozen. Her preparation methods included throwing them into a huge pot of boiling water, or…wait, that was pretty much it. No wonder my aversion to the green stuff carried over into adulthood.

I must say that my husband has done wonders to turn my hatred of produce into something closer to toleration. I’ll probably never love vegetables, but I’ll eat them when they’re steamed, broiled, sauteed or roasted. It turns out, the way you make them really changes how they taste.

Lately, I’ve been trying to add more veggies to my diet for a variety of reasons. But sometimes, when I’m in the grocery store, I see vegetables I either don’t recognize or I have no idea what to do with the ones that seem vaguely familiar.  I’d like to expand my repertoire (I’m sure my husband wishes for that, too), so I’m going to take out a bunch of magazines and cookbooks to find some inspiration. We have plenty of great items at the library to look through.  Maybe someday I’ll even be able to claim that I “love” veggies. Cross your fingers.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in knowing more about in-season vegetables, I came across a great website that has everything clearly laid out. And Then We Saved not only shows you what to buy right now, but to understand that by buying in season, you’ll save money!


Now, if I could have someone come to my house to make everything for me!

Eat Your Book!

With all the controversy around ghost writers  and cookbook authors, this is timely.  How about a cookbook you can eat!

Photo by Korefe

Gerstenberg Publishing House has come up with an edible cookbook. Each page is a sheet of pasta, embossed with the idea that using the book will make a delicious lasagna.  Since this is in German, people are saying it doesn’t actually include the instructions on how to make it, but the idea is fun. (The goodness really is baked right in!)

It’s really quite pretty, each page designed with art in mind (and hopefully, food), and you can see the entire group of photos right here.  Would you buy this book for yourself, or someone else?

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

For all of our Canadian followers and patrons of the library, Thanksgiving weekend is just around the corner.  Don’t forget that we have plenty of magazines with great ideas for decorating your table, new recipes and fun crafts for the kids while the adults sit and chat over pumpkin pie.  If you’d like to try something new at your dinner, there are so many wonderful cookbooks available….desserts, gluten-free recipes, vegetarian, pot-luck ideas and more!

If you drop in now, you’ll have time to prepare your shopping list and get everything ready for next weekend.   I made these little pilgrim hats and bonnets for one of our display windows, but you could make life-sized versions to hand out to the kids before dinner. Fun!

Gobble gobble!

Will it look like the picture?

A lot of people enjoy reading cookbooks.  Yes, I’m one of them.  I read them from cover to cover and if I never make a recipe from a pretty new cookbook, it’s okay.  I just enjoy going through the recipes and looking at the pictures. But sadly, not all cookbooks have pictures. However, I came across a wonderful website that incorporates both drawing and cooking, if you can believe it.  It’s called They Draw & Cook.

The brother and sister illustration team of Nick Padavick and Salli Swindell have done countless magazine layouts, but the idea to illustrate food came out of Padavick’s love for cooking and Swindell’s chance drawing of one of his recipes. They realized how fun it was to draw food and put together this great website. 

You can search by random recipe, or choose something based on ingredients.  Each recipe is creatively illustrated and makes you want to give it a shot. You can submit recipe ideas yourself, or just follow their blog to see the things they’re working on.  This is a fun site that you’ll want to return to over and over.

What’s that flavour?

This past weekend, with all the snow falling, it felt like a great time to make some comfort food.  I happened across a recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine for Beef Bourguignon Soup and I dashed to the store and bought the ingredients.  While the soup was tasty (after several additions to bring in some more flavour), it wasn’t what I had expected.  Would I make it again?  Probably not, although it was the perfect type of meal for the weekend, it got me thinking about another book that I read about  recently, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

What is this book exactly?  It’s not a cookbook, but rather a book that explores flavour pairings.  Segnit realized one day that she always relied on recipes while she was cooking and was never adventurous enough to come up with new ideas (and didn’t really know how). We’ve all seen chefs on TV whipping up fantastic creations with items that we’d never think to pair together, and it often makes me wonder how they know.  Do they learn this is cooking school?  Is it just instinct?  Or is there some scientific formula that makes for great pairings.  Seems that it is a little of everything.

When I first read an article on this book, a seasoned chef reviewed the work and praised its simple ideas.  He raved about how this could transform everyday cooks into world-class chefs if they gave it a chance, and claimed that he would have breezed through his Cordon Bleu cooking school classes if he had known even half of these pairings.  so what exactly does Segnit do here that is so new?  She takes 99 basic flavours (strawberry, coffee etc) and researched just what would pair with them best.  Sometimes, the pairings are traditional ( bacon and egg) but more often, she explores the nontraditional pairings like mango & avocado.

This isn’t a cookbook in the traditional sense, although there are recipes intertwined throughout the pages (many complaints about this being confusing, but she doesn’t market this as a cookbook). It’s a reference book, done in the non-traditional fashion with plenty of anecdotes and history about her choices.  It might be a great book for someone who likes to cook, but be warned that it isn’t for someone without some cooking knowledge.

If you’d like to read more about the book, you can stop here.

There are plenty of links to articles about this book and reviews, so surf around if you are interested in finding out more.  I’m going to order myself a copy, I think.  If it revolutionizes my cooking, I’ll be sure to gift this book to several of my foodie friends.