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It's been almost a year since I last did a novel-inspired Weekend Cooking post. Today I have two newish cookbooks and two I've had for a while. Let's take a look.
I enjoy a good cozy mystery, and I get a kick out of those that have a foodie tie-in. Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series is great on both accounts. Hannah lives in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and owns The Cookie Jar, a bakery that specializes in, well, cookies. Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook includes recipes contributed by some of the series' characters as well as every recipe that appeared in the first ten mysteries. You'll find a few savory dishes (such as chicken salad), but the majority are for baked goods. Besides the delicious-sounding recipes (Chocolate Highlander Cookie Bars and Molasses Crackles, for example), I like Fluke's notes: She tells us which character loves which cookies and offers plenty of helpful tips to help make our day in the kitchen a success. Extra fun: short stories about Lake Eden and a colorful map of the town.
Okay, who could pass up Dianah Bucholz's The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook? Not me. Bucholz has done a great job collecting food quotes from the Harry Potter series and then developing or finding recipes so we can make treacle pudding, one of Harry's favorites, and Mrs. Weasley's beef and Guinness stew. Each recipe introduction includes the character who does or doesn't like the dish plus the Harry Potter book (with chapter number) that mentions the food item. Extra fun: short boxes with food history and facts and cooking advice. Note that there is a newer unofficial cookbook written by Gina Meyers.
Who knew Suzanne Collin's Hunger Game series could be the inspiration for a cookbook? Emily Ansara Baines's The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook is a must for all fans (like me). The recipes run the gamut from the jewel-colored mint jelly that Katniss eats in during the opening ceremonies in Catching Fire to the raisin nut bread Peeta gives Katniss in The Hunger Games. Extra fun: recipe introductions that place the dishes in the context of the books and lots of "Tips from Your Sponsor" with food facts and recipe variations.
The last book Lillian Hellman ever wrote was this co-authored memoir and cookbook. Lillian Hellman and Peter Feibleman's Eating Together: Recollections and Recipes is as interesting to read as it is cook from. The book is divided into two sections by author, and Hellman gets top billing. I loved the essay about her childhood birthdays in New Orleans (and the recipe for lobster salad) and her many descriptions of Paris and the people with whom she shared a meal. Feibleman takes a more casual approach, and we join him for a picnic on the beach (a clam bake for two) and steak sandwiches on the sailboat. Almost all his food memories seem to be tied to the water, whether on Martha's Vineyard, in a fishing village in Spain, or on the beach in California. Don't pass this up if you're lucky enough to run across a copy.