03 December 2022

5 Books for Food and Drink Lovers (Weekend Cooking)

Hello, my friends. Yes, it's been a long time. Lately, I've been talking about cookbooks on Instagram instead of here--no particular reason except I've been feeling lazy about writing.

Today I want to talk about five books that could make good presents this holiday season. I haven't cooked out of any of these, but I liked what I saw when I was looking through them. I hope you find one or two that catch your attention. (Thanks to the publishers for the review copies.)

Bright red book cover with Chrismas motifsThe first book is The Christmas Movie Cookbook by Julia Rutland (Simon Element; Sept.). If you wait all year for the chance to indulge in holiday movie viewing, then you pretty much have to look for a copy of this cookbook. Before you plan your movie viewing party, take a look at the holiday menu ideas and entertaining tips before jumping into the recipes.

The cookbook is organized by common categories (such as drinks, salads, appetizers, and mains), and each recipe is linked to a specific holiday film. The introductions to the recipes explain the connections for those of us who aren't up on all their Christmas movie trivia. For example, Pigs in a Blanket is for Shrek the Halls, Old-Fashioned Meatloaf is for A Christmas Story, Really Rich Hot Chocolate is for The Polar Express, Linzer Star Cookies are for Die Hard, and Garlic and Herb Crusted Roast Beef is for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Recommended for those who love all things Christmas.

Burgundy book cover showing a cut fruit pieNext is The Complete Guide to Food Photography by Lauren Caris Short (RockyNook; Sept.). I was very excited to receive a review copy of this book because I can use some serious help with my food photography. This book may be slightly above my level in terms of gear and technical knowledge, but I think I'll be able to pick up some good tips.

Chapters cover lighting, composition, styling, storytelling, editing, and finding your personal style. Though I don't own special lights or diffusers (and don't have plans to buy them), I was interested in learning about backgrounds, creating shapes (triangles, swirls, diagonals), finding the texture, and creating movement. I also plan to study the editing chapter, so I can at least learn to make the most of what I photograph and the apps I'm using for editing. Recommended for those who wish to take their food photography to the next level.

Next up is Good Housekeeping's 1, 2, 3 Cook! My First Cookbook (Hearst Home Kids; Oct), which includes 50 recipes geared to kids 4 to 8 years old. For brand new cooks, it starts with basic techniques, like how to measure, how to roll out dough, and how to grease a pan. Then it turns to the recipes.

The book designers picked bright colors and a larger font making it easy and fun for young readers to follow. Besides the ingredients and method, each recipe includes a list of needed tools and an estimated cooking time. Throughout the directions are icons that alert young cooks and their adult supervisors to steps that might require extra care (hot pans, sharp knives). The cookbook includes lots of helpful kitchen advice, such as why and how to wash greens, how to hull a strawberry, and how to use a whisk. Fun line drawings and corny jokes make the book a delight to use.

The best part about this kids' cookbook is the recipes themselves. I love that the book teaches children to make real food that anyone of any age would be happy to make, serve, and eat. Examples are chicken salad sandwiches, smoothies, cinnamon rolls, nachos, flank steak with chimichurri, pasta salad, and smoothies. I don't have little ones to cook with, but I'm looking forward to trying some of the recipes. Recommended for anyone who wants to learn to cook, but it's a great pick if you have interested youngsters in your life.

Pale yellow book cover showing a drawing of pantry shelvesFourth is Eating Together, Being Together by Julian Clauss-Ehlers and Caroline Clauss-Ehlers (Princeton Architectural Press; Sept.). The husband-wife authors--he's a Michelin-starred chef and she's an award-winning psychologist--want to help busy families find a way to make mealtimes stress-free (or at least less stressful) and to ensure they support family bonding.

The book is full of tips for dealing with issues almost all households face, like trying to feed picky eaters and trying to engage teenagers in meaningful conversation. In addition, each recipe comes with conversation starters and activities for the youngest of kids up to preteens and teens and even for the adults in the household.

The recipes highlight fresh foods and plenty of vegetables, but you'll also find some sweet (fruit-forward) treats and yummy snacks. All the dishes look easy to make and run the full range from grilled cheese to Cajun-style tilapia. Suggested side dishes accompany the main-dish recipes. Recommended for families looking for mealtime help and bonding ideas.

Finally, we have Midcentury Cocktails by Cecelia Tichi (NYU Press; Nov.). This is Tichi's third book about cocktails popular during a specific historical era. This book focuses on the postwar years in America: think Mad Men, the three-martini lunch, the baby boom, the cold war, and the modern housewife.

Of course, the book includes cocktail recipes, but at its core is a cultural history of America. Chapters cover Playboy clubs, bachelor pads, the bar car on commuter trains, the Jet Set, and more. Tichi starts each section with a look at contemporary culture; for example, in the "Green Book" chapter, she cites James Baldwin's story of trying to get a drink at Chicago's O'Hare airport. The chapter about the era's authors and writers delves into women's issues as well as the popularity of the cocktail party.

The drinks recipes that end each chapter are classics: gin martini, brandy Alexander, Tom Collins, the Grasshopper, and the Irish Fix. The book includes New Yorker-like drawings and ends with a bibliography for further inquiry. Recommended for those who like food history, cocktails, and/or American cultural history.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


gluten Free A_Z Blog 12/3/22, 7:17 AM  

some interesting book reviews. I particularly would love the photography book and the Eating Together ; Being Together is so needed for this generation.

Jackie McGuinness 12/3/22, 9:25 AM  

The photography one would interest me. I hate Christmas movies (sorry!). Well, except Home Alone!

rhapsodyinbooks 12/3/22, 9:33 AM  

I love cookbooks for kids! They always include instructions and explanations that are omitted by adult cookbooks, but that I find extremely useful! Thanks for highlighting these!

Tina 12/3/22, 9:43 AM  

I took a break for a bit but I had noticed yu were not posting. Thought you'd retired the blog. I'm of Instagram now so didn't know you were posting there.

I'm already checking the library for a few of your cookbooks. The movie one would make a good gift for my son.

Vicki 12/3/22, 3:27 PM  

I may look for a copy of The Christmas Movie Cookbook and 1,2,3, Cook.

Marg 12/4/22, 4:08 AM  

You can always link up your Insta post!

I love the sound of that Christmas movie cookbook! And yes, I can definitely do with some help with my food photography!

Sherry's Pickings 12/4/22, 3:51 PM  

I must stop buying cookbooks! or so i keep telling myself...

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 12/6/22, 4:34 PM  

Food Photography sounds like it would be really helpful.

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