The Holidays

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Those two words can spark many different feelings for people.

It’s a season filled with words and traditions that mean something different to all of us.

Love. Family. Shopping. Togetherness. Alone. Peace. Overwhelm. Cooking. In-laws. Children. Anxiety. Worship. Reflection. Joy.

I’m not going to brag about how the library has books to help you with all of these emotions, although we do. What I do want to talk about is cooking. Everybody eats, and many of us cook, whether we enjoy it or not. The holidays can make cooking a drag, even for those of us who normally love it. But the library is here to help, no matter your skill level or interest. We have a large collection of cookbooks that can help inspire you, guide you, and make this time of year just a bit easier.

So here are a few suggestions of books to check out…

Not much of a cook and looking for something basic? Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is all you need – unless you also want to explore its offshoots: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, How to Cook Everything – The Basics, or How to Cook Everything Fast. Another good one is The New Essentials Cookbook: A Modern Guide To Better Cooking, from America’s Test Kitchen.

Are you the type to plan ahead? The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, has a book just for you: Make it Ahead. She covers just about everything, from cocktails and appetizers to desserts and breakfast.

Care to learn a few shortcuts? The Kitchen Shortcut Bible: More Than 200 Recipes to Make Real Food Real Fast by Bruce Weinstein will make that extravagant, fabulous holiday meal effortless.

You can’t go wrong with Baking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer, with its breakfast offerings, desserts, and baked gifts to share with loved ones.

Austrian Desserts by Toni Mörwald is sure to bring some crowd-pleasers to your table, from strudels and tortes, to ice cream, marmalades, and Gugelhupf.

Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin has earned multiple awards and glowing reviews for its modern approach to recipes inspired by historical text and rare cookbooks.

The award-winning King Solomon’s Table by Joan Nathan will show you Jewish cooking from around the world, from everyday staples to holiday treats.

Freddie Bitsoie’s New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian celebrates the bounty of the land and Native American traditions with recipes like Alaskan King Salmon.

Polska by Zuza Zak is filled with beautiful photographs and stories, and offers wonderful recipes for Polish classics, plus desserts, cocktails, and party food.

Don’t cook, but love to read about food?

Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, by multi award-winning chef Grant Achatz is a “must-read.” This book tells the story of Achatz’s rise to culinary stardom, and his battle with cancer, which left him without the ability to taste, and how he continued his rise and learned to cook with his other senses.

Be careful if you pick up Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Some of the descriptions of what Bourdain has seen in the “back of the house” may put you off your lunch. But it is a wonderful read nonetheless, and it will give you great insight as to when to order a plate of mussels, and when to pass.

So start your holiday “shopping” at the library – we can help make the season easier, more fun, and yummier than ever.

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