I’ve finally reached that age where I need to learn how to cook. I no longer have the excuse of college to explain my diet of pizza and coffee, and while microwaveable dinners are oh, so delicious, I think it’s time I educated myself on the world of cooking.
The library has a section of cookbooks so ginormous that it’s almost overwhelming. Perusing it is like trying to pick only one candy from a candy store to taste - nearly impossible. I started my selection inspired by a book I’d seen around my parent’s kitchen, thinking, “Yeah, I’ll start by cooking something I’ve already tasted.”
This led me to the cookbook “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s hard not to love a cookbook full of delicious looking pictures and dishes rich with history. I found myself overwhelmed with the choices. I often had to judge if I had the required patience to cook the more complex recipes within “Jerusalem.” I’m newer to this cooking thing, so I thought, keep it simple. I tried the baby spinach salad with dates and almonds. I did cut corners with the pitas, using old bread instead, but it was still delicious.
There is one recipe in this book I will dance around and scream at you to try, and that’s the clementine and almond syrup cake. I am currently dieting, but of course, I sit, drooling, staring at this recipe and thinking back to the time I ate it at my parents’ house. It was an explosion of yummy goodness. It’s sweet but not too sweet, sticky with a citrus syrup and so good you could gobble up the whole thing. I love lemon and orange cakes, and this was a perfect mix of sweet, smooth and sticky.
“Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity” wasn’t a cookbook I’d seen before, but I couldn’t pass it by. It was full of pictures, and the recipes felt full of heart. They come from hard-working and loving women across the world. The cooking isn’t as fancy as the stuff in Jerusalem, but it’s just as delicious. I was, of course, drawn to its sweet and drool-worthy desserts – all of which I shouldn’t eat but can’t help fantasizing about.
The dish I want to try the most is Manal Alsharif’s Basbosa. This is definitely a recipe I am saving for that time in my dieting when I can’t take it anymore and need a sweet. Basbosa is a dessert that looks similar to Jerusalem’s clementine and almond syrup cake, which is probably a large reason why I want to eat it. The base cake is made with cornstarch and coconut, cooked till golden, drizzled with syrup made of sugar and lemon juice and finally sprinkled with almonds and pistachio nuts. Yum.
Check out the cookbook section (starting at call number 641.5) and whip yourself up a dish one of these nice summer evenings.
Librarians clearly have summer on their minds. The June edition of LibraryReads – the monthly list of forthcoming titles librarians across the country recommend – is full of books set near water – cities on the ocean, summer homes with pools, sandy beaches. From thrillers to family dramas, many of these books would make fantastic vacation reads.
by Lisa See
“Set in 1938 San Francisco, this book follows the lives of three young women up through WWII. Grace travels to California seeking stardom, where she meets Helen, a young woman from Chinatown, and the two find jobs as nightclub dancers. While auditioning, they cross paths with Ruby, and the book alternates between all three viewpoints. Lisa See is one of my favorite authors, and her newest title doesn’t disappoint.”
- Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
“The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street“
by Susan Jane Gilman
“In the tenements of old New York, a young Russian Jewish immigrant woman is taken in by an Italian family who sells ice. Through sheer persistence and strong will, she manages to build an ice cream empire. Lillian Dunkle is a complex character who will make you cheer even as you are dismayed. Have ice cream on hand when you read this book!”
- Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Public Library, Commerce Twp, MI
“I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You“
by Courtney Maum
“Set mainly in Paris, this love story for grown-ups tells the story of a decent man who almost ruins his life and then goes to great lengths to restore his marriage. If your path to a happy marriage has been straightforward, you may not appreciate this book – but it’s perfect for the rest of us!”
- Laurel Best, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, Huntsville, AL
Here is the rest of the list, with links to the library’s catalog so you can place holds on these on-order books!
- “The Matchmaker” by Elin Hilderbrand
- “Summer House With Swimming Pool” by Herman Koch
- “The Lobster Kings” by Alexi Zentner
- “The Hurricane Sisters” by Dorothea Benton Frank
- “The Quick” by Lauren Owen
- “Rogues” edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
- “Elizabeth is Missing” by Emma Healey