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Favorite cookbooks

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, February 2021; written by Kelly Johnson.


I have heard about armchair travelers all my life, folks who read about far away places and enjoy the sensation of having visited a place they have never actually gone. I know that I have been many places in books that don’t exist outside of them, from Xanth to Dune to Middle Earth and even kind of real places like Harry Dresden’s Chicago and Harper Blaine’s Seattle. All this traveling aside, I’ve decided to kick things up a notch and become an armchair chef. The library is generously giving me an assist with my goal with some delightful new cookbooks that cover a wide selection of cuisines and since I’m giving myself a break on actually cooking I am enjoying them even more … though I am still going to probably give a least a few of these recipes a try.


The first book I perused in armchair chef mode was “Cedar + Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field, and Sea” by LK Acken and Emily Lycopolus. This book could actually be considered a travel book as well as a cookbook since the authors have included so much information about their gorgeous Canadian setting. Truly, this book is filled with lovely photos not only of the amazing food these folks are creating, but also the island itself. Some of the recipes are way over my willingness to try - though Nettle and Chevre Ravioli sounds interesting - the fact that each recipe is introduced with a bit of a story or helpful hint makes for my favorite kind of armchair chef-ing!


Another Canadian cookbook that pulled me in was “tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine” by Shane M. Chartrand with Jennifer Cockrall-King. This First Nations chef has created a book filled with delightful food, tons of information on indigenous culture and fascinating interviews. Again, by taking the actual cooking off the table this book was a treasure to read and explore, I know it seems a bit wimpy but I have found reading this way makes for a much more relaxing read, and I still get the occasional recipe too! And these recipes are really incredible with delightful ingredients and the steps of preparation carefully laid out making for an immersive reading experience.


Two other new cookbooks, “Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple” by Tieghan Gerard and “The Full Plate” by Ayesha Curry are both a bit more real time than the first two, however exploring them as an armchair chef rather than anxiously looking for new ideas and recipes made them much more fun to peruse. I really do appreciate that both of these authors also introduce their dishes and often give tips as well as information about the recipes. I like the pictures too, why armchair chef if you can’t at least look? Too bad they don’t have scratch and sniff patches that would really make the experience complete. Ah well, perhaps I’ll do a bit of cooking after all.


There are these and tons more cookbooks to help you with an armchair chef adventure of your own at the library as well as travel books and fictional world options as well. You can always place holds online even if we aren’t open and we’ll give you a call when they are available for you to pick them up. Good Reading!


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